Filmmaker Nathalie Gross, right, interviews Cathy Balliet of Diakon Adoption & Foster Care.

Filmmaker Nathalie Gross, right, interviews Cathy Balliet of Diakon Adoption & Foster Care.

Adoption gains international attention

The email from the French television producer was not the first I’ve received from an international news source. A few years back, a Japanese crew filming a documentary about the Appalachian Trail contacted me about videotaping youths from our Diakon Wilderness Center using the trail for therapeutic reasons.

The request this time related to adoption. “I’m writing to you because we are planning to produce a report about the issue of re-adoption (or re-homing),” wrote Yves Schaeffner, a journalist for Canal Plus Television in France (which a friend born in France told me is sort of the equivalent of HBO here).

“The starting point of our report,” Schaeffner continued, “ is a recent investigation by Reuters [in Europe], but we would like to show that certain groups and organizations like yours are trying to prepare parents who want to adopt children to make sure that the adoption goes well.”

“I’m writing to you because we are planning to produce a report about the issue of re-adoption (or re-homing),”

As a former journalist myself, I was hooked. Arrangements were soon made for a French journalist to film an adoption-parent training program being held at The Lutheran Home at Topton, where an office of Diakon Adoption & Foster Care is located—as well as a “fashion show” matching event that afternoon during which older youths available for adoption and prospective families might meet.

The matching event intrigued the journalists as did adoption staff members’ experience in re-placing children following an adoption disruption.

And so I headed for Topton one Saturday morning this fall to meet Nathalie Gros, a journalist with the French television production company CAPA TV. It soon became apparent all I needed to do that day (beyond gathering information and taking photographs for use by Diakon communications) was point her in the right direction and indicate with whom she might speak—and then get out of her way. Obviously, she was not new at this.

Adoption Group

While I watched her film the prospective adoptive and foster parents, I listened to the session. In my 35 years with this organization, I had never attended a parent-training session—and I have to say I was very impressed.

I photographed Nathalie interviewing Cathy Balliet—covered every aspect of adoption and foster care imaginable, detailing often-wonderful outcomes

The trainers—I photographed Nathalie interviewing Cathy Balliet—covered every aspect of adoption and foster care imaginable, detailing often-wonderful outcomes but also describing the occasional issues that can arise (particularly in foster-to-adopt) with wisdom, compassion, and the humor born of experience. Every question was answered readily and straightforwardly. You could readily see trust and bonds growing.

I left for home following the fashion show. Nathalie still had two people to interview, but I knew by then all would go well. I recently heard from Nathalie that the show had aired and you can see a still image of the program (showing the fashion show on the campus of The Lutheran Home at Topton) on the Canal Plus website, but viewing the actual video is not allowed in the U.S.

We’ve reached out to Nathalie to check on getting a DVD of the program.

Anyone speak French?

By William Swanger
Senior Vice President
Corporate Communications & Public Relations

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