Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down
Help Adoptive Families celebrate those who "get it" and educate those who don't! Do you have a Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down you'd like to suggest? Submit it here.
Thumbs Up to . . .
Lisa Redfern and her album, Sing Me Goodnight.
Says fan Carissa Christner: “In addition to being a lovely sleepy-time recording, many of the songs on the album reflect Lisa’s own journey through adoption, with the most heartwarming language I’ve ever heard on a children’s music album (and I’ve listened to many!). Thanks for creating this treasure, Lisa.” To learn more and buy: lisaredfern.com.
Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends,
for the "Family Tree" episode. When Shimmer is given this sticky school assignment, her mother, Miss Spider, helps her try to find her "hatch day tree." They are unsuccessful, but have a heart-to-heart and conclude that each is the "special somebuggy" the other is meant to be with. "I caught only the last few minutes the other day," says Lisa Jo, "but wish I had seen the whole thing." [Editor's note: The episode is available on the DVD Miss Spider's Sunny Patch: Happy Heartwood Day.]
Make "Ethiopian Adoption Blogs" your first stop for researching agencies and meeting other families touched by Ethiopia adoption. At last count, the no-frills website had more than 1,300 blog listings, organized by the agency each blogger was working with, as well as a few listings from “undecided” bloggers.
Target and Lowe’s,
two companies that include transracial families in their advertisements. Sara Giloth, mom of Shelby, four, was delighted: “It’s not often you see a family like mine in print.” We hope it’s just a matter of time until more businesses get the picture.
This mom, a graphic designer, created her own fabric line, depicting diverse families, after she couldn’t find fabrics on the market for multicultural families. She turned her first fabric into a blanket for her three-year-old daughter, adopted from Haiti. “She loves seeing kids who look like her,” says Sheldon. “I hope that, in this way, I can make a positive difference and offer support to families like mine.” See Sheldon’s full selection of fabrics at designermama-manaallamano.blogspot.com.
PBS's Dinosaur Train.
“This is your family, and I’m your Mom,” was the response to an “adopted” dinosaur who hatched and looked different from his family. AF reader Jennifer W. says, “She explained that they were all dinosaurs, even if they look different. Love it!”
PBS's kid's program, Electric Company.
A recent episode guest-starred Whoopi Goldberg as the transracial mom to lead character Hector. Of the show's producers, AF reader Kristen G. says, "They could have tried to 'match' the mother and son, but didn't. It's a colorful cast."
Among its picks for 2009 Women of the Year [December] is adoptive mom, pediatrician, and advocate Jane Aronson. Aronson founded Worldwide Orphans Foundation in 1997, and she works tirelessly to provide care for orphaned children around the world--while maintaining her day job as a pediatrician to internationally adopted children. By selecting Aronson, Glamour shows that it knows what true beauty is.
for its new National Adoption Month e-card. The free card's sweet photos and message make it worth sending to everyone on your contact list!
Brothers and Sisters, on ABC
for its ongoing story line about a couple's efforts to adopt. "A recent episode showed the wife (played by Calista Flockhart, who happens to be an adoptive mother) using positive adoption language," says reader Meera D. "It was refreshing to hear a TV character say 'make an adoption plan.'"
which provides affordable, prepared meals for busy families. As a special promotion, Let's Dish is offering free delivery to new parents—including those welcoming a child through adoption. As AF reader Jessa Gillis says, “Having easy meals is helpful to any new parent!”
for their August 2008 article “Adoption Diaries.” The feature profiles four adoptive families and provides helpful information about open adoption, international adoption, and adoption through the foster care system. Tonya Vaughn, an AF reader, thought it was wonderful to see an article celebrating adoption in such a widely distributed magazine.
for a Mother's Day ad that celebrates adoption. AF reader Beckey Breeze summed up our feelings: "It was wonderful to hear a mom say that 'being a mother is not in the blood, it's in the heart.'"
for its positive portrayal of adoption from the foster-care system, and its honest depiction of challenges a family may face along the way. "You'll need Kleenex for the heartbreaking last scene," advises AF reader Marjorie Cooperman.
for going the extra mile to help employees build families. The financial services company announced that, as of January 1, it had expanded paid leave to up to 20 days for parents who were adopting a child. See more adoption-friendly companies our readers love at adoptivefamilies.com/topcompanies.
This independent film tells a tender story of pregnancy and unplanned adoption. Though the ending struck AF reader Barb Butz as “a bit contrived,” she appreciated the positive depiction of adoption. (Check out what readers have to say about other movies that touch on adoption topics at adoptivefamilies.com/media.)
The Luann comic strip—and its creator Greg Evans
for its nationally syndicated cartoon. AF reader Mary Anne Castranio says: “It’s a small, fun step toward treating adoption as just another part of life, and the message that both birthparents and adoptive parents are important to a child’s life has a nice ring of truth.” Check out the strip in your local newspaper and at luannsroom.com.
The Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College
Each year, they consistently recommend the best children’s books that appeal to our families, including their outstanding “Diversity List” (streetcat.bankstreet.edu/html/diversity.html).
Citizens Financial Group
The Providence, Rhode Island-based company, which offers nearly $21,000 in adoption benefits, topped the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s list of adoption-friendly workplaces. “Citizens took the financial stress out of the adoption equation and helped us bring home our daughter from Ukraine,” say Peter and Diane Sitkowski, of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
On its yogurt containers, the company asks people to check out its website to “sponsor” a cow, as an educational fundraiser. It was so refreshing to see something better than the usual “adopt-a” slogan. I wish more companies would use this term.
A photo on display in the stores’ food courts shows a Caucasian mom and an Asian daughter, eating popcorn together and having fun. As we sat under the picture, eating popcorn, my Korean-born daughter said, “Look, mom—they look like us!” She was right. It warmed our hearts.
for spotlighting adoption. After a character adopts a boy from Guatemala, Big Bird explains, in his simple way, that adoption is when a child needs a family and when a family needs a child.
The Children’s Place
for including a multicultural family in its holiday advertising campaign. A photo of Caucasian parents and an Asian daughter was captioned, “Line up the family in colorful stripes for a fun look.” Way to go, TCP!
Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC
The rapper, who recently learned that he was adopted, has co-founded the Felix Organization, which sends children without forever families to camp for three weeks in the summer. I printed the lyrics of his song, “Just Like Me,” for my kids’ adoption books.
Editor’s Note: See me-dmc.com for more information about McDaniels and the Felix Organization.
for the article titled “Uncommon Celebrations” in its August issue. It profiled eight families who adopted at the same time and who continue to gather each year to honor their shared histories. Better yet, the piece struck a cheery tone and recognized the importance of an adoption community.
Barnes & Noble Bookstores
for always having a wide selection of adoption books on the parenting shelf. Most other bookstores—including other large chains—typically offer just one or two.
—An AF Reader
Thumbs Down to . . .
for delays in refunding the adoption tax credit to parents who claimed the credit for 2010. Several readers say their returns are under partial audit, and they’re not sure when they’ll get their refund. [Editor’s note: The nonprofit Creating a Family has posted several updates about the delays and what you can do at creatingafamily.org/blog.]
“for its print ad featuring photos of the company's founder and his family. One is labeled "Tom Sr., wife, daughter, and adopted triplets." Traci B. asks: "Are those three little girls not also his daughters? Do they not deserve a familial label, too? Why not 'Tom Sr., wife, and daughters'?" Good questions, indeed.
Despicable Me, a Universal Pictures production,
“Shame on everyone who profits from this movie,” says Diane Braunfeld. “While the message is that adoption can improve an adult’s life, another message is that being an orphan is shameful and dirty.” In the animated film, a costumed villain adopts three girls, but abandons them when they become a distraction. Adds Braunfeld, “My 12-year-old daughter came home from the theater and said she was very sorry that she saw it.” As AF readers, like Tawn, point out, “The trailers didn’t indicate an adoption storyline. It would be easy to walk your child into this trap.” We hope that our readers were tuned in to parents’ warnings, and avoided it in theaters. We think we speak for the AF community when we say, loudly, that Despicable Me is one movie we will not be adding to our Netflix queue!
for eliminating adoption leave after the financial services company acquired Wachovia. Once named an adoption-friendly workplace by Dave Thomas Foundation, Wachovia used to offer six weeks paid leave. Says AF reader Carmi, “Leave is essential to the bonding process, for adoptive parent and child. Wachovia understood that. Sadly, Wells Fargo does not.”
ABC's Modern Family
Thumbs up and down to this sitcom. While AF has applauded Modern Family's use of nontraditional family and adoption themes in the past, it seems that ABC can’t get it right all the time. A recent episode showed an older sibling tormenting her younger sib by claiming he was adopted and that his “real mom” was coming to get him. An AF reader told us she was offended by the insult to adoptive moms.
This online game from Blighty Arts encourages its players to adopt orphans as fashion accessories. The makers defended their product as harmless and reflecting real life, but we say, when you're targeting preteens, this game is tacky and misleading.
Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo,
for its "Adopt-an-Animal" campain. The zoo has been rated the number-one family zoo in America by Parents magazine, and has many programs for young children, including sleepovers, camps, and special events. Reader Eden Rush urges parents to write and ask that Lowry Park drop the word "adopt," in favor of the more accurate word, "sponsor."
The Locator, on the WE Network
Many of you were shocked by the negative language used in the new series. Says Mary Ann Messer, "They show adoptees getting help to search for their 'real parents.' The opening states, 'You can never find peace until you find all the pieces.' Unbelievable!"
James Kaplan's Parade magazine article on Nicole Kidman
(November 2). Says Kris Henninger, "The author mentions that Ms. Kidman has recently given birth to her first child, and that she's a 'new mother.' Ms. Kidman gave birth for the first time, but Sunday Rose is her third child. She's been a mother for 15 years."
