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Dear Tom Weber of The Daily Circuit at Minnesota Public Radio,

I’m a blogger, so I don’t need to adhere to journalistic ideals such as research, facts, and due diligence. I get to write whatever I think and pass it off as fact just because it’s my opinion. That’s the pro and con of the blogging platform. So bear with me when I say – You, Tom Weber, failed to do your job as a journalist today by presenting a program about international adoption with a panel that consisted of three white adoptive parents and a director of an adoption agency, also white.
(Read a great summary and critique of your show here>>)

And, when challenged by an adult adoptee caller for excluding local adult adoptees who are also adoption professionals, your lame answer basically indicated that 1) You have NO CLUE about the relatively HUGE number of adoptees who work in or research about adoption in your own community 2) You have NO CLUE about adoption in general and have irresponsibly reinforced the general perception of adoption as a finite transaction that takes place between adoption agencies and adoptive parents.

So, Tom Weber, and the rest of Minnesota Public Radio (who has yet to do a quality story about adoption), let me provide you with some resources to help you with future stories:

Local adult adoptees who can tell you what it is actually like to be internationally adopted (and who know A LOT about adoption!):

Other Adult adoptees who can help you understand the complexities of adoption (It’s REALLY complex!):

These lists are not even close to comprehensive! So, the next time you talk about adoption on your show, I expect to hear one of these people (or people like them) on your panel.

A model for a story about adoption that doesn’t completely suck (as recommended by Jae Ran Kim):

Also, some pointers when selecting guests:

  • Being an adoptive parent does not make you an expert on adoption. It just makes you an adoptive parent. Parents can offer their individual perspective on their personal adoption process, but they cannot offer expert opinions about the adoption industry or the experience of adoptees. Just like any profession, you have to study and critically examine the subject to develop expertise.
  • Adoption agencies are also not experts on adoption. They are experts in facilitating the adoption process. Even though adoption agencies are set-up as nonprofit organizations, they have a bottom line and it is to facilitate adoptions. Therefore, they cannot offer an objective opinion about the decline of international adoption because a decline in adoptions of any kind equals a decline in their livelihood. It’s like asking a tobacco company to tell you that the decline in cigarette sales is a good thing.
  • Adult adoptees are the people adoption is happening to. We are the ones who ultimately deal with the consequences of adoption. But, many of us don’t rely on our personal experience alone to make us experts. We study, analyze, and thoughtfully critique the adoption experience, because we don’t want to make a buck, we want to make the experience better for our community.

Tom, I know I’ve been hard on you, but if adult adoptees don’t demand some respect and recognition, you and others will continue to ignore our voices and confine the adoption experience to very limited points-of-view. I know it is tempting to discount me as angry and disgruntled, but if you do your research about adult adoptees, you’ll find that we are passionate and proud and ready to help people like you present a fresh, comprehensive and complex view on adoption.

Want to do a truly innovative story about adoption? Host a panel of adult adoptees (see lists above). We kick ass.

16 Comments on WTF MPR?

  1. I really enjoy all your posts!

  2. Brilliant. Of course, we are confusing radio-as-a-moneymaking-enterprise with radio-as-a-public-trust, with the former case’s audience made up much more of adopting people of pallor than any people of color….

    • Daniel, good point. I might be pointed at Minnesota Public Radio, but National Public Radio does not do any better. Don’t forget gems like Scott Simon and John Seabrook.

      • Now that I look back at the horrid Scott Simon story and his pathetic self-promotion at the place he works for, I notice that all of my comments there have gone missing. WTF? This is not a naive slight; this is willful censorship of our voice. I agree with what is being expressed here, namely that we need to move from reactive to pro-active and also that we have reached a kind of tipping point where this should and could happen. The only caveat is that the class of adopters we are talking about loves to think of themselves as being progressive, and their “multi-culti” adoptions as an expression of that progressiveness. It is no coincidence that all of my posts at NPR were arguing exactly this; perhaps I hit a nerve. I say this is the nerve we need to aim for.

