A missed opportunity on National Adoption Day

I just finished ready a ridiculous amount of stories from across the country for National Adoption Day. I'm pretty disheartened. I think most news organizations completely missed the boat.

The only story that seemed to get it right, in my opinion, was this story in the Vancouver Sun. They didn't glamorize adoption, and fairly presented the voices of the adoptee and adoptive parents, as well as touching on some of the experiences of the birth parents.

The majority of the articles covered on National Adoption Day seem to be about foster adoptions, and almost all written from the perspective of the adoptive parents. Don't get me wrong, we need to be discussing foster care, and the adoptive parents perspective is important. Many of the stories were about adoption within a family. But every single one that I read covered the same thing--the finalization of adoptions in the court on National Adoption Day.

Covering adoption in this way is lazy and uninspired. By only giving press to extremes--the finalization of the "happily ever after", or the "adoption is a scary thing story" like the boy returned to Russia--the myths and stereotypes about what adoption is/isn't are perpetuated. 

National Adoption Day is a great time to talk about some of the challenges that adoptees face, or issues that affect adoptive families, or legislation that needs to be addressed...you get the idea.

I loved the Vancouver Sun's story for several reason. Out of all the stories I read, they were the only media that broadened the discussion to include international adoptions. They have unique challenges as they may be dealing with the loss of family and the loss of culture. The story carefully weaved facts into the narrative which really educated the reader. I never thought about the fact that the first generation of Korean adoptees have come of age, and their voices and experiences are really impacting our approach in Korean adoption today.

This was the only story where the dominant voice in the article was the adoptee's! Letting people know that the adoptees desire to understand their past, and that to search for a connection to birth families does not mean adoptees are ungrateful. This is an important point to educate people on. I have heard from adoptees that they do not feel their voices are often represented by the media, and from the selection of articles for adoption day, I wholeheartedly agree.

One other thing that made me take note was the story's straightforward account of the birth mother's experience. She recalls returning to the orphanage a day after she left her daughter there, and being turned away from seeing the child. The notion of poverty and how it factors into adoption is introduced, and details like this are crucial to helping understand the complexities involved.

Of course, no single story can ever touch on all the issues of adoption. It's a very complex and multi-faceted topic. It is wonderful, hopeful, and amazing (I hope), but also messy, emotionally painful, difficult, etc. 

The original intent of National Adoption Day was to have a platform to educate people, and open up the discussion. I'm not saying that coverage of adoption finalizations is unwarranted or shouldn't be celebrated. But it takes more than neat soundbites and happily-ever-after stories to further the adoption platform for everyone involved.

Here's some other stories about adoption day from across the country:

"National Adoption Day 'restores faith' " - Pittsburght Post-Gazette


  1. I totally agree! I think its great to hear stories of families formed through adoption & its great for APs to share what led to their decision to adopt, but I think it also important for APs to help bring to light some of the adoption issues not as commonly discussed and to remember that their are two other voices - adoptees and birth parents - that need to be included in the conversation.

  2. Interesting article. Although, your link didn't work. I finally figured out it was because you have the address pasted in twice though so I figured it out. Thanks for sharing!


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