Has Anything Changed When it Comes to Media Coverage of Adoption?

Tue, June 30, 2009


Last year at this time, I got all riled up about an article in Vanity Fair and its cover article on Angelina Jolie. As PunditGirl continues to work through the questions in her curious little head about the permanence of adoption and the questions that people sometimes ask her about our family, I was reminded of this post. I don’t think anything has really changed when it comes to the politics of adoption or how many in the media write about our families, so I thought I’d dust this one off and see what you think — has anything changed since I gave Vanity Fair the PunditMom”Stupidest Question of the Month” award?

I only occasionally buy Vanity Fair, but I’m stocking up on some vacation reading and thought the the July issue would be good on the airplane.

Angelina Jolie of the full lips and even fuller tummy is on the cover of July’s Vanity Fair with an accompanying article about her motherhood, her children and the impending arrival of twins.

I know Angelina gets a bad rap from a lot of people about her various adoptions, but as a mother by adoption, I don’t have a problem with her or her how she’s chosen to create her family. She’s opened her heart to children who needed families and, as far as I can tell, has done a pretty good job, even with all the celebrity stuff they have to deal with.

Until her critics have adopted a child themselves, I say keep your words to yourselves.

As for the author of the article, Rich Cohen, well, I’m hoping there’s a special place in hell for him. No one who has a profile high enough to write for Vanity Fair ought to be asking this kind of question:

“I asked [Jolie whether] there is a special bond between a mother and a child she has carried as opposed to a child she has adopted.”

Say WHAT!?!?

Jolie dismissed that ridiculous notion out of hand. But when people like Cohen continue to advance the stereotype so infamously put out in the media by Rebecca Walker last year — that one cannot love an adopted child as much as one created from one’s own flesh and blood — it serves only one purpose, which is to diminish families that look different than most, families like mine.

Why is it that many people still feel that the bonds of blood are stronger and more lasting than any other? I can tell you from a lot of different experiences I’ve had in life, that just ain’t so.

I realize that without sensational, ridiculous questions like the one Cohen asked Jolie, Vanity Fair probably wouldn’t sell as many magazines. But as long as editors and publishers allow questions like his to appear in stories that feature adoptive families, the message that all our children will get is this — creating a family by adoption is second best and love for a biological child will trump the love for adopted children any day.

PunditGirl is already struggling with the idea of whether love is permanent. I don’t need anyone else, even a Vanity Fair writer, feeding that worry.

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6 Responses to “Has Anything Changed When it Comes to Media Coverage of Adoption?”

  1. CatrinkaS Says:

    Nothing has changed. I have been baffled by media coverage of celebrity adoptions for years. "Diversity" is a nice and distant concept, but when it comes to folding differentness into our lives and the lives of others we wrinkle our noses at what we haven't experienced.

    I can't see where adoption is even relevant in this context. Two more, when you have four… or something that illuminates her full transition from bad girl home-wrecking starlet to mother-of-six… that is far more interesting (and perplexing.)

  2. SUEB0B Says:

    First – could they jam her breasts up any higher under her chin? Zowie.

    Second – I think the question is legitimate because so many people just can't imagine loving a child that isn't genetically related as much as they love their own – all they know is the rush of feelings they got at the birth and they don't know where that comes from with an adopted child…So they might need it explained over and over.

  3. Angela Says:

    I think the question is legitimate. It is one I used to ask myself daily but recently stopped. As the mother of a biological son and an adopted son, I knew I could love them both, but I wanted to make sure the second addition to our life wasn't being short changed.

    I'm real, mostly honest, and I will say, it was not love at first sight. It was not love, but compassion in those first weeks. And a healthy dose of "what in the world did I just do to all of us?"

    The adoption community does keep secrets, and one is that all adjustment windows vary in length and severity. It took me time, and now I love both my boys, but it didn't happen over night.

    However, I did stop asking the question. Why, because I know I love both my children, but honestly, there are moments, even days were I don't like them much. So daily questioning is too much reflection on daily gyrations in emotions.

    I understand why adoptive parents hate the question. I do as well. But I hate it because I'm a good mom, I love both my kids and measuring that love, quantifying the love, is really impossible. It is equal? Is it the same? Nope, yes, maybe? But I do know there is love.

  4. kaitlinpaigeallen Says:

    Thanks for saying this! I'm adopted and often when my friends and I discuss our families I'm questioned about the relationship I have with my parents. My adoptive parents are my real parents, and the love we have is real.

  5. anniegirl1138 Says:

    It is a legitimate question. Unless you have been adopted or adopted a child or have family/friends who are/have, how can you know?

    My students were lower middle class for the most part. Older siblings getting pregnant in their teens and keeping the babies was not uncommon. They were horrified, more or less, by the idea of putting a baby up for adoption and were always shocked when I told them I was adopted and that I was okay with it. There are a lot of misconceptions and we who have experience need to speak up when the opportunities arise as Angelina did (and I am no fan of hers). It shouldn't be our job but how less to change attitudes?

  6. mrs. r Says:

    Hello! (i have to say that your blog is so cute. i know my husband is jealous that mine doesn’t look this this. where did you find this template? i LOVE it!)

    I am the Community Manager for AdoptionVoices.com–the rapidly growing adoption social network.

    I wanted to personally invite you to participate in AdoptionVoices for free by adding a profile for yourself (or your family) and connecting with others who share a similar passion for adoption. You can events, create and host groups, upload success videos, etc. We think you would be a perfect fit!

    To join, simply go to http://www.adoptionvoices.com and click on the “sign up” box in the top right corner.

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    Please let me know if you have any questions; it would be my pleasure to assist you in any way I can.

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