Negative newspaper headlines upsets mom


Sarah Reid
Focus on Adoption magazine

When local media featured the story of a woman who allegedly killed her mother, they made a point of stating that the accused was adopted.

“Adopted daughter charged.”

That is not a headline an adoptive mother wants to see. It’s not a headline an adoptive mother wants her children to see.

The story is tragic—a middle-aged woman was arrested and charged in the killing of her elderly mother. A terrible allegation. I just don’t see why the adoption detail needed to be included. When I first saw the story, I sat down and wrote a thoughtful but direct email to the story’s editor (below).

  • The fact that a person was adopted should be mentioned only if it’s essential to the story
  • “She was adopted” rather than “She is adopted,” is preferable
  • Only if a child is truly an orphan, should the term be used. Often, birth parents are alive
  • Adoptive parents aren’t “saintly.” People adopt because they want to be parents.

Then I Googled the name of the accused to see how many other headlines popped up. Every single article included the fact that she was adopted. How disappointing. I’m only glad my son is too young to understand the article. In the end, I decided to notify the editor of every newspaper that ran the story’s irrelevant detail so that they had a chance to think about their word choice.

So far, I’ve received one apology from a journalist from The Province newspaper—he explained that the adoption fact was provided by the police, and he was simply using the facts provided.

After my complaint, and possibly, others, the CBC removed the reference to adoption from their online edition.

Dear Editor,

As an adoptive mother, and sibling to five through adoption, I find it upsetting that you needed to include the fact that Vancouver’s latest accused murderer committed her crime against her adoptive mother. Were you taken in by the recent horror movie “Orphan?” Do you believe that children who join their families through adoption have a predisposed tendency to kill their parents? Or are you simply trying to illustrate that a woman fell victim to the violent rage (allegedly, of course) of her daughter, and, oh, and by the way, it was perpetrated by the child she adopted? It’s estimated that one in five Canadians are touched by adoption—meaning they, or someone they know, came to their family through this ancient custom. Every year, BC families welcome over 600 children into their homes. Perhaps you haven’t heard any successful adoption stories. Or perhaps you have, but don’t know that adoption is part of the story.

Newspaper headlines like yours, however, with their negative undertones about adoption, don’t help the situation for BC’s Waiting kids. Each year, 300 are adopted, but there are 700 more who wait—sometimes never getting that chance at a forever family. If you’d like to do an article on one of the many success stories, it’s worth a visit to Perhaps you can turn at least one person’s mind towards believing in adoption. Who knows, it might even be your own.


Sarah Reid