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2002-10-18 10:22 a.m.

I don't want to have children. There are enough damned kids in this world. They are everywhere, and there are tons of them.

I have seen them on the streets of Nairobi—homeless, begging, sniffing shoe repair adhesive out of thrown–away Coca Cola bottles in an attempt to erase their suffering and the pain from the sores on their bare, raw feet. I have seen them in the United States—alienated, depressed, starving for love, shown each day that screaming and physical violence are acceptable forms of expression.

Do the math. A child born tomorrow has only the slightest chance to be lucky enough to be born in Sweden or France or Canada or Iceland or one of the few places where you can get health care, an education, and compassionate treatment from your government and their servants.

Of course, I have considered the benefits of adoption. I guess it might be nice (in theory) to help some starving, brown (or green or plaid), armless and legless Baltavian orphan baby grow up in a country where the War on Drugs or the War on Terrorism is more important than health care and schools.

I would treat my adopted and no–longer–starving Baltavian child as my own flesh. I would let the little lad know that in America you can grow up to be anything you want, as long as what you want is to be obese and watch a lot of television and hide your internet pornography addiction from your estranged and unhappy spouse. And just think, you get to be a "Christian", too!

Ok, so adoption is not high on my list either. But, that got me to thinking. What about adopting a highway?

What is it like to adopt a highway? Are there expensive administrative fees? Is it easy when the highway is young, but challenging and difficult during its teenage years? Would a highway need new shoes each month? Would a highway spend all my money and have sex on my kitchen table when I was at work and look through my dresser drawers out of curiosity?

What if adopting a highway is a totally sweet deal? I mean, you get to have the sign say whatever you want, right? I had to find out more.

There was only one way to find out. I called the Adopt A Highway Foundation.

Hi there! I would like to adopt a highway! Can you please tell me more about it? The painfully–bored sounding black woman on the phone sighed to make sure I knew how much her job bothered her. Obviously paying attention to something else besides my phone call, she half–heartedly asked me what sort of things I wanted to know about adopting a highway. I have never adopted before, so tell me everything you can. Let's start with how much it costs and what work is entailed in it, ok?

She explained that there are two choices when adopting a highway:

1) Individual sponsorship.

In this case, I would have to actually physically travel to my 2.5 mile stretch of highway and clean up the garbage and graffiti each month. Imagine the community service they make you do when you get charged with drunk driving or something like that. Now imagine doing that every month.

The only cost is a one–time fee of $300 to adorn your highway with a huge sign bearing "your own name and logo". That way, when people drive on my stretch of highway, they could wonder for a split second "Hm...who the hell is Justin Winokur?" as I gloomily pick up discarded cigarette butts and dirty diapers and breathe in their car's carbon monoxide.

Considering the time expenditure and the physical dangers, this option is not much better than adopting an actual child. I think it can best be summed up with two words: FUCK THIS.

2) Corporate sponsorship.

The corporate sponsorship program takes advantage of a tried–and–true method of taking care of tasks that "proud Americans" would never, ever do themselves or even subject their worst enemies to. You hire Mexicans to do it.

With corporate sponsorship, Adopt A Highway makes it even easier. They hire the Mexicans for you!

In addition to the $300 for the sign, the cost for the corporate sponsorship is between $225 and $600 a month. In this system, you are not just taking care of a highway and spending a lot of money which could be spent on AIDS research or battered women's shelters. You are also continuing America's de facto slavery of people who should really be provided with respect and educations so they can get ahead in this world! Just think! Hooray!

I guess adoption is not for me—no highways, no armless and legless Baltavian orphans. I have seen the options, and I don't think I am ready to scale the towering cliff of responsibilities and sacrifice that come with any of them.