Why Trivialize Adoption?

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Every Wednesday, a child in foster care who is available for adoption is profiled on the local evening news. During a segment hosted by a popular local newscaster, viewers are introduced to the child and encouraged to learn more about helping him or her find a family. Children, adoptive parents, and birth parents would all benefit from more of such positive activities to help children find permanent adoptive families.

There are currently more than 126,000 children in foster care across the country waiting for loving adoptive families. The majority are children of color, and 45 percent of them are Black.. There is so much that needs to be done to ensure permanent families for these children and to highlight their special needs. That is why it is such a tragedy that the Fox network has chosen instead to shine a spotlight on adoption through a distasteful new reality TV show called "Who is Your Daddy?"

The very concept of this series mocks the millions of American children and families touched by adoption. It takes a young woman's personal decision to search for her birth father and turns it into a crass competition. In a cynical bid for ratings, Fox has made this woman's deeply private decision to learn more about her family history into a game show. In front of television viewers across the country, the woman interviewed eight men in an attempt to find her birth father. Just in case the woman's emotions about her adoption didn't offer enough drama, Fox solicited seven men to serve as impostors. Each tried to convince the woman that he is her long-lost father. And of course reality TV calls for a prize, so the woman will win $100,000 if she chooses her birth father. Otherwise, the successful impostor would walk away with the $100,000.

Fox's exploitation of this young woman and her father is shameful. The decision to air Who's Your Daddy? also trivializes adoption for many people. Even if the particular adults in this show agreed to participate and didn't feel compelled by their desperation and the temptation of Fox's financial resources to do so Fox's disregard for other adoptive families and birth parents is shocking. The decisions by birth parents to place a child for adoption, by adoptive parents to bring a child into their family, and by adoptive children to search for their birth parents are all complex and emotional. Treating these decisions as if they are entertainment or sport for others to manipulate raises the stakes for all of them.

People on all sides of the family values debate should be able to join together to call on Fox to treat adoptive children and their families -- both birth and adoptive families -- with the respect they deserve by pulling Who's Your Daddy? from its line-up. Fox's resources would be far better spent expanding its efforts to help children waiting in foster care to find permanent loving families.

For example, Fox affiliates in Los Angeles and Atlanta can help find adoptive families for waiting children through Wednesday's Child. Every Wednesday, a child in foster care who is available for adoption is profiled on the local evening news. During a segment hosted by a popular local newscaster, viewers are introduced to the child and encouraged to learn more about helping him or her find a family. Children, adoptive parents, and birth parents would all benefit from more of such positive activities to help children find permanent adoptive families. But if Fox continues to air Who's Your Daddy, birth parents and adoptive parents will instead worry that intrusive sensationalists will exploit their children in hopes of selling a story.

Marian Wright Edelman is President and Founder of the Children's Defense Fund and its Action Council whose Leave No Child Behind mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

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