Adoption and the Internet
by Debbie Martin
Since the first web site with a photolisting was introduced in 1994, many public and private adoption agencies have begun to use the World Wide Web. In October 1996, the Institute conducted an informal survey of members of the adoption community with an identified web presence. Despite a limited number of responses, one theme related to the effectiveness of the Internet emerged. Those organizations launching homepages reported what they felt was an unexpected benefit, their homepages received broad coverage by the traditional media.
Media interest in adoption
In 1988, George Gerbner at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a media analyze of the coverage of adoption. He found that large daily newspapers and popular magazines carry between 20 to 30 stories and articles on adoption each year. He also found that over the 10 year period that his study covered, the frequency of adoption themes increased in popular magazines, social science journals, and books. More recently, a graduate student at the University of Guelph reviewed the portrayal of adoption in the popular literature published between 1981 and 1990 and found a trend in the increasing number of articles appearing as well.
Of course, both studies predate the explosion of the popularity of the Internet.
Combination of adoption and the WWW
The convergence of this often controversial new technology with the often controversial field of adoption has generated media attention. Feature stories on adoption and the Internet have appeared in a range of national newspapers and magazines such as the Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News, and People Weekly. National networks have showcased this phenomenon with primetime coverage. And, the coverage has not been limited to mainstream or popular publications. Computer magazines have been interested in this area as well. The first Internet adoptive success story was reported in March 1996 by the magazine Internet World.
An analysis of "WWW and Adoption" stories shows that all aspects of adoption have been covered, from adopted adults searching to locate birthparents to scandals of black market babies. The majority of the articles have been informative and have directed the reader to the url or web address of the related homepages of public and private adoption agencies.
Most professionals who responded to the Institute's survey supported the utilization of the Web by agencies. Quotes from the professionals, which appear in many of the newspaper and magazine articles, show that they hold a cautiously optimistic view of this new media and its effectiveness for matching waiting children with prospective parents.
List of media coverage of adoption and the Internet.
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