Print or electronic media are sometimes used to recruit adoptive parents or parents considering placing their children for adoption. Paid advertising is also used by some adoption agencies, attorneys or prospective parents who are seeking to adopt infants, while agencies that seek to recruit adoptive parents for WAITING CHILDREN are generally not charged by the media.
Promoting the Adoption of "Waiting Children"
A popular form of advertising used by state social services departments nationwide is the "Wednesday's Child" type of program (or Thursday, Friday or whatever day the feature runs). Usually showing an older or minority child available for adoption, the print media offer a photograph of the child and a brief description along with a telephone number interested parties can call for further information. The television media usually show a videotape of the child, stating his or her first name, basic information about the child's age and other very general information.
The goal is to interest people reading the article or viewing the program and inspire them to investigate adoption, either of this particular child or in general.
Most state adoption offices maintain a photolisting of available adoptable children, and this book is shown to couples and individuals interested in adopting children with SPECIAL NEEDS.
In addition to social service agencies successfully using this advertising/public relations approach, adoptive parent support groups also assist adoption agencies by publishing photos and descriptions of WAITING CHILDREN in their newsletters.
Often, listed children have physical disabilities, although otherwise healthy children may also be included for whom it is hard to find families because of the "special need," such as being black or of mixed race or part of a sibling group.
There are also several national nonprofit groups that sell photolistings of waiting children. One is Children Awaiting Placement (CAP), located in Rochester, New York, which publishes a two-volume listing of children with special needs nationwide and issues biweekly updates.
The International Concerns for Children in Boulder, Colorado, offers a photo listing of about 500 waiting children overseas.
Some tabloids have also run adoption listings of waiting children.
Couples Advertising for Babies
In addition to advertisements or promotions run by adoption agencies, people hoping to adopt infants sometimes use advertising to identify a pregnant woman interested in placing her child. This is the most controversial type of advertising.
Although today it is primarily prospective adoptive parents who advertise their desire to adopt, in the early 1900s parents wishing to place their infants and children with adoptive parents frequently advertised for adoptive parents. A probable reason for the advertising of one's children at that time was the fact that the number of available infants and children exceeded the demand for adoptable children, particularly during the Depression years.
A 1927 monograph by the Church Home Society in Boston condemned such advertising of one's own children, and advertising one's children was a practice ultimately banned in every state. Today such a practice would be considered "baby selling," unlawful in every state in the United States.
Ads placed by prospective parents today usually refer to a couple's infertile status and state in emotional language that they "long for" a child and will provide a good home.
Advertising by private parties seeking to adopt babies is legal in some states, not addressed and therefore considered legal in other states and illegal in others. Some states require a special wording or phraseology to the advertising. In other states, only child-placing agencies may advertise.
In some cases, ads that appear to have been placed by people desperately seeking a baby are actually placed by an attorney or agency trying to identify pregnant women for adoptive parents. (There is no way to know the prevalence of misleading advertising, but it does exist.)
Those who oppose advertising for babies do not approve of a direct contact between a pregnant woman and prospective parents and prefer initial contact be made through a social worker or attorney. They also believe advertising demeans adoption and treats babies as commodities rather than human beings.
Some attorneys approve of placing advertisements themselves but discourage prospective parents from advertising; they believe an attorney is more adept at screening pregnant women and can protect prospective adoptive parents from exploitation. There are also risks involved for pregnant women responding to advertisements, including the risk of contacting an unscrupulous person who plans to sell the baby and defraud the woman. Most pregnant women considering adoption are in a crisis situation and unable to judge the sincerity or reputation of a person through a phone call. They are likely to be completely unaware of adoption laws and are highly vulnerable.
Proponents of advertising insist that it works for both adoptive parents and pregnant women, helping facilitate a match that would not otherwise occur.
Agency Outreach Ads
In recent years some adoption agencies have begun aggressive advertising campaigns, primarily to attract pregnant women considering adoption for their babies. In addition to an ad in the telephone book's yellow pages, larger agencies often offer a toll-free hotline, and some agencies use billboards, brochures and other marketing techniques.
When contacted by a pregnant woman, such responsive agencies act immediately rather than waiting until office hours, while less responsive agencies are not staffed or prepared to handle cases except during business hours. Responsive agencies will often meet the woman at her home or in a designated site, such as a local fast food chain, so she need not go to the agency office.
One method of adoption which relies on advertising is the practice of DESIGNATED ADOPTION or TARGETED ADOPTION, wherein prospective parents find a pregnant woman on their own and ask an adoption agency to perform the home study.
Some agencies encourage prospective parents to advertise for a child and offer to screen pregnant women for the adopting parents. If a caller appears right for the adopting parents, as determined by the agency social worker, then the adoption will take place. (See also AGENCIES; ADOPTIVE PARENTS; BIRTHMOTHER; CAP BOOK; PHOTO LISTINGS.)
Find more information on advertising and promotion
©2000 by Christine Adamec and William Pierce, Ph.D. Reprinted from The Encyclopedia of Adoption, 2nd Edition (2nd Edition) with permission of Facts On File, Inc.
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