For children's sake, bad adoptions need press coverage

Contrary to Adam Pertman's claim in his Nov. 30 Opinion piece, "Improve press coverage of bad adoptions," there is nothing in child welfare that gets more good press than adoption.

Every November we are inundated with gooey feature stories about adoptions - and no one looks too closely at how the adoptions turn out. In contrast, whenever a child is left with birth parents who harm him, the adoptions system is falsely accused of putting "family unification" ahead of "the best interests of the child."

It seems all birth parents are tarred with the same brush, and children are needlessly torn from loving homes, often because family poverty is confused with neglect. No wonder a record 304,000 children were taken away in 2004.

There are some children for whom adoption is, literally, a lifesaver, and many adoptive parents are heroes. But Mr. Pertman and his allies ignore legitimate questions, such as: How many more children are rushed into slipshod placements that are abusive now that the federal government subsidizes some of these placements? How many children become legal orphans as states terminate parental rights even when there is no adoptive family? And how many adopted children really needed to be torn from everyone they knew and loved in the first place?

I'll trade the press's portrayal of impoverished birth parents caught in the child welfare net for its portrayal of adoption any day.
Richard Wexler
Executive Director, National Coalition for Child Protection Reform
Alexandria, Va.

Saudi women should be able to drive

Regarding the Dec. 7 article, "Saudi women recall a day of driving": All Arab women should have the freedom to drive. Saudi women should be allowed to make that choice. They are as capable, intelligent, and reasonable as any individuals.

Women who are taught to work hard, to achieve, and to earn higher degrees, have the right and responsibility to drive if they so wish. These women are taught to administer homes, schools, systems of education, and medical operations. They use electronic equipment with mastery. Why not cars?

Why the fear of Saudi women driving? Women are taught morality, in religious courses and through family upbringing. They can learn self-defense. And they can be dressed in Islamic garments while driving.

So why the denial? I personally know some members of the group of women drivers. I have respect for them and for their family members who supported them. This issue has made me more sensitive to the needs of Arab women in general.

After the Saudi women drove, I taught our girls to take responsibility for protecting their rights. I don't drive by choice, but my mother drove, and other women family members drive. My respects to the women drivers who have been outstanding leaders.
Hala J. Hammad
Amman, Jordan

Entertainment needs redeeming value

I wish to applaud Carla Seaquist's Dec. 7 Opinion piece, "Harold Pinter's pen betrays his normalcy." It concerns me greatly that a lot of our entertainment, particularly in film and television, is that of menace, and that it is too often without redemption. I think redemption is always present, if sought. Surely in a world so stressed by menace, seeking redemption is active in all people.

Thank you, Ms. Seaquist, for your clarity, and for addressing this apparent vacuum of morality. You are helping in the redemption. I write as one of those unseen "antagonists."
Lesley Mascall
Mona Vale, Australia

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