Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Soap Box

So, below is what I drafted as a response to the interesting inquiry we received awhile ago about whether we wanted to take part in a reality tv show about adoption. Truth-be-told, I never sent it because it felt a little harsh to me and I wanted some time to see if my view changed. It hasn't. But, I have suppressed the urge to unleash my high horse on some poor production assistant. 

Anyway, what do you think of my response? While I clearly have my own strong feelings about this, I really want to know what others - especially those involved with open adoption - think. As I say, I am certainly no expert on ethics in adoption and I know there are could be lots of different, valid viewpoints about this.

Hi, [name],

Ha! I suppose we should really take our slideshow off of YouTube; our beautiful son D’s been home with us since October 2009. (Ironically, we were matched shortly after I posted the video, though his birth mom didn’t see it until after she met us.) So, with a precious 2.5 year old son, we clearly no longer fit the profile of the people you are seeking to feature.

Matching, being present for D’s birth, supporting his birth mom through the experience, and then bringing our son home were the most wonderful, scary, intense, emotional days of my life! The show you are developing will undoubtedly be dramatic.

I must share, however, that I have serious ethical concerns about it. Though I believe you will indeed strive to “do all [you] can to make the experience as positive and safe as possible for the adoptive parents and expectant mother,” bringing reality TV into such a sensitive situation at best will thwart the emotions and behaviors of the adults involved. At worst, it will be unduly coercive to expectant parents making incredibly difficult and important decisions.

Even if all adult parties use sound judgment to fully consent to participate, no account is being made for the stars of the show, the tiny individuals at the center of the adoption constellation: the babies. Of course, they cannot consent to participate, and we cannot guess now how having such intimate and private details of their arrivals in the world featured on television might impact the children in five, ten, or fifteen years.

My husband and I have a really good, loving open adoption with D’s birth mom. Had we received your email when she was expecting her baby and we were matched, we might have been excited to participate in your project. But since then, we’ve all learned a lot more about open adoption – and we’ve lived it. We have seen how emotionally complex it is ourselves, and we are beginning to understand that for our son. I am sure you will find other families willing to take part, but please, please consider whether this is really an appropriate situation to expose to and through the media.

Thank you for taking my concerns seriously. If you are interested in learning more about the ethics of adoption, please feel free to contact me. Even better (since I’m no expert), investigate:


Friday, July 20, 2012

Reality Check

[Why no, I haven't abandoned this blog...]

Recently, we received an email like the one below.

What do you think? How would you respond if you were in our shoes?

In a few days, I'll share what I came up with...

Hi Kristin and Matt,

I hope this email finds you well! Thank you so much for taking the time to hear about the special project we are working on and your support means a lot. My name is [name removed] and I am a Development Associate at the television production company [company removed] (company bio attached). I saw your amazing video on youtube. I was wondering if you have been matched with an expectant mother? I am reaching out regarding a new television show we casting for- We are looking for perspective adoptive couples who are already matched with an expectant mother.

Here is some information regarding the show:

I know that adoption is a super sensitive subject for all of the parties involved, however, through this series, we are hoping to depict the adoption process as honestly as possible so people have a better understanding of the challenges, decisions, joy and love that comes with the journey of becoming parents. Maybe we can offer inspiration for a couple or expecting mother considering adoption!

Our production company, [company removed] as well as the [network removed] takes this matter very seriously and will do all we can to make the experience as positive and safe as possible for the adoptive parents and expectant mother. Also, please note that we are partnered with and have the support of The National Council for Adoption as well as the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

[Company removed] has teamed up with the [network removed] to share the stories of couples and single prospective parents as well as expectant mothers who are currently going through or considering the adoption process. The series will focus on the challenges, decisions, joy and love that come with the journey of becoming parents.

The series is green lit for air and is expected to have a total of 6 episodes featuring one adoption triad per episode. We are hoping to film over a span of eight weeks (approximately 4 weeks before the expectant mother's due date and 4 weeks after). We are not going to be filming

24/7 in those 8 weeks but rather schedule film time with all parties beforehand. In total it comes out to about a total of 12 days of filming for each of the expectant parents and prospective adoptive couples.

All parties will be compensated for their time.

If this something you believe you and your expectant mother would be interested in participating in or learn more about please contact me!

Best Regards,

[name removed]
Development Associate
[company removed]