June 30, 2011
A lot of people in my world – that’s the one in which words like “adoption,” “foster care,” “orphan,” “search and reunion,” and “birth/first parents” are used almost every day – wonder why I talk to journalists so much when so many of them seem to understand so little about the issues we’re most concerned about.
Here’s why I do it: The media play a critical role in every society in huge ways, most pointedly by helping to shape popular attitudes and understandings about a wide, diverse array of topics. That’s true about presidential politics, international affairs, restaurant reviews and, of course, about the issues that profoundly affect the people in my world. Alas, generations of secrecy and stigma relating to those issues (and to the people they affect) have undermined public understanding of them by everyone from policy-makers to members of our own communities to … wait for it … the media.
So the short answer is that I talk to journalists so much because I know from having been one myself for 25 years that, believe it or not – and I know many readers of this blog won’t believe it – most of them really want to get it right and, once educated on a subject, will try hard to do so. The problem is that they, like the rest of the society in which they live and work, are the products of all the secrecy and stigma and shame that pervaded the world of adoption for generations.
Journalists cannot print or air anything unless someone says it to them, so one of my missions – as Executive Director of the Adoption Institute and author of the new edition of Adoption Nation – is to use all those words I mentioned in the first paragraph above, and many others that have become routine parts of my vocabulary, to explain our realities; unravel our mysteries; dispel our myths; shatter our stereotypes; and, as best as I can, promote better attitudes and understandings in the media, through the media and, eventually, to the broad range of readers, viewers and listeners whom they reach.
All of this is a long way of telling you that I’ve had a very busy few weeks talking to reporters, producers and TV/radio hosts. Many of the interviews grew out of promotion for my book, and I make no secret of the fact that I want at least one zillion people to buy it, read it and learn from it. But I promise you that, first and foremost, I enter every interview with my primary role being that of educator, and my goal being to improve life for everyone on the planet we inhabit.
Whew! Now here’s a list of most of the media in which I’ve appeared in the last few weeks:
- June 27 – The Today show, discussing the effect of social media on search and reunions. To see the interview, go to: http://tinyurl.com/TodayShowPertman.
- June 10 – F OX News online, discussing the decline in international adoptions and the growth of adoptions from foster care: http://tinyurl.com/FoxNewsPertman.
- June 9 – WGN News, Chicago, focused on the Institute’s work, my new book, and tips for those thinking of adopting: http://tinyurl.com/WGNAdoptionNation.
- June 7 – ABC affiliate News 10’s Sacramento & Co., talking about Father’s Day, as well as about respecting children’s heritage: http://tinyurl.com/ABCSacramento.
- June 8 – The AARP Bulletin, discussing Americans adopting at older ages, in particular from foster care: http://tinyurl.com/AARPFosterCare.
- June 23 — The Overdrive, NPR in Chicago, on a segment about transracial adoption and its effects on families: http://tinyurl.com/NPRAdoption.