Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Family

Last weekend in Toronto a 20 year old boy attacked his parents with a hammer. (Weapon not confirmed by police.)

The parents are in stable condition in intensive care.

The son is in custody — charged with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault.

No further details (as I write this) have been released.

Three separate news sources made a point of referring to the couple as the boy’s, “adoptive parents.”

I have never read a news story where the parents of a child were described as, “the natural parents of…”

Why do they feel obliged to point out this young man was adopted? Are those whose children are not adopted supposed to feel reassured that such a thing could not happen in their families? Rubbish. It can happen in any family. And has.

Are we supposed to think the crime is less tragic or more tragic because this young boy was adopted?

Less? More? To me, neither. It is simply a family tragedy.

I wish journalists, reporters and the like would stop defining families in such a way. I find it distasteful. Actually, that’s putting it mildly. It makes me livid.

Each member of this family needs help and prayers — father, mother and son.


oreneta said...

Here here.

Are there other siblings?

How horrid that whole thing is. How old was the boy. Though I am not sure I want to know.

patricia said...

Exactly. There's absolutely no need to mention that fact. Just trolling for a salacious story angle, that is all.

Anonymous said...


It's a sad tragic event no matter who was involved, where they came from or what they had for breakfast that morning.

I think maybe journalists have word-count to meet and this is what they come up with.

Beth said...

Not too many details being released so I don't know if there are any other siblings. The boy was 20.

That makes sense. Kind of. But what makes the adoptive angle so salacious? My most negative take on this is that they're saying - "So, don't adopt!" Which is utter bullshit. (I'm still mad.)

I so agree. It is sad. It is tragic. No need to mention the adoptive issue. It is a family torn apart and suffering.

Rebecca said...

Reminds me of news reports about Jean Chretien's "adoptive" son who got into trouble with the law. They always pointed out he was adopted, as if to absolve the parents of any blame. (the message is: it wasn't our fault - he isn't really ours.)

On a Hollywood note, stories about Brad and Angelina's kids always point out the two (now three) are adopted. Why not just say "Brad and Angelina and their four children went for a walk..."

Beth said...

You are so right!
Great examples.
I'm still fuming...

Mamma said...

Thanks for saying that. As an adoptee I don't think my parents deserve to be singled out like that. I also don't like it from the child's side. When they point it out like that it's almost as if they might be saying, "well it's not really the parent's fault, they don't share genes and all." As if they might have deserved it if he was genetically related to them. Gets me riled up from both sides.

Dorky Dad said...

Usually, that "adoptive" is mentioned because the police for one reason or another feel it's important to provide that information. Then the reporters run with it, mostly without thinking.

Beth said...

Your situation - and how describing a family in that way upsets you - is exactly why doing so bothers me.
Absolutely not necessary.

dorky dad:
And that kind of begs the question - how do the police find out so quickly and why do they consider it important?

Attila The Mom said...

Not so oddly enough, we bitch about this on adoption forums all the time.

If the government provides our parents with papers that say that we are as if "born to" them, then whose freaking business is it?

Another thing that makes my teeth grind is when the media refers to adults as "adopted children". grrr

Beth said...

You are so right. It is no one's "freaking business" - guess that's what burns me.
And I know this is a subject close to your heart - and to your "anger."

(Take care - and keep up those marks!)

Mom of Three said...

I am adopted. My sister was adopted. I found out later my birth father was adopted.

I was a journalism major. Most of my fellow majors were idiots.

Another sad thing is that the biggest motto of journalism students, so popular, in fact, it could have been stitched into samplers in colleges across the country is "If it bleeds, it leads." The "new" journalism is flat-out lacivious. But that's why I think the industry is planting the seeds of its own destruction.

At this point, newsbloggers are laughed at and not taken seriously, but there are some that have wider readership than papers.

Why not mention the color of his underwear? It's just as relevant. As if there aren't enough kids waiting for adoptive homes, the news media has got to manufacture some "be afraid, be very afraid" craze about adoption to make it worse?

Beth said...

"If it bleeds, it leads."
Perfect summation as to why newspapers use such irrelevant information.
And it doesn't matter who is hurt by doing so.
That "fear factor" thing is one of the biggest gripes I have against the use of such a term.
Take care.

Princess Pointful said...

100% agreed.
Living in Vancouver, we are bombarded with information about the Pickton case.
Yes, we know his victims were all prostitutes. Could the media stop reminding us of that for one moment and teach us anything else about these women?

I wonder how often they mention the career of a victim who does not fall into the category of "immoral" (e.g., prostitute, stripper, homeless) or "super-moral" (e.g., police officer, politician, celebrity). I'm sure some cashiers and bank tellers are victimized, too- but they are just people, not defined by their job.

*phew*- rant over!

Beth said...

princess pointful:
Excellent examples of skewed journalism.
And I refuse to read any more about the Picton trial.

Great rant!