Adoption Beat

May 20, 2009

Write a letter to the editor

Filed under: Uncategorized — adoptionbeat @ 7:58 pm

That’s what I did today. My goal is to do something, however small, to foster a better understanding of adoption and, thus, hasten reform, everyday! Today it was writing a letter to the editor, well two letters, actually.

The first was a comment on an article that appeared in Traverse City Record-Eagle in Northern Michigan, a state with a troubled history of adoption secrecy. The article, which you can read here: http://www.record-eagle.com/northernliving/local_story_136221807.html detailed the story of an adoptee whose enterprise resulted in her being reunited with her family of origin was headlined: Northern People: Daughter tracks down mother.

A headline like that makes me see red before I read another word. But the story was well done by reporter Vanessa McCray vmccray@record-eagle.com. I loved the story. It was balanced and fair and, for readers who know adoption from the inside, it was nuanced.

But I hated the headline. It makes adoptees that want to know their history seem predatory; we are not. We just want equal treatment under the law, to be able to know or origins, something anyone not adopted takes for granted.

The reporter did such a good job with the story that I guessed the page editor wrote the headline. I jotted a quick letter to the editor which concluded “Thanks for covering the story, but please remember we are not hunters tracking prey.”

I got a response almost immediately from the Record-Eagle saying they regretted that they could not use my letter because I was not located in Michigan. And that may well be their policy but, when a newspaper puts up a website which, by definition, is available to the world, they should probably either say they are not interested in what people outside Michigan think or accommodate those reactions on the website, at least.

Providence Journal (Rhode Island) takes the latter approach and invites reader’s comments, posts them quickly on their website and/or in the print version of the newspaper. You only have to register. And you can decline the things they are offering free or for sale.

Today they published an editorial that has rapidly been passed around the adoption reform community. And for once, we were all thrilled with the content. The newspaper endorsed open records legislation. You can read their editorial here: http://www.projo.com/opinion/editorials/content/ED_adopt20_05-20-09_8CED503_v43.3d9b1af.html. If you haven’t, do. You’ll love it!

I wrote a reaction and it appeared online within minutes.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

You probably cannot imagine how refreshing it is to read media that “get it!” So often triad members seeking equality under the law lament that the media just doesn’t get it – they don’t understand. But you clearly do. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I’m a 56-year-old adoptee who has been working (for perilously close to 30 years) to change the status quo with regard to adoption law and practice in the USA. I am now six years into reunion with my family, which has afforded me access to health information that would have been more beneficial when I was in my twenties. When young adoptees search they only want the truth of their origins. For many of us, that would be more than enough. But as we grow older, we do understand the importance of genetic history with regard to our health, and that can only be achieved by developing some sort of relationship with our family of origin.

Yet governments have tried to substitute programs under which they will find out what we need to know on our behalf. Hogwash! Hearsay is not admissible in court, it’s not a satisfactory standard for reporting news and it is totally unequal to the task of giving individuals a sense of self denied when the facts are hidden.

I hope that this bill is passed soon and speedily signed into law. Thank you for your very important support.

I heard from colleagues in Rhode Island a short time later. In fact, my letters are what have connected me with many soldiers in the adoption reform “army” over the years. I could suggest that they recognize my brilliance but I know it’s just that they appreciate being validated. Sometimes the struggle seems lonely although there are thousands of folks out there who believe as I do that equal access is the only right course of action even if the law has yet to recognize it universally. If we ever to achieve honesty and accountability we must have access.

On the news pages, the media can and should play an important role in presenting the facts and allowing readers to draw their own conclusions. On the op-ed pages they are entitled to their opinion about adoption secrecy. When they come down on our side, we should at least say thank you!

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