Sunday, October 17, 2010

Adoption in the Media

One of the panels at the conference was about representations of adoption in the media.  An audience member mentioned this report about a 13-year-old girl accused of poisoning her adoptive family:
The Orange County Sheriff's Office is investigating an incident in which a 13-year-old girl is accused of poisoning members of her family, reported.

Investigators said the girl confessed to putting roach and rodent poison, as well as dog feces, in food eaten by her adoptive mother. They also said she placed hand soap in her drinking water.

There is concern that the family's two biological children may also have been poisoned. It is believed that girl's actions began sometime in early 2009 and continued through April of 2010.

The adoptive mother told investigators that recent toxicology tests have shown traces of arsenic in her blood, and for the past year, she has seen her health deteriorate. At this point, she has refused to press charges against the girl.

Neighbors said the family provided love and a home for the girl, whom they adopted from Mexico years back, and even sent her to a private school.

"I was shocked," said an acquaintance of the family, who told that she had received an e-mail from the family asking neighbors to keep them in their prayers.

The Florida Department of Children and Family Services reported that mental health services were provided months ago, when the family needed assistance.

Orange County detectives said these are acts of domestic violence and the investigation will continue before charges are sent to the State Attorney's Office.

In the meantime, the incident report states that the girl is staying at a health care facility, because she has been categorized as a threat to her family and society.

If a charge is brought against the girl, it likely would be for felony poisoning. Because she is adopted, she can not be deported.
So what do you think of this article in terms of media reporting about adoption?  More about what the panel said later -- I'm on the plane home and can't reach my notes!


Von said...

Interesting that it is geared towards the wrong doing of the adoptee, possibly a traumatised desperate child and does not look at any possible wrong doing of the adopter.Did she have unrealistic expectations of adoption or the adoptee? Was she adequately and honestly prepared and briefed?What was her behaviour and treatment of the adoptee and how was it different from how she treated the biological children? And so on and on.......

DannieA said...

the article left out any conversation about RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder)

I don't think it's anything wrong on the adoptee or the family...I think the media and people automatically assumes that with older child adoption..."love" sometimes doesn't isn't the fairy tale answer.

Mirah Riben said...


Sorry I didn't know you were at the conference. Would have liked to say hello!

I have blogged about this:

One of the major problems with all news stories is lack of sufficient information. How old was this child when she was adopted? It seems it may have been an older child adoption. Where was she prior to adoption? Was she abused by her original family, foster family, poor institutional care? or was she abused - even subtly or overtly - by her adoptive mother?

While at the conference, I got to see the film, I Love You Mommy, about an 8-year old Chinese girl being made to leave the loving foster family (Mom, Dad and sister) she had lived with most all of her life, to be taken of by total strangers - having never even seen a non-Chinese before!

Her trauma is palpable as she is expected to accept this stranger immediately as "Mommy." She is forced to suddenly be immersed in total English language and forgets all of her Chinese within 18 months to the point that she is then unable to communicate any longer with her foster sister expect through translators.

It was very painful for me to watch. It felt to me like abuse. Some may see the end justifying it all, I do not. Point is, do we know if this young Mexican girl was torn from siblings? Do we know how it feels to be her? How angry he might at those who took her from all she has known?

It amazes me how in contested adoption - such as the one currently in the headlines involving Grayson - we hear outcries NOt to tear the child from "the only family they have ever known" and yet we do it all the time to children identified as "orphans" and praise it!!

Doe sit not feel the same tot he child no matter who is doing the pulling away and the tearing from the known tot unknown? Watching it played out in the film was like witnessing a kidnapping...with the kidnappers sometimes dying the child's hair and changing their appearance...only in this case it was the language that was changed to make her "American."

And the adoptive mother, arrives back from 10 days in China and the first thing she says at the airport is how good it is to hear English again, while forcing this child to learn English form DAY ONE in the hotel in China!! Then admonishing her repeatedly in long English sentences: "I cannot help you if you cannot communicate to me what it is you want!" Ir was excruciatingly painful to watch.

My heart is with this Mexican child until we learn the details. A child doesn't do harm like this for no reason...and why did the mother make a police issue of it and not just a matter for family therapy and help for the child??

Susan said...

I found this particular story skewed a bit, too, as if the writer and neighbors were a bit shocked that this child was not simply GRATEFUL to be adopted (I mean, they sent her to PRIVATE SCHOOL). *the upper case words are sarcasm in case it's not clear*

I'm a newspaper editor and so work to eliminate bais in language, so this kind of writing gets me going. And I certainly would have had a lot more questions about the situation, as other writers mentioned.

Katie said...

I'm curious if the little girl really did that or if they pressured her into saying she did. I mean 'trace amounts of arsenic'? Trace? Come on. Arsenic can be found in a lot of things treated with pesticides. Wine, even.

But I'm certainly getting the RAD feeling here. Or at least a deeper issue that should have been looked into before it got this far.

I'm heart broken about how it was made to look.