For a completely normal reason I found myself on a local council website today. And instead of being greeted by messages about new waste disposal schemes or some new building that’s going to be constructed, instead what first caught my eye was a big box at the top right of the page advertising National Adoption Week.
Underneath, there was a link which you could click which would take you to a page listing all the children in the local area who need adopting.
I was in shock, but also wanted to know more, not because I’m currently in a position to adopt a child, but more because I wanted to verify that this really was what it looked like. So I clicked on the link and was duly taken to a page which listed all of the ‘available’ children in the area who need a family. Each child even had his or her own PDF which gave some more information about them.
I understand why the Council have done this. It won’t be (well I sincerely hope it won’t) for any malicious reason, it will probably be because they think that through better ‘exposure’ these babies and children will more easily find a family and a permanent home. But the stark way that they are listed like this for all to see on the internet has a very sinister edge to it.
I honestly can’t imagine how I’d feel if I saw an ‘advertisement’ for myself on my local council’s website, desperately seeking me a family. It would make me feel so unwanted and rejected. Most of the children and babies on there are probably not quite old enough yet to find themselves on there, but they may well find the link to it if they Google their names when they grow up, and surely this will be a truly harrowing moment.
And indeed a couple of the children on the list are as old as eight or nine. This may sound young, but children these days have a surprisingly high aptitude with computers and the internet, so it really wouldn’t surprise me if they were very easily able to navigate their way to their own PDF right now.
In their best interests?
I really do think these children’s feelings should have been considered more carefully. We seem to have become a rather crass society, ‘advertising’ children in the same way the RSPCA puts pictures of homeless animals up on their website, or worse the way a travel company puts up available holiday packages.
It breaks my heart that these children are having to go through the painful process of adoption as it is, without them going through the embarrassment of finding themselves ‘advertised’ like some kind of available product on the internet.
And as far as the argument of ‘hopefully someone will see it and suddenly realise they want to adopt’ is concerned, to me this is a very naive argument. Adopting a child is a VERY big decision for anyone to make. And I really don’t see why anyone would want this massive decision to be made by someone who saw an ‘ad’ in the internet and on a whim decided this is actually something that they quite fancy doing.
The list should be taken down immediately and in its place should be a very thorough, eye-catching document giving details about how to adopt, why to adopt and exactly what adoption entails. The identities and details about children who need a family should be protected very carefully, only available for those who make serious enquiries and who pass a multitude of interviews to see. These are vulnerable human beings and they deserve a lot more respect and love than this.
By Sophie Hudson