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:



Heather said...


Lisa T. said...

I dunno, I think what you wrote is perfect but I can also see that dependent on the situation it could be just fine. Our first adoption we wouldn't have done it but the second maybe we would. Different people, different circumstances and we are all experienced in open adoption. I worry about the the children in the equation too, which is why we didn't do it the first time although presented with the option. Some situations I have seen on shows and they are great and others I cringe...mostly because the birth mother went back and forth, adoptive parents were insensitive/prematurely possessive or continuously remarked how they hope this child would take the place of their children lost through miscarriages, or the level of emotion was too high for the future child to have to experience down the road in video (kind of they should see the over all outcome when emotions cool.) Still on the fence, it is totally situational...I would like a show that shows updates down the road at several different ages...that is open adoption.

Lisa T. said...

Not, indicating that a woman doesn't have the right to go back and forth but she may not be able to anticipate that and should have the privacy with it.