  3. I loved your last three bullet points, especially the second one. Let me add:

    Having a show about international adoption (or any show about adoption) without including the actual adopted person is like:
    – having a show about women but only having male guests
    – having a show about the African American experience but only having white guests
    – having a show about the LGBT experience but only having heterosexual guests

    My issue with the MRP show was not about its guests as much as it was about the lack of understanding on the part of MPR about who to invite to the conversation. MPR has never dedicated a show about international adoption where the focus was on the adoptees themselves. That’s because they do not understand that adoption is about the adoptees and they only see the “clients” as the adoptive parents.

  4. The mother and adoptee are only part of the profit margin. The mother is nothing more than the manufacturer of the product which is the baby and they do not matter one iota to these animals.

    • Linda, it is so true that the platform for speaking about adoption is continually guarded by adoption agencies and adoptive parents, but I believe adoptees and birth parents are edging their way onto the platform to the point where we can no longer be ignored.

  5. You = awesome!

  6. Linda has it right: we’re never going to see improvements in the adoption system until we stop buying into their propaganda that adoption agencies are run by actual heavenly angels sent down to save poor colored children from growing up anywhere but in a white suburb, and that this system is ordained by God as a means to “save” a few worthy poor colored kids from their horrible native cultures.

    Adoption agencies are businesses which treat mothers as product producers, babies as products, and infertile suburban white couples as customers. Adoption agencies will cut any corner, screw any producer, lie to any customer, and obfuscate any attempt to examine their inner workings*. They will also fight legislation meant to reduce their profits – that is, improve the adoption system – by every means at their disposal, including the legalized bribery we call “lobbying.”

    The international adoption system is corrupt and opaque and needs to be fixed. If it offends you that I suggest such a thing, then you need to work on being a journalist because you’re not nearly cynical enough yet. Babies are kidnapped. Mothers are lied to. Bureaucracies accept bribes and payoffs. Babies are bought and sold like cars. And it’s all marketed to upper middle class white couples with angels and flowers. If you don’t already know that, you oughtn’t be reporting on the topic.

    *Yes, yes, there’s ALWAYS some ‘good’ adoption agency out there that does things the ‘right’ way – improving the adoption system is about making EVERY adoption agency do things the ‘right’ way. Yours is the ‘good’ adoption agency? That’s very nice. Please help us insist that ALL agencies meet YOUR exacting standards.

  7. a gazillion thumbs up!

  8. Someone needs to send a contact/bio sheet of adult adoptee speakers and their areas of expertise to the producers at these media outlets. Obviously they will only report on adoption when something newsworthy (dramatic, tragic, timely, revelant [through their lens]…) occurs. We need to be pro-active and not reactive in terms of the media…and begin building relationships with producers and journalists who will step up and fulfill their obligations to the public. So the next time some adoptive parent mails a kid back to Russia or whatever, the mainstream white media doesn’t just jump to the Adam Pertmans of the world. We/the adoptee world really need/s a specific group or organization (or stable committee of an existing organization perhaps), I think, that serves solely as a media watchdog (and response) group. (Time…) Is anyone familiar with AAJA-MN (Asian American Journalists Association) and its Media Watch function? Such an entity could model itself on its work and the work of other like organizations. When I talk to younger adoptees of color I want to smack my head because it seems so little has changed for them in terms of the racism they’re subjected to. And they’re isolated in their families _and_ from other people of color–they are so often trying to reinvent the wheel. I just heard from one this week. Just rambling… thanks for all the good talk above.

6 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Making Space at the Table « Borders and Bridges
  2. What Next? « Land of Gazillion Adoptees
  3. Agencies – Who Needs ‘Em? « Land of Gazillion Adoptees
  4. Ideologies – Update « International Adoption Reader
  5. MPR, International Adoption, and oh wait… where’s the adult adoptee on the adoption panel? «
  6. Worth a Turkey « Land of Gazillion Adoptees

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