Thursday, July 24, 2008

Responding to comment on photolistings

silpheed-tandy writes in response to my post on photolistings:

i did not know photolistings were so encoded with such indirect language,
instead of being upfront. i'm curious, do you think this is a good thing or not?
does it entice capable people to foster parent who otherwise would've been
scared off, or do you think it instead doesn't give the proper information that
potential foster parents would want right from the initial stages?
This is so difficult to answer, partly because if the world were the way I would design it, there woudn't be publically accessible photolistings at all. I would be willing to compromise on having one or two mini-profiles available for advertising, but otherwise I think only people with passwords, which presumably they would get in classes should be able to get in. These profiles I would want to be more complete and honest.

Partly because sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, you know? If a description says that a child will need to build up trust before attaching, it may very well be code for reactive attachment disorder, but it might just mean that this child needs to built up trust before attaching. But the main reason I am uncomfortable with the photolistings is that they don't respect kids' privacy. The similarities between,, and is hard to miss. You have to have a membership and password to get into any of the dating services, for pete's sake.

Children in the system have had their boundaries violated in every possible way. I find it ironic that the profiles, which violate a child's privacy, so often talk about the child needing help developing boundaries. Sometimes the whole system is just so messed up. How do we help children learn how to discriminate between strangers and friends when other people are constantly knowing intimate details of their lives before they've even met?

Yeah, the photolistings bother me at multiple levels. At best they are a necessary evil in a flawed world.

And I don't know a better way to entice foster parents, but I guess I wouldn't want more detailed, honest, and negative profiles to be available to every curious person with access to a computer. But that doesn't mean that those of us who read them shouldn't be very aware that they are not giving you the information you really need to make any sort of decision.


  1. As I mentioned in Torina's blog comments, here in Australia there are no photolistings. To 'entice' permanent carers we have occasional media efforts featuring a 'poster child' which is usually followed by a rush of interested callers, who are directed to information sessions, and then onto training (with lots dropping off along the way, of course). Again, I don't know how successful we are at placing older or special needs kids compared to you in the States, so how do we know if these photolistings are really needed?

  2. As someone considering adoption, I have no problem with the fuzzy language of photolistings. If we are going to publicize these at all, the least we can do is to word them in a way that would not humiliate the child if their friends ever stumbled across it. And really all we need is to raise interest long enough for potential parents to ask about the child.

    My problem is with the information given after an inquiry is made. I realize in that case you are still sharing private information with someone the child has never met. However if the goal is to find a good placement for the child, I really think the information here HAS to be accurate, or at least as accurate as possible. Wait until you have looked at the homestudy and decided this is a possible/likely placement, if you want, but don't wait until after they have met the kid. Glossing over the reality at that point is just cruel - it's unfair to the potential parents, and it's unfair to the child.


Comments will be open for a little while, then I will be shutting them off. The blog will stay, but I do not want either to moderate comments or leave the blog available to spammers.