Thursday surprised me again. I can’t seem to keep up with my weekdays anymore! That said, in honor of another Thursday Thirteen, I thought I’d hit on thirteen things I’d rather see the media cover when it comes to adoption. I’m tired of the constant negative focus on birth parents who are contesting adoption, exercising their right to reclaim their children before finalization or simply changing their mind and parenting prior to birth or signing of the Termination of Parental Rights. I know you’re tired of seeing those stories as well. While the stories I’m about to suggest aren’t all happy-go-lucky, they are different from the normal “horror” stories that paint birth parents as the enemy.
These are thirteen story themes I would like to see covered in by today’s media.
1. Healthy open adoptions. They exist. They do! While, sadly, they aren’t the norm, they exist in far more numbers that some groups would have you believe. Why the hidden factor? Well, those without problems rarely speak up and say, “Look at me!” Those with problems are more often the ones who speak up and speak out. They’re also busy just living their own lives!
2. A story that focuses on why failed matches aren’t failed adoptions. The general public flubs this one up so badly that I think it absolutely needs to be covered in a mainstream media outlet. I can write about it until I’m blue in the face. But the people reading this blog either already are attached to adoption in some way or another. I’m talking about educating Joe Schmoe who is sitting on his couch eating a TV dinner while watching the nightly newscast on some national network. He needs to know that expectant parents who are considering placement and decide to parent their child aren’t “taking a child back from an adoptive family.” The difference needs to be explained so that “birth parents” can stop getting a bad reputation in this manner. These parents aren’t even birth parents! Terminology!
3. A feature on the lack of desire for anonymity. I’m tired of hearing that we, as birth parents, want to remain anonymous. It’s true that some do but they are in the minority, not the majority. I think a wide scale report featuring mothers from the closed era and mothers from the open era talking about their reasoning would help the public understand that opening records isn’t going to traumatize all birth families. Usually in these reports, we just hear from adoptees or hear about mothers who want to remain anonymous. (Note that those mothers are never in front of the camera, saying, “Keep me anonymous.” Heh.)
4. A full on feature of various reunions. Reunions? Aren’t easy. Many a mother I know has had her heart broken by reunion drama and the same goes for adoptees. Likewise, there are stories of hope and love out there. I think featuring the good with the bad would give people a lot of perspective. Together, instead of separately, they could give the public a real look at what is going on in search and reunion today.
5. A look into open adoptions that get slammed shut. This? Needs to be done. Yesterday. The reasons behind it need to be investigated and outed. Multiple stories. I’m not just talking about closing it because a birth parents was “dysfunctional.” I’m talking about those stories in which birth parents had no rhyme or reason offered as to why the door was being closed. It’s happening far too often for the media not to pick up on these stories. First mothers and fathers are being devastated by this act.
6. A national look at the different state laws regarding openness. I covered them at length in the blog, but again, I’m not reaching a huge national audience. If someone was covering the information on a grand scale, more expectant parents considering placement would have access to the information on whether or not open adoptions were legally binding in their state. I can see it in my mind’s eye right now: a national map with colored in states. Can’t you?
7. A story on blogging birth mothers. Hey, I wrote a big old paper about it and people were interested. So, I’m sure there’s a market for this story. Someone should run with it!
8. Talk about today’s versions of coercion! The subtleties are often hard to see without explanation but coercion is alive and well in today’s adoption market. If someone was covering the issues, more people might be apt to understand.
9. Grief and loss and healing. I added healing into that because I think it’s important to cover that aspect if you’re covering the negative, hard stuff. No, I don’t think you should paint it as, “Oh, it’s easy to get over.” But I think it should be stated that healing is possible. Not a total “I’m over it” kind of healing but a way to incorporate healthy grief and loss into your reality. The world needs to know that we do grieve our losses but the majority of us also try to work to find a place in our lives that somewhat resembles peace.
10. Birth parents who are making a difference in adoption. There are so many. Let’s hear about them!
11. Your everyday, next-door-neighbor birth parent. Teachers. Doctors. The neighbor that watches your kid until you get home from work. They’re everywhere. Show us for our normalcy factor.
12. Successful birth parents. CEOs. Authors. Musicians. The list goes on. We’re not all users, abusers and losers. Tell the world!
13. Unethical agencies that take advantage of expectant mothers and then don’t offer any legitimate post-placement services. Yeah, I know. This story won’t ever hit the airwaves. Sigh.
No, not all of those stories were upbeat and “positive.” But the negativity we read and see is usually directed at birth parents. I’d like to see a discussion of the negativity that we experience in our lives. Let’s be fair.
For more Thursday Thirteen on the birth/first parent blog, read these posts.