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Neglecting the children

Adoption | Four major media outlets curiously fall far short on coverage of National Adoption Month

Issue: "Daniel of the Year 2004," Dec. 11, 2004

November has been National Adoption Month every year since 1990 by presidential proclamation, so major newspapers have plenty of time to get ready for it, and adoption groups work hard to get their stories out. And yet, WORLD's Lexis/Nexis search for articles noting even the existence of National Adoption Month this year found that four powerful organs-The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today-had a total of zero.

A fifth, The Washington Post, mentioned the Month only in its Oct. 28 rundown of upcoming events in Howard County, Md., alongside a library costume party, yoga classes, a ghostly stories program, aquatic exercises, a bird walk, and other estimable activities.

We threw the net wider on Lexis-Nexis by just typing in "adoption" for November.

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The Washington Post included the word frequently because of its regular headline, "To Adopt an Animal." Articles noted that Larry, a kitten; Sissy, a young adult female Jack Russell terrier; Slinky, a young adult ferret; Penny, a spayed female terrier mix; and many more were all "available for adoption."

Some adoption groups have given up on a month's worth of attention and now settle for an Adoption Day; the Post had a good story that quoted an older adoptive dad saying, "It took the power of God to make us realize we could do this at our age." The Los Angeles Times reported a thrice-yearly "Best Friend Pet Adoption Festival" but also had a short Adoption Day story, as did The New York Times.

The Times, though, gave more space to a story about horses unsuccessfully offered for adoption three times and now scheduled to be slaughtered. Meanwhile, USA Today and the Chicago Tribune ignored even the Day. (The Tribune did report that some companies give financial help to employees who adopt.)

Overall, leading newspapers certainly underreported a great national need. In fiscal year 2003, parents adopted some 50,000 children from public child-welfare agencies, but 523,000 children remain in the foster care system in the United States today, with more than 118,000 available for adoption. Of these children, 64 percent are over age 5, with the average age being 8 years old, so the clock is ticking for them: If they aren't adopted soon, they probably never will be. About 28 percent of the children are African-American and 16 percent are Hispanic; they face the hardest roads.

Why the under-reporting? Perhaps some pro-aborts don't like to publicize adoption because every happily placed child is a visible attack on their argument from necessity. But truly pro-choice people should desire to promote adoption. As always, it's hard to know what is ignorance among journalists at those five newspapers and what is malice.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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