I was sent this ad by a fellow Korean adoptee from the Netherlands, and found it quite disturbing. It’s part of a series of ads by the Indian Association for Promotion of Adoption and Child Welfare (for more about this campaign, click here).
Perhaps the most viscerally disturbing part of this series is the way it completely uses a child to fulfill the needs of adults. To me, it re-emphasizes the idea that children are vehicles for adult self-esteem and identity and is completely opposite of my own personal stance on adoption which is about the child first and foremost.
This ad campaign won several prestigious awards, and to the casual observer perhaps it doesn’t seem like much to fuss about. However, there are too many of us adoptees who have lived with the reality of being this child, emotionally catering to the selfish needs of adoptive parents who adopted us because they wanted someone to love them unconditionally. Sorry, but it’s the other way around; parents love their children unconditionally. Children, as any parent knows, totally love their parents on a conditional basis. Anyone who has parented a toddler or a teenager will know this first hand.
I’m all for promoting same-country adoption, which this ad appears to be aimed towards. However, it doesn’t mitigate the disturbing nature of the way adoption is portrayed. The fictional or archetype child featured in these ad campaigns have already experienced the insufficiency of their love to hold on to their first parents; why would it make any sense that their love would be sufficient enough to hold on to another family? And furthermore, why is it the child’s responsibility to do so?