When Fox News, David Brock, Identity and Adoption Intersect: Where’s the Outrage?

February 24, 2012
By Adam Pertman

Imagine for a moment that David Brock, founder of the watchdog organization Media Matters, was African American or Asian or Jewish or Catholic or gay or disabled (I don’t have a clue about his sexual orientation, ethnic background, religion or physical condition, by the way, but bear with me for a moment). So, if any of those things were part of Brock’s identity, what might happen if a guest on a major news network said the following:

That Brock is “dangerous” and then implied it’s because he was black/Jewish/etc.

“This is a (Catholic/gay/etc.) boy who needs to plumb the depths of his psyche.”

“Many (Asian/disabled/etc.) children are tremendously well-adjusted, but this man feels he’s unloved and unlovable.”

I’m pretty sure such comments would draw outrage from many viewers across the political spectrum. They would be the subject of considerable discussion all over the internet, on other news and talk shows, and in people’s conversations from coast to coast. The network would probably apologize, and maybe even announce that the purveyor of such uninformed, biased remarks – to describe them kindly – would no longer be welcome as a guest on its programs.

Well, just a few days ago, a guest on a major network uttered every one of the disparaging comments listed above, and then some. But the part of Brock’s real-life identity that was denigrated by psychiatrist Keith Ablow on Fox News (http://bit.ly/xkhkLi ) was the fact that he entered his family through adoption and, alas, there was barely a peep of reaction from anyone outside of the adoption community.

Is that because adoptive identity is not understood as significant by most Americans? Probably, although the research (http://bit.ly/yUJf4m) and most adopted persons agree it’s just as much a part of them as their race, religion, etc. Or maybe it’s because Ablow drew on discredited stereotypes of adopted people that are still part of our culture, even though they’re corrosive and offensive? That’s probably a piece of the explanation, too; we continue to pay a high price for adoption’s history of secrecy and shame, including far too little knowledge about the millions of people for whom it is an everyday reality.

The reasons Ablow felt comfortable linking Brock’s behavior to his adoption, and the reasons his comments barely registered before flying off the radar screen, are important – and it would be wonderful if they would be examined by researchers, fellow mental health professionals and television pundits alike. I’m not going to dwell on them here, however; instead, I want to make a few straight-forward points, irrespective of the “whys” of what happened.

First, though it certainly happens, I hope we can agree in principle that it should be unacceptable for anyone to use negative stereotypes, unconfirmed assumptions or stigmatizing caricatures to cut down a political adversary, or anyone else for that matter. That such language is tolerated by professional newscasters and producers on a major, widely watched network is unnerving.

Second, people who don’t know much about adoption, or about the individuals it impacts, should either educate themselves or find something else to talk about. At best, they are perpetuating undermining stigmas and stereotypes and, at worst, they are upsetting and infuriating adopted children (they watch television, too) and adopted adults, as well as all the other people who are personally affected.

Finally, as a former journalist, I am mystified and disappointed that any news outlet would give credibility to a psychiatrist who acknowledges that he did not examine the person he’s publicly diagnosing. Ablow is entitled to his opinion regarding adoption issues, however uniformed or misguided it may be, but it is another matter altogether for a journalist or newscaster or whatever these TV personalities are called, to implicitly present him as an expert on the subject he is discussing.

I’ll end with this admission: I could not have cited one substantive factoid about either Keith Ablow or David Brock before this episode was brought to my attention a few days ago in a bristling email from a middle-aged man, who was himself adopted. I knew very little about their politics, their work or their controversies. So my observations here have nothing to do with the ideology of the left and right, or political correctness, or whether Fox is fair and balanced, or anything of that sort. I simply learned of deeply offensive comments and was repelled by them – as I hope I would have been if they’d been about someone’s race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other part of their identity.

Pass the word far and wide, and let the national conversation begin.

 

Adam Pertman is the Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and Author of “Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming Our Families – and America” Click here to visit his website, http://adampertman.com.

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Ghana’s Grand Opening of A New Obstetric Operating Room

Ridge Regional Hospital was just voted “Best Hospital” in the Greater Accra Region due to the performance of the obstetrics department. Emmanuel Srofenyoh, Kybele’s local champion, will receive special acknowledgement during the Opening Ceremony. Needless to say, this is wonderful. Ridge had a tragic track record just 5 years ago when Kybele started collaboration. Kybele chose the right local champion and Kybele’s role in advocacy has been pivotal. Kybele will continue to cheer Ridge forward, as the standard bearer, for institutions throughout Ghana.

