The medium of videotape can be used very creatively, both in preparing children for an adoptive placement as well as in recruiting prospective adoptive parents. The videotape is a nonthreatening way for prospective adoptive parents to learn about a child, and a videotape of a family is a nonthreatening way for a child to learn about a particular family.
Television stations that offer "Wednesday's Child" or similar formats on waiting adoptable children with special needs will usually videotape the child and show the tape during a news program in an effort to recruit adoptive parents. This effort is geared toward the general public; however, individual agencies also create their own videotapes, showing them to families who might be suitable for particular children.
Said authors Glynne Gervais and Marilyn Panichi in Mostly I Can Do More Things Than I Can't, "A child can be seen in action and interacting. His personality, skills, and abilities are evident." If a child has a disability, it may be difficult to imagine the extent of the disability or how an individual child copes with a disability from reading about it in a written description. A videotape can show a family how the child looks, acts and feels.
Some agencies videotape prospective adoptive families in their own home and show the tapes to children, who, experts say, eagerly watch the tapes over and over, helping them a great deal with the preparation process.
Videotapes can also be used to help separated siblings keep in touch with each other or to help them prior to a planned reuniting of the siblings.
The primary disadvantage of videotape is that it is more costly and cumbersome than a photolisting book and requires more labor and training if it is to be done well. A "home video" while helpful for some purposes, may not give a full picture of the child.
Videotapes reveal far more than a photograph and a written description of a child. Say Gervais and Panichi, "Adoption has been described by some of our waiting children on videotapes in the following way: 'Adoption means love. Adoption means having a family to come home to for the holidays when I'm older. Adoption means not having to bounce like a basketball from home to home.' Words like these, spoken by a child, can have more impact than the slickest, most imaginatively planned media campaign."
Mostly I Can Do More Things Than I Can't was published by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in 1987.
In recent years, the use of videotapes has become the norm in certain types of international adoption. Medical records from Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union are often scanty, incomplete, inaccurate or completely uninterpretable, because of differing terminology. In such cases, a videotape may be very helpful in confirming or refuting the written medical report. From other countries, videotapes are primarily used to recruit families for children with special needs, just as they are used in the United States.
Videotapes may sometimes be revealing while other times they are very concealing. For example, if an infant is closely swaddled, it is hard to draw many conclusions about the child's physical or developmental condition. If the child is videotaped on a "bad day" or when he is ill, he may exhibit atypical behavior and thus be condemned to not being chosen for adoption. On the plus side, videotapes may sometimes enable physicians to discern FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME or other physical abnormalities. Parents who do adopt the child will then be far more prepared to provide the care the child needs.
The best videotapes show the child demonstrating his best skills (motor, language, etc.) in a familiar setting with the usual playmates and caretakers.
Find more information on videotape
©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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