Tuesday, June 5, 2007

NY Times Ethiopian Adoption Article

Have you read the New York Times piece about Ethiopian adoptions? It's been all over the ET adoption blogs this week. I have refrained from posting about it until now because I have very mixed feelings over the article, how it handled some issues and the ethics behind how the reporter went about getting her information.

The article starts out talking about the advantages of adopting from Ethiopia including fast timeliness and high caregiver to child ratios.

Two elements distinguish Ethiopia’s adoption system, according to dozens of experts. One is the existence of transitional homes for orphans, in the countryside and in the capital, with services and staffing that are rare in the developing world — paid for by American agencies.

Not long ago, Sandra Iverson, a nurse practitioner from the University of Minnesota’s international adoption health clinic, the first of its kind in the United States, was invited to visit the Children’s Home Society’s Ethiopian centers.

She arrived with a neonatal otoscope, to diagnose ear infections; the Red Book, the bible of pediatrics; and scarce antibiotics. She left confident that Ethiopia’s orphans enjoyed unusual care.

“You don’t hear crying babies,” Ms. Iverson said. “They are picked up immediately.”
They also talked about the ability of adopting parents to meet birth families, something that is almost unheard of in international adoption. They highly praised a well respected ET adoption agency, CHSFS and made many good points about the reasons children may be available for adoption.

What I find distasteful about the article is the way the reporter (Jane Gross) insinuated her way onto a lot of the Ethiopian Boards under false pretenses and lurked about until she got her story. She mentions in passing the huge adoption mix-up I posted about not long ago without the permission of the Families, who were devastated that she took their story off the boards and then published it. Now their adoptions are in jeopardy because she reported JUST enough to embarrass people and make them angry, but not quite enough to be of any help to them.

I fully support the right of free speech but the way she went about getting her information was extremely unethical in my opinion. When the board moderators discovered that she was press they immediately informed the board and asked her to introduce herself and explain her intentions. She then immediately unscubribed from the board.

I also think that the way she reported some aspects of the issues facing Ethiopian adoption as the popularity of the programs grows will only serve to worry and embarrass Ethiopian officials. So all in all not a lot of new information, non ethical reporting practices, and an unbalanced look at the issues, equals a piece of "news" that only servers to cause problems rather than inform.


Jill said...

I don't think the NY Times has a very good track record with adoption stories. A while ago they wrote about Guatemalan adoption and the article was very misleading and one-sided. It seems they just want a "story" and don't care much about the facts or how their reporting might damage families and children.

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