Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stop with the bad media coverage, already!


I am still dumbfounded and dismayed by the negative news regarding Russian adoption. In their zeal to bring forth stories of adoptions that have gone awry, the media have chosen to overlook and disregard the thousands of positive stories about adoption. In fact, my friend e-mailed me a link to a story recently published in the NY Times about a couple that is suing its adoption agency for withholding information that would have led to a diagnosis of FAS (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum) in their adopted son. The good news in this article is the fact that, unlike Torry Hansen, this couple decided not to ship their son back to Russia. However, their child is now institutionalized here in the U.S., with little hope of ever being able to live independently.

My fear about these stories is that they will create a public belief that Russian orphans are “damaged goods”, and should not be adopted by Americans. To my knowledge, the media has ignored the hundreds of testaments posted on the Joint Council on International Children’s Services Facebook page assuring whoever will listen that the vast majority of Russian children who have been adopted by American families are indeed healthy, normal, well-adjusted children. The problem with these stories for me, specifically, is that I fear they will create a public prejudice toward my own two sons who were adopted from Russia. My oldest boy attached to us IMMEDIATELY, and is extremely loving and well-adjusted. My youngest son also bonded easily with us, is in the gifted program at school, and has a great sense of pride regarding his Russian heritage and adoption. What will happen if these stories persevere and become the Public’s sole source of information about Russian adoptees? How will this affect the way teachers, coaches, and friends view my boys when they learn of their biological background?

Not all Russian adoptees have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, have difficulty adjusting, or are destined for failure. In fact, such cases are the exception, not the norm. It is time the media acknowledge this, not only for the sake of the orphans still living in Russia hoping for a real family, but also for the thousands of happy, healthy children and young adults who have come to America to live with their own loving, adoptive, families and will remain in our country to become happy, productive, members of our Society.

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