CBS–and Maureen Langan–should be ashamed

Be prepared:  This post has nothing to do with education. 

It has nothing to do with technology or policymakers or media specialists.  Heck, I’m not even going to write about Interactive Whiteboards.  I can’t write about any of those things today because my mind has been completely consumed by one of the most shocking clips that I’ve ever seen on network television.

In a lot of ways, it’s surprising that I’m so riled up.  I hardly ever watch television.  It just so happens that I was home feeding my beautiful adopted daughter this morning and I couldn’t reach the remote—the cat was sitting on it—-so I was stuck watching CBS’s Early Show.

That’s when a segment titled Comedians Joke About the Week came on.  After a few jokes about Sarah Palin, the comedians decided to tackle a topic that surprised me:  The decision made by a mother this week to send her adopted son back to Russia with nothing more than a note in his backpack explaining that she didn’t want him anymore.

The case is honestly heartbreaking—-especially to a guy like me who worked 70+ hours a week for five years to raise enough money to adopt the child that my wife and I couldn’t have biologically.

I feel for everyone involved:  The 7-year old Russian boy forced to feel like a throwaway, the Tennessee mother who felt so unprepared for parenthood that she made a decision that she’ll never live down and the thousands of other parents whose long-awaited Russian adoptions have been put on hold as a result of her actions.

Honestly, there’s nothing funny about the situation at all, so I was surprised to see it in the CBS clip.  My surprise turned dark when comedienne Maureen Langan made a joke that went a little something like this:

“This could be a good thing.  It could lead to an increase in domestic adoptions.  After all, sending a child back on Jet Blue is a lot cheaper than sending a child back on Air Kremlin.”

To suggest that adoptive parents are looking for an easy out when times get tough is nothing short of insulting, Ms. Langan.  We’re not celebrities you know, picking out new kids from new countries like they’re poodles.  Instead, we’re compassionate humans working to bring love into the life of another.

We struggle with our own inability to have children.  We worry about whether or not our adopted children will embrace us.  We work endless hours to pay crushing fees, we wonder how our families and friends will react to our new additions, and we wait—sometimes for years—to become parents.

And most of us would never think about walking away from our children. 

Had Ms. Langan stopped there, maybe it would be easy to excuse her for pushing the envelope just a bit too far.  The problem is she didn’t stop.  In fact, her next joke was even worse.  When speaking about the future of the abandoned boy involved in this case, Ms. Langan said something that went a little like this:

“Now that he’s back with his drinking buddies, he’ll be fine.”

Are you kidding me? 

You’re going to poke fun at a child who has lost his family twice during the course of his first decade on earth?  Don’t you think that’s a bit harsh?  Shouldn’t we feel regret that there are children in the world who are stuck in conditions we wouldn’t wish on anyone?  Is it really funny to laugh about a life ruined?

Did you think that was okay just because Artem—he’s a real person with a real name, Maureen—hasn’t got a family to stick up for him?  Cheap humor is appropriate when it comes at the expense of children whose birth parents can’t care for them?

What’s more, how do you think your humor looks to parents raising children born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, an all-too-common problem facing the children left in Russian orphanages?  Is it really okay to trivialize a problem that leaves thousands of children with serious emotional problems and learning disabilities each year?

Nope.  Not in my mind.

Who knows…maybe I’m overreacting.  Maybe you should ignore my post completely.  Maybe I’m an oversensitive adoptive parent.

Or maybe I’m a decent person taking a stand against tasteless comedy.

That’s your choice to make.

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