Alex Kuczynski's New York Times article
"Her Body, My Baby" (November 28). Many of you were appalled at the author's lack of sensitivity in describing her experiences with infertility and surrogacy. You took issue with lines like, "It's one thing to say, 'Mommy's tummy was broken for a little while,' and another to have your child ask, 'Why don't I look like you?'' and "Of all the possible mothering paradigms I could count--birth mother, biological mother, child-raising mother, legally recognized mother--I would fill three roles. I had to settle for three-quarters his mother." We wondered, does that make us only half-parents?
After the "expected date" field, their updated registry form now asks, "Are you adopting?" It lets people who access your registry know that you are adopting, and that there may not be an exact "due" date.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Mike Seate
for his June 19 piece calling Asian children “‘must-have’ fashion accessories for upper middle-class Americans.” Hundreds of readers sent letters to the editor, but, instead of apologizing, Mr. Seate responded with more inflammatory comments. His grossly misinformed replies to thoughtful feedback dismayed countless AF readers, including Robbye Griet and Monica DiGioacchino.
NBC and Teleflora
for placing adoptive mothers—along with grandmothers and stepmothers—in a category titled "Non-Mom Moms" in their America's Favorite Mom contest. The last-minute language change to "Adopting Moms" still implied that our families are somehow different. As Amy Reid said, "If you are raising a child, you are a mom—no matter how you're related to that child!"
for its nationally broadcast commercial featuring talking food. After French Fries and Parfait "discover" they're related, Nuggets chimes in with, "Maybe you're adopted." AF readers expressed outrage at the latest example of media's use of adoption as a punch line.
for an ad campaign, in which a boy tries to convince his parents to upgrade their network services. When the dad responds with a silly comment, the child says, I'm so adopted." Although the commercial was intended to be funny, several AF readers though the message was negative, and anything but amusing. As Becky Marruffo asks, "Isn't there a better way to advertise this product?"
The Sims and The Sims 2 computer games
Players have the option to adopt children, though AF reader Bryn Wittmayer noted that, “the only qualification for adopting seems to be the amount of money in your account.” Even more troubling is the fact that any character who gives birth gets three days leave from work, while characters who adopt can take no time off to care for the child. “Granted, this is a game, not the real world, but it’s a very popular game, and it’s teaching everyone who plays it that adoption is ‘less than’ bio-parenting.”
The King of Queens
In the CBS sitcom’s series finale, Doug and Carrie are on the verge of divorce, and decide to adopt to save their marriage. They complete the paperwork, and, weeks later, get a referral for a four-day-old girl from China. They race to see who gets there first, only to realize, after they arrive, that Carrie is pregnant. At the end, the couple is “stuck” with the Chinese infant. Several AF readers were disgusted by the show’s trivialization of the realities of adoption (and infertility)—and so were we!
Walt Disney Pictures' Meet the Robinsons
for its grossly insensitive portrayal of adoption issues. In the animated feature, the central character is a newborn who is left at an orphanage and who spends the next 12 years of his life being rejected by over 100 prospective families. Since the release in March, Adoptive Families has heard from many readers who say their families left the theater outraged and distraught. One parent, Christine, says, "This movie rubs salt into every adoption trauma my kids have."
For more, go to adoptivefamilies.com/media.
The rapper and actress is the latest in a string of famous would-be adopters, according to a March article in USA Today. But her misinformed comments about domestic adoption—she said that birthparents have three years to change their minds—show that she needs to do her research.
for its “mom-debate” question, “Should single people be allowed to adopt?” What if it asked, “Should single people be allowed to get pregnant?”
The Social Security Administration
The signature line of the form to apply for a Social Security Card asks for your relationship to the person applying, and one box is labeled “Natural or Adoptive Parent.” What a negative thing to come across while still in the joyful first stages of parenthood!
ABC's The Washington Post
Earlier this year, the paper ran an article describing a handful of child abductions in China, including an April case involving an orphanage director and nine others convicted of selling babies to orphanages.
Without quoting a single adoptive parent or adoption agency, the piece hits on all the classic anti-adoption stereotypes that are painfully familiar. The reporter takes a complex, nuanced set of facts and renders them in the extreme. He portrays China’s adoption system as overwhelmingly corrupt, even though this does not square with China’s reputation for having one of the most ethical adoption systems in the world.
The article even implies that the more than 50,000 Chinese babies who have come to the U.S. since 1992 were adopted by Americans “with dollars in hand,” and it fails to discuss China’s one-child policy. Adoptive families—and all readers—deserve better.
—Eliza Newlin Carney
ABC's Desperate Housewives
In a recent episode, with an adoption storyline, they use language like "shopping" for a birthmother or "purchasing" a baby, and showed prospective parents bribing a birthmother with gifts—and the birthmother scamming couples out of money. All in all, a pretty miserable portrayal of adoption.
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