Why do the Americans stage fashion shows for children awaiting adoption- and should we try it in Europe?
In this documentary we travel to Middle America to witness the extraordinary aggressive marketing of children. The catwalks are highly controversial. But they work; those children deemed impossible to adopt- teenagers, sibling groups and those with special needs- very often find permanent homes thanks to these events.
But critics claim that putting the most vulnerable members of society on display in this way is dangerous and question the motives of adults who appear to be “shopping for a child”.
But it doesn’t stop at fashion shows- weekly TV spots, adoption conferences, online videos and photo exhibitions featuring children for adoption are just some of the innovative recruitment efforts employed by both private and public adoption agencies to prevent the tragic “aging out” some 28,000 young people each year.
Why does it matter? Who cares if these children age out of foster care and end up on their own? Studies have shown that these young people are much more likely to become homeless, suffer mental illness, and ultimately, end up in the criminal justice system.
With unprecedented access we speak to adoption industry insiders, social workers and parents, as well as children participating in these events –some who have been lucky enough to find families, and others who continue to wait, and wait and wait.
In Europe we look at the situation in the UK and Spain.
Spain is in the midst of a genuine revolution in its child protection legislation. As nobody knows for sure how many children are actually in care, or how many children age out of the system each year ,the Senate Committee on Adoption is having a hard time trying to establish new working practices and above all, shorten the process, which can take up to 10 years- a torturous wait for both children and parents. Until now marketing in adoption has been seen as a dirty word, but will that change?
The UK, traditionally very conservative, is gradually starting to imitate its American friends, employing limited marketing strategies to increase the numbers of adoptions. The involvement of the media and celebrities is bringing the issue to the fore and so far, has proved successful
So which system is right? Do the children suffer fear and humiliation in these events? Is it an acceptable short-term sacrifice if they then find a family? Is the risk of public rejection worth it?
Are the catwalks the lesser of two evils?
Co-Production with TVE and TV3