Featuring some of the most offensive content on adoption we have seen in some time, and stemming from a film called Catwalk Kids, this documentary highlights the practice of pushing adoptive children down a catwalk in front of prospective parents with a view to finding children in care a permanent home.
If the name of this 2011 documentary alone doesn’t make your blood boil, the short trailer will. Eighteen seconds in, and what appears to be a spokesperson for this embarrassing policy tells us, “We assumed these children were un-adoptable.” This is what kick starts a rationale which tries to justify placing children on display in order to secure adoptions for some of the most vulnerable children in America. The same spokesman tells the interviewer, “This is for the children. This is for them.” Not for the State then, desperately trying to rid itself of a massive financial burden.*
Unable to find secure placements for children in need, those interviewed for the documentary explain that as the current strategy to find homes was not working, a new and radical plan was needed. Rather than look for an intelligent solution, the authorities involved decide to glamourise the adoption process by making these children ‘perform’ up and down a makeshift catwalk.
No one seems to have considered what damage this is doing to their self-esteem, or general development. At best, these children may grow up thinking that in order to be loved they must be fun, glamorous and engaging. At worst, those children who are not ‘chosen’, may develop mental health difficulties that will linger on into adulthood.
The stupidity of this practice just takes our breath away.
As does a scene in the trailer in which another buffoon justifies their warped idea of a ‘whatever it takes’ mentality by saying, “This is a business,” and another declaring, “Without marketing, we would have to close our doors.”
The documentary does attempt to give different views on America’s Fashion Parade policy. In a thought-provoking segment of the film, one of our favourite British child welfare campaigners David Akinsanya, talks about the flaws in our own adoption policies and the ways in which the government has let children down. Of the State’s involvement in raising children, David says,
“How dare we as the State say we’re going to take children away from inadequate parents and then be inadequate parents ourselves? ”
The documentary also touches on adoption practices around the world, including the UK’s own National Adoption Week, when the Sun newspaper runs ads with children’s photos and details about them with a view to securing adoptions. This practice, which is not exclusive to The Sun, continues to raise serious concerns about children’s right to privacy and just as importantly their safety. These images are circulated to The Sun’s 5 million strong readership, and more once the Sun’s website, which they also use to ‘advertise’ children, is included.
The name of the film is of course designed to grab your attention and upset you, but much like the practice of throwing children onto a catwalk the premise is lacking in substance and completely misses the point. Making a sale is not equal to a happy ending.
Catwalk Kids is available to watch on Amazon, and is free for those with Amazon Prime or Amazon’s monthly video package.
*Stats from 2006