Sunday, September 12, 2010

Slander

"Slander: a false, malicious statement (spoken or published), especially one which is injurious to a person's reputation"

I'm having one of those days where my world of being an adoptive parent and my world of being an adoption coordinator are colliding.

As an adoptive parent, I have been very outspoken about my experiences (both positive and negative) with the agencies we've employed to assist with our adoptions. I firmly believe that we, as adoptive parents, should be able to report negative experiences without the worry of an agency coming back and threatening to sue for "slander" if we don't keep our comments to ourselves. People have to be able to learn about unethical agencies. People need to be brave and share the truth.

Truth. Therein lies the problem.

When I've spoken out about negative experiences I've had, I've spoken the truth *OR* have been very clear that this has been MY experience or is MY opinion (i.e. it's subjective).

Agencies have such the ability to ruin a family's lives if they lie. They must be held accountable. There are many people out there that (truthfully) say that agencies aren't held accountable enough. However, I would argue that we adoptive parents have even less accountability. This is what I've thought about for the first time today.

If I would have wanted to, I suppose I could have written all sorts of lies about some of my previous experiences. I could have posted on all of the "adoption agency ratings" boards, carefully planning out my attack to make my agency look to be something much different than it was. Everybody eats up a "bad agency" story. And a "bad coordinator story?" Well, that's even juicier. Agency personnel are very rarely allowed on those sites, so families have the ability to write the TRUTH without fear of a lawsuit. This is a good thing. But what happens when the adoptive family doesn't tell the truth?

Nothing.

There's no "bad family" reporting sites out there. There's no way for one agency to report to another when a family has acted in a way that is truly concerning. If an agency stops working with a family for good reason, the family does not have to report that to the next agency. They can go, sign up, and still adopt. I believe this is where we get children into families that truly should not be adding a child through adoption.

But see, now I feel like a bad guy as an adoptive parent. Because adoptive parents are already scrutinized enough, right? I know I've felt that way. I don't need another government agency breathing down my back! Just leave me along with my kids already, right?

The system is flawed. If someone chooses to write absolute lies about me (by name) and puts it out there on the internet, I, as an adoption coordinator have no recourse. There's nothing that can hold that family accountable for their lies. Nothing on earth anyway.

Today, for the first time, I "get" why agencies threaten to sue for slander. As an adoptive parent I read those negative reviews and store them away as truth--or maybe exaggerated truth. I don't tend to question an adoptive parent's experience when written online. Why would someone lie about that sort of thing?

They lie because they are hurt. They are hurt that something didn't work out, and they need some one to blame. They want to hurt someone back. They want someone to pay.

We all (agencies and adoptive parents) have such a huge responsibility to speak truth. In the end there is a certain amount of "honor system." Sometimes I question how much "honor" is left out there...

Anita...who is thankful that my ultimate judge always knows the truth

10 comments:

Heather A. 8:47 PM  

So sorry that you're hurting my friend. Hugs to you and prayers for you tonight.

Have some new forums opened up lately or am I looking in the wrong spot? I know firsthand what an amazing coord. you are and would love to share my own thoughts.

Mama D.'s Dozen 9:12 PM  

Oh so sorry. I know how deeply slander can hurt.

Laurel

Amy 10:04 PM  

Love you Anita. You are an important part of many families. I hope you'll remember some of those wonderful cards you've gotten as "Auntie Anita" and know how loved you are. Terrible that someone would do that and I think you hit the nail on the head- blaming because they're hurt and there is nobody else to target as the bad guy. SO sorry that happened to YOU though, my friend!

Forever yours,
Fabu

Cindy 11:59 PM  

I am so sorry that people are doing that to you :(
This is a great post and I love getting a different perspective on things. Thanks.

Brandi 9:02 AM  

I agree with Heather! Why don't you leave your blog "open" for other authors and we'll all post what we REALLY think and KNOW about you and have EXPERIENCED with and of you! There is no one that I would have rather had assist us in our adoption. We love you!! And THOSE KIDS ALL LOVE THEIR AUNTI ANI! I'm so sorry that your heart is feeling this pain right now. It's unfair.

Cora 11:30 AM  

I don't know you as a coordinator but as an adoptive parent/blogger that has always been honest and open for any questions. I just can't imagine why someone would choose to hurt you with lies, but people still amaze and hurt me.

I think you are amazing and I am so glad to have met you though your blog.

Cora

Renee 1:27 PM  

Oh ((((Anita)))!

I know so well your heart on adoption corruption and ethics in adoption. I remember our first conversation when we talked about our experience at the hands of a corrupt agency and you sharing what you had been through and your heart to make sure things were done the right way in Ghana.

You were such a blessing to us each step of the way. We have had several good adoption coordinators in our adoptions but you were truly a wonderful coordinator and a dear friend.

Venegas Family 1:41 PM  

I would love to know where this is posted so positive comments can outweigh the "slanderous" comments.

FullPlateMom 8:03 AM  

I'm sorry you're going through this. There are enough adoption "professionals" out there ruining people's families that you would think that the good ones would get left alone.

--Becky

In His Dust 9:51 AM  

Love, love, love you lady! So sorry that this has happened. But, know that you are SO loved. You have know idea how much you have meant in our lives. Actually, teared up while writing that! Know that you are wonderful! God bless you for the HUGE difference you have made in all of our kiddos lives! Love you!