You'd have to be cast in bronze to remain unmoved throughout "Adoption in America" on Channel 26 tonight at 10:30. This absorbing, hour-long special is packed with examples of human drama surrounding the sometimes harsh realities of adoption in the '80s.
The latest in PBS' "Cover Story" series examines the shortage of healthy, white infants (many adoption agencies have five-to-seven-year waiting lists and 15 to 20 applicants per child) and how it has changed dramatically the adoption picture in America.
This scarcity has paved the way for new entrepreneurs: baby brokers who attract pregnant teens to "baby farms" and sell the infants for $10,000 and up. aCouple unwilling or unable to pay these sums have two options: either adopting a child from overseas or one of thousands with "special needs" -- older, minority or handicapped children.
One of the most moving segments profiles a family who adopted two children with Downs Syndrome whom they saw "advertised" in a local newspaper. After the father describes the emotional rewards of raising these children, the scene unsubtly switches to a plea from Laurie Flynn -- an adoptive parent from Alexandria, Va., and head of the North American Council on Adoptable Children -- who explains how to get more information on adoption.
The program depicts both couples who have been able to adopt -- including the first meeting between one couple and their longed-for baby -- and those who have been rejected. A Vietnamese boy talks of his adjustment to his American family and a black teen-ager talks about the pain of living in institutions and foster homes.
But most touching is the tearful reunion betgween a 23-year-old woman and the mother who gave her up for adoption in infancy. "I have a middle and eventually I'll have an end," says the young woman, describing her search for her biological mother. "But I have no beginning. It's important for me to know where I came from."