Adoption in the Media

Published January 22, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I love that Adoption is getting so much media attention at the moment, I really hope it makes a difference to all the children still waiting for their forever family.

I am however a little concerned about the children featured in the programmes/news reports.

Their identity as a looked after child has been revealed. Were they asked about it? Would it have been so difficult to blur out faces?

My girls were interviewed and filmed by Channel 4 in the UK as part of an adoption themed documentary (maybe it was last weeks Finding Mum & Dad who knows). When we were matched with them we were asked if we’d like their participation to continue. We said no.

Our girls have decided for themselves that for now, their adoption is not something they wish their school friends to know about.

If the documentary they were filmed for had included them, there is a chance that the parents at their school may have seen/identified them as former Looked After Children.

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The children featured in ‘Finding Mum & Dad’ won’t necessarily be able to make the choice to keep their adopted or looked after status to themselves. I think it’s unfair to force this decision on these already vulnerable children.

What are your thoughts?

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5 comments on “Adoption in the Media

  • I really can’t decide whether the exposure is a good thing. On the one hand, adoption enquiries are way up according to our SW. Furthermore, the idea of the activity days seems to work in doubling the number of matches of harder to place children.
    However, I do wonder whether the needs of the children are the top priority. The three boys who were the main focus of the C4 programme will know they were on TV. In the years to come, how will their self-image and self-esteem be affected by the certain knowledge that time and again they were rejected by potential parents? The look on the face of the elder brother on being told they were off to another activity day spoke volumes about his sense of loss.
    What wasn’t addressed was the how and why of adoption. I suppose that as you’ve pointed out, confidentiality prevents the true picture, but without some kind of disclosure of the realities, public misconceptions will remain.
    Thanks for prompting me to think and sorry for rambling.

  • Funnily enough I’ve written about this same subject this week. I’m questioning the motives of the media. I had an issue with Panorama showing pictures of children who went on to be adopted. Do They have the right to publish those pictures without permission from Adoptive Parenrs?

  • I’ll start by saying I haven’t yet watched the ‘Finding Mum and Dad’ progamme so can’t comment specifically on that programme’s approach, but in general I am all for more media coverage of adoption. BUT as TheFamilyOf5 identifies – what about the identity of the kids? I absolutely do not agree with the identifying of the kids when they are too young and vulnerable to make the decision for themselves – cognisant of the potential life long implications. Also, if I was a prosepective adopter of kids that had been shown on TV previously I would find that very difficult, and for me it would be something against a possible match.

    I know that blurring faces out makes for less compelling TV but the kids have to come first. It could be argued that the benefits of getting them a forever family through media exposure outweighs the possible (probable?) downside of being identified; but for me that doesn’t sit right. How many of the kids that are shown/discussed actually find families through the exposure? The family-finding benefit is felt by other non-identifed kids as adoption becomes more widely known about and considered.

    I hope any such identified LAC and their prospectiove families are given appropriate support to help deal with the possible downsides. Bet it doesn’t happen though.

    And how do the Courts see this? When my kids’ Birth Father had a full page article in his local paper saying how he was ‘devastated about his kids being lost in the social care system blah blah’ with photo and his full name the Judge in Court when the Adoption Order was made (a few weeks after the article) was absolutely furious with the birth father, the newspaper and the placing authority – they were in Contempt of Court and all given a good old blast of legal anger and made to withdraw the article. So how does showing the kids on national TV fit with that?

    Rant over!

  • I consider that coverage is generally good. In the case of the channel 4 documentary the young boys will have a record of a pivotal time and series of events in their lives. As teenagers they may object, but as adults it may be of help to have that record of the events that moulded them and their future.

    If the wider public is to have an informed understanding of the realities of children in the looked after system and their routes through it then we have to show real stories of children with faces and names. Without, the stories remain remote and un personal. The power of good documentaries is that we are bothered, involved, offended and inspired then we do something.

    As a family we have had brushes with television, radio and print journalists. they have all considered the wellbeing, privacy and vulnerability of our children and their confidentiality when considering how their stories were presented and published. Particularly the BBC who have always been fantastic to work with. However, I appreciate that is not always the case.

    The challenge is how to protect and how to assess the potential negative impact. Clearly, the vulnerability and nuances of each child must be taken into account, what works for you might be wrong for me.

    So, yes I’m more for it than against it, there are challenges and risks, but to broaden public perception, and debunk common myths, of children who are looked after then it has to be a yes from me.

    Not a great answer, just some thoughts.

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