Archive for the ‘celebrities’ Tag

Adoption Experience

Britain's Forgotten Children

Britain's Forgotten Children

Yesterday afternoon saw the launch of my latest project – Adoption Experience www.channel4.com/adopt – this is the thinking behind it:

“Adoption is an area of childcare and family life shrouded in misconception, myth and confusion. The best way to untangle the realities from the rumours and hearsay is to focus on real people’s real experiences.

Adoption Experience shares valuable first-hand experience of Adoption from every perspective – people who have been adopted, adopters, social workers, siblings, people left in the system, potential adopters, every viewpoint that helps give insight into the realities of Adoption.”

Now those of you familiar with the peripatetic, seemingly random wanderings of my oeuvre will notice distinct similarities between Adoption Experience and Sexperience. Here was the thinking behind Sexperience:

Sexperience enables people to share their first-hand experiences (as opposed to opinion or theory) of a broad range of sexual issues, problems and solutions in video and text form, thereby recognising the complexity and individuality of the subject through multiple perspectives and transcending the easy, often over-simplified answers of self-help manuals.”

When it came to the subject of Adoption, it struck me that the same grounded insight brought by a focus on direct experience to the realm of sex and relationships might really help to shed light through the fog of preconceptions obscuring my understanding of this other subject. For me what first sprung to mind was a nightmarish, intrusive process; social workers telling you you have too many books in your house or are too pale for your own good; a recent tale of an adoption imploding and tearing apart the family and marriage of my friend’s sister; compelling tales of retracing birth families; happy sorties filming childcare projects with Emerald Productions and ArkAngel Productions for Barnardo’s; various celebrity stories headed up by Mia Farrow (recently on hunger strike over Dafur – good on her), Angelina Jolie and Madonna; and a few lovely, sometimes quiet kids at my sons’ schools. So what I decided to do was to lift the infrastructure of Sexperience wholesale and reapply it to the subject of Adoption.

The production company/digital indie, Mint Digital, said it would probably work but they’ll be a 5% difference in the structures. I stuck to my guns that it could work as a pretty much 1-to-1 match and that’s what we went with. So, in effect, it’s my first attempt at an online format. (Another class implementation by Mint in the wake of Sexperience and Osama Loves. Video content by Betty TV. Reminds me, Sexperience has just been nominated for a Broadcast Digital Award [Best use of Interactive] and the Osama Loves documentary, Osama Bin Everywhere, is up for a Rockie Award at the Banff TV Awards in Canada.)

Now Sex is of universal relevance whereas Adoption is something of a niche concern, so I wasn’t sure what kind of take-up to expect. The signs so far are good and I feel like we’ve found our clear blue water. There’s little out there on the Web which captures first-hand experience of Adoption issues in a non-textual, engaging form. The first two hours, from a standing start, saw:

  • 29,448 pageviews
  • 5,578 visits
  • 5.3 pageviews/visit (promising since the user-created content which drives the creative concept was very limited, starting empty that very afternoon)
  • 170 experiences and questions were posted by viewers, many very illuminating and detailed

This came in unsolicited from a recent adopter today: “I think the site’s great – fantastic that it’s open to the public to post questions and responses about their experiences. This is what the adoptive and adopted audiences really need I think!”

The site was created out of the Channel 4 Cross-platform dept. as part of the Channel’s Britain’s Forgotten Children season broadcasting all this week. It springs from the themes of the documentary series Find Me a Family, commissioned by my equally mad-haired colleague Dominique Walker. This is the striking trail created by Brett Foraker of 4Creative to communicate the thrust of the season.

Adoption and celebs

Jane Fonda (adopter)

Jane Fonda (adopter)

I’m a little way into a web project about Adoption and during the research phase I needed to put together a list of famousfolk who were adopted , have adopted or have anything to do with the adoption of children. I called on my new media colleagues at Channel 4 to help compile the list and within an hour we had a pretty substantial roster, with dribs and drabs flowing into the pool of collective knowledge for the next day or two. As the information doesn’t seem to exist comprehensively on the Web I thought I’d publish it here for the future use of whoever may need it for whatever reason. But they can put it in alphabetical order themselves 😉

Ewan McGregor (adopter)
Michael Winterbottom (adopter)
Kate Adie (adopter)
Kirsty Alley (adopter)
Mia Farrow & Woody Allen (adopters)
Jamie Leigh Curtis (adopter)
Emma Thompson (adopter)
Hugh Jackman  (adopter)
Steven Spielberg  (adopter)
Sheryl Crow  (adopter)
Nicole Ritchie (adopted)
Ian Wright (adopter) and Shaun Wright-Phillips (adopted)
Jamie Foxx (adopted)
Julie Andrews (adopter)
Pete Turner from Elbow
Oona King (adopter)
Michelle Pfeiffer
Fatima Whitbread
Buffy Sainte-Marie
Debbie Harry
D.M.C.
Jesse Jackson
Lee Majors
Nelson Mandela
President Gerald Ford
President Bill Clinton
Priscilla Presley
Ray Liotta
Steve Jobs
David Crosby (birth parent)
Joni Mitchell (birth parent)
Roseanne Barr (birth parent