LETTER TO RETAILERS AND MARKETERS OF MIDDLETON DOLLS AND “NEWBORN NURSERY ADOPTION CENTERS”
To Whom It May Concern:
I am the Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, the pre-eminent policy, research and education organization in its field. The Institute is a nonpartisan, independent, national nonprofit that does not place children for adoption and has no financial stake in the process; rather, our work is designed solely to improve the lives of the tens of millions of people touched by adoption – especially children.
I thought it important to start with that introduction so you understand that my ensuing comments are based on extensive research, broad experience and widely accepted “best practices” in modern child welfare, and are not just the personal sentiments of someone you may (incorrectly) perceive as overly sensitive or politically correct. I’ve also attached a bio for your background. Okay, finally, I will get to the point:
Your concept of offering Middleton dolls for “adoption” is based on antiquated, discredited perceptions; today’s practices are far more sensitive and child-centered, a reality not reflected in your marketing. Indeed, your campaign is insidiously offensive, stigmatizing and demeaning, and it should end. The consumer letters and calls you already have received are the tip of an iceberg of discontent, and I’m certain – based on past experience in comparable situations such as the television show “Who’s Your Daddy,” which was cancelled amid similar complaints – that for every adoptive parent, birth parent, adult adoptee and adoption professional who contacts you, there are thousands more who will not take the time, but who also feel justifiably aggrieved.
I am sure this idea’s creators did not intend to hurt or alienate anyone. Unfortunately, adoption’s history of secrecy has left too many people uninformed about the realities of the process and of its participants – and unintended, harmful consequences sometimes are the result. This is a textbook example of such a time.
In a nutshell, (1) promoting the selection and sale of babies in this way (especially according to physical traits) deprecates the adoption process by turning an intensely profound experience into a superficial, commercial enterprise; (2) suggesting adoptive parents shop for babies as they do for refrigerators perpetuates damaging, inaccurate myths about how adoption works and sends corrosive, undermining messages about adoptive families; (3) implicitly eliminating the key people in the process – i.e., the women and men who give life to the babies, and who in infant adoption today typically choose the new parents for their children – is degrading and unrealistic; and (4) inducing consumers (especially the young ones who are most impressionable, but also their mothers and fathers) to believe adopted children are commodities is egregious and risks fomenting another generation of negative, uninformed attitudes toward adopted people, all of their parents, and adoption per se.
The “Newborn Nursery Adoption Center” is problematical from start to finish and, again, it should stop. Perhaps it is yielding profits for you, but at what cost? Would you continue such a sales campaign if it offended a religious or ethnic group? Please feel free to contact me to discuss this further or to receive more information. I can be reached at 617-332-8944 or [email protected] Thank you very much for listening.