Adopt a What? A Dog? A Road? A Bridge!


Jean Paton hated the misuse of the word “adopt” when applied to animals or roads. In this 1967 “Letter to the Editor” to her local newspaper, Jean satirized the misapplication of the word and by analogy linked her criticism to the Colorado statute sealing adoption records. Here is Jean’s letter to the editor in full:

 I have just read in your paper of the proposed “adoption” of the Fifth Street Bridge in your community. I have the unhappy task of informing you that, since this bridge is a historical designee, its adoption is not possible under the Colorado adoption statutes.

Any adoption is required by these statutes to wipe out the history of the adoptee. Its antecedents must be wiped away from public view, and from the time of its adoption forward no reference may be made of the past.

            It would therefore be necessary for your office to remove from your files and place under lock and key any reference to this bridge, all photographs. [This includes] not only your paper, but all papers which contain any reference to it as a historical being.

Sincerely, Jean Paton, Coordinator, Orphan Voyage



About E. Wayne Carp

I am the Benson Family Chair in History and Professor of History at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. To read more about me, please visit my website,

Posted on February 23, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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