Maggie Makes Four!

This journal started off documenting the adoption of our youngest daughter. It now follows the twist and turns of our lives as we raise these two amazing little creatures into the best women they can become.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A Long Overdue Rant

Something has been bothering me for a week now and I just need to get this off of my chest. It is the Oprah show on the situation of girls in China.

For those who missed the show, Oprah did a show last Thursday on abandoned and abused children in Africa and China. We Tivo'd it, so I skipped the Africa segment, but I was so disappointed with the way Oprah handled the China segment. Oprah led off the China segment with scenes from a BBC documentary shot in the mid-1990's, called "The Dying Room." This documentary showed deplorable conditions in Chinese orphanages. The BBC reporters who shot this did so undercover and the scenes they captured humilitated the Chinese government, forcing major reforms in the SWI. The second part of the Oprah segment on China focused on the recent Lisa Ling, National Geographic Extreme Explorer, China's Lost Girls. Lisa Ling was the guest and she candidly discussed her experiences traveling with an adoption group, visiting an orphanage and researching the one child policy in China. To me, the time seemed slanted toward the older footage, but my perception is probably skewed.

I am bothered by Oprah's show because people are going to see the very sensationalized scenes from "The Dying Room" and believe that is the current conditions of orphanages in China. Those conditions did exist at one time. There is no denying that fact. However, Oprah neglected to clearly state, illustrate or even address the reforms that have taken place since that documentary was aired. After a commercial, Lisa Ling led off her segment stating that China has vastly improved conditions in its orphanages, but Lisa Ling's segment focused more on adoption. The show left unanswered the current conditions in Chinese orphanages and I doubt Lisa Ling's comments regarding reform were heard. After seeing the show, I felt Oprah missed an incredibly positive aspect of the story to focus on old news because it made a better, more emotional story. Shame on her!

I have been to both La Nina's and Maggie's orphanages and I saw nothing like the scenes I saw on Oprah. Did their orphanages meet US standards? No, they didn't. However, the institutes that cared for my girls weren't dark, Oliver Twist-like places. The orphanages were clean and the staff was efficient. In both cases, the orphanages had activity rooms and sleeping quarters that were obviously well used. Each orphanage had its strengths and weaknesses. I walked away from both orphanages thinking the staff was doing the best they could for their charges. I walked away thinking both of my girls had at least one person who took an interest in them. And I walked away thinking "Thank Goodness I got my baby out of there". But I didn't walk away thinking children were neglected, abandoned or abused in either place. To see orphanages in China represented so poorly in the US mass media by an icon like Oprah was really disappointing.

Ultimately, I pray segments like Oprah's don't scare prospective parents and keep them from pursuing Chinese adoption. I hope people remember the success stories rarely get told because there is no story to tell.

If you want to see a great show on the situation in China, I recommend the Lisa Ling, National Geographic Extreme Explorer. It was a very fair handling of the topic. If the Oprah program reruns, I wouldn't bother watching it. It wasn't worth the time. And if you work with me, you may officially abuse me for watching Oprah!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home