I sent the following note to NPR’s “Tell Me More” after listening to the segment called “The Joys, The Challenges Of Adopting From Ethiopia” (aired Tuesday, May 15). In the words of one adoptive parent, the segment is “short, superficial” and (no surprise!) doesn’t have a member of the adoptee community participating in the discussion.
I’m wondering why you opted not to include the voice of an adult adoptee in your segment entitled “The Joys, The Challenges Of Adopting From Ethiopia.” As you mentioned, 11,000 Ethiopian adoptees reside in the US. Many of these adoptees are adults and can “tell you more” about their experiences, which would have offered the segment a more well rounded perspective. Kind of disappointing.
I have a lot of respect for NPR, but, like other media outlets, it fails in offering “no rant, no slant” when it comes to stories about adoption. Consistently having the voices of adoptive parents and the usual suspects of the “adoption media,” i.e, Adam Pertman, Jane Aronson, Joe Kroll, etc., doesn’t advance the adoption community and it certainly doesn’t advance the general public’s understanding of adoption. In fact, leaving out the voices of adult adoptees is destructive. For too long, media outlets, including NPR, have mostly relied on adoption agencies, adoption professionals, and vocal adoptive parents for expert testimony about adoption in general, as well as “how adoptees feel.” In doing so, media outlets (unintentionally) have shut out/silenced/marginalized the individuals actually living the adoptee experience – the adoptees themselves.
To be fair, NPR is much better about giving voice to the adoptee community than most other media outlets. Nevertheless, as an adult adoptee, I would encourage you to reach out to the adult adoptee community way more than you do. Many within the community are adults, mothers, fathers, professionals, experts in a variety of fields, and many of them I’m sure would welcome the opportunity to talk with shows like “Tell Me More.”
Thank you for your time.
Kevin Ost-Vollmers, a proud Korean Adoptee