Kybele’s Dr. Medge Owen and Dr. Yemi Olufolabi will return to Ghana next week for the opening of the new obstetric operating room.

Honored guests to include:

  • Dr. Obeng Apori, Medical Director of Ridge Hospital
  • Dr. Emmanuel Srofenyoh, Director of Clinical Services of Ridge Hospital
  • Ernestina Naadu Mills, First Lady of Ghana and Guest of Honour
  • Mrs. Nagwa Kattah, President of GIWC
  • Dr. Medge Owen, Founder of Kybele Inc.
  • Donald Teitelbaum, US Ambassador to Ghana

Congratulations to all of the team members that made this immense positive impact on the lives of so many Ghanaian women and children.

Hopscotch’s Viviane Martini, Mom to a Bulgarian Princess & Armenian Prince Revisted the Ministry of Justice Statistics Today

Bulgaria Statistics Revisited
One of my readers, Lucy, left an informative comment on my post about the adoption statistics, so I wanted to make sure everyone interested could see it. I do think she is quite accurate in noting that the second column shows special needs adoption procedures of identified waiting children and they are included in the total of the first column. So, for example, of the 65 MOJ consents given for adoptions by U.S. APs, 45 were for identified waiting children with special needs and only 20 were for children referred through the main procedure. I don’t know how this slipped off my radar. I guess I shouldn’t do translations late at night. My apologies.

It also makes much sense that these numbers reflect final consent given by MOJ for the adoptions since the statistics are released by MOJ and those last signatures is where their involvement with the process stops.

Lastly, I was not terribly clear in my initial post in indicating that the numbers reflected in the first column are not equal to the number of children that were adopted, but rather to the number of adoption procedures. So, just to reiterate, a total of 287 adoption consents were issued by MOJ in 2011, (soon) bringing 329 children to other countries.

Here’s Lucy’s original comment:

“The public statistics show in fact the number of the signed consents given by the Minister of Justice, it means the dossiers that have received their signatures, but haven’t still passed through Court, received the new birth certificate and Bulgarian passport. Therefore if we have any kind of statistics for the number of issued Bulgarian passports for intercountry adopted children, it will be different. In brief, these are not the numbers of the children that have been adopted by foreign AP and have left Bulgaria, but rather part of the one that have left Bulgaria in 2011 and the one that will be shortly leaving.”

The second column shows the number of SN procedures. If I do remember correctly, it is included as number in the one of the first column or namely about US:

There have been 65 given consents by the Minister of Justice, including 45 for SN kids. As I think you already know, the number 65 indicates the number of the referrals/adoptive families and not the number of adopted kids, as sometimes under 1 referral/dossier we could have even 2 or more kids. It is the same for the SN procedures.

Moreover, you could see as well the share that US has taken in 2011, namely 23% /for 65 cases/, Italy – the first one is 38% /for 107 cases/.”

Thank you, Lucy!

News from Morocco

Hopscotch family arrived safely to Morocco. Meeting their new little boy this week! Wishing them all the best of luck…

Just Before Surgery – Outcome A+!!

Hopscotch is happy to be a part of changing lives for all children! (this child is not eligible for adoption – Hopscotch advocates for all children)

Hopscotch’s Viviane Martini, Mom to a Bulgarian Princess & Armenian Prince Shared Today…

2011 International Adoption Statistics Bulgaria
Saturday, February 18, 2012

MOJ released the final statistics for international adoptions from Bulgaria in 2011. A total of 287 adoptions were completed, bringing 329 children to other countries. Here’s the breakdown of adoptions by receiving country:

  • Italy    107
  • USA   65
  • France   31
  • Germany  24
  • Sweden   17
  • Netherlands  13
  • Spain   9
  • Norway   6
  • Greece   4
  • Canada   4
  • Cyprus   3
  • Switzerland  2
  • Luxembourg  1
  • Malta   1

The document also includes a column that I can’t quite interpret with certainty. However, I think it shows the number of adoptions that have received the final MOJ approval, but the children have not yet been picked up by their parents. Those numbers are:

  • Italy    18
  • USA   45
  • France   7
  • Germany  5
  • Sweden   14
  • Canada   2

If I remember correctly, in 2010, there were 40 adoptions from Bulgaria to the US, so we are once again seeing an increase in children coming home.

For anyone wishing to review the original document, click here.

Yerevan Enjoys More Snow

News from Armenia

Two VERY happy families today!!! Congrats to our two Hopscotch families on receiving court decrees today. It’s Official and we are all celebrating with you – hurry home!! Two more Armenian princesses to become America’s newest little citizens. It’s a Fabulous Hopscotch Friday!!!

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