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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Media Misinformation

In the past month since welcoming home our sons from Haiti, I have not watched the Chilean news on television nor have I read a Chilean newspaper. While I stay aware of the situation through English news outlets, I am basically out of touch with what is being reported here in this country regarding Haiti; the aftermath of the earthquake; and more pertinently, the children of Haiti.

Unfortunately, from conversations people have initiated with Pedro and me it would seem that the Chilean media is reporting every negative story it can find. I've lost track of the number of people who have felt the need to inform me about the trafficking of children and/or human organs in Haiti. Of course, the story that is repeated time and again to us is that of the ten Americans accused of child trafficking.

Each time, I find myself trying to painstakingly point out that the media tends to exaggerate and will print whatever is going to sell newspapers. Yes, child trafficking and the trafficking of human organs is despicable and vile. Yes, as far as the ten Americans go their actions were obviously very flawed, foolish and unfortunate (not to mention that they caused a great deal of harm to legitimate efforts by adoptive families to evacuate their children.) But let's be for real here - speaking from the perspective of someone who lives as a conspicuous minority in a foreign country - who in their right mind is going to use a very visible group of gringos, including teenagers, to try and traffic children out of their country of origin? Wouldn't they want to try and be, I don't know, just a little bit more subtle?? And as far as organ trafficking goes (while sadly I am sure that under certain circumstance it may be a horrific reality) I know for a fact that it has been "urban legend" in Haiti for a very long time. Even on our first visit to Haiti in early 2008 we were told that many people believed children were adopted for this purpose. To date, I am (thankfully) not aware of evidence that substantiates this claim.

My frustration with the media is their sensationalism without regard to factual information. For instance, I was alerted to the fact that Chilean media was criticizing the United States for "expediting" adoptions. We have since had many people think that we just hopped on over to Haiti and picked ourselves up a couple of kids. Pedro and I have started to make it a point to preface any conversation with the fact that the adoption of our sons was finalized prior to the earthquake and that we had been in process to adopt them for two years prior to the quake.

Anyway! After yet another instance of having to patiently set a well-educated, well-meaning adult straight today I just wanted to get this off my chest. Although frankly it annoys me that people don't use their own cognitive abilities to qualify the veracity of what a newspaper or television station reports, I know this goes with the territory.

I just wish sometimes it wasn't my children who were the objects of their speculation and misinformation.


Amanda said...

Well said, Stephanie. Sometimes you just have to shake your head and wonder if folks were ever taught to question things they are told, or use a little critical thinking. Sigh. Might have been helpful if those 10 Americans had done the same.

Corey and Nicki Shields said...

Nicely put. Thank you for sharing. I have recently learned that there is an International Adoption agreement, but Japan has not signed. They are concerned about the very issue of child trafficking. However, what this has done has stopped any adoptions from Japan to overseas completely. We know an agency that used to be able to place special needs kids that got "dumped" on them easily in the States into loving Christian homes, now the children are still being "dumped" but no one in Japan wants them. Sad but true.

We are permitted to adopt because we live here. Once the adoption is finalized, we could, if we wanted, move back to the States with no additional problems from the government (or so we have been told).

Praying for these little ones of the world who need good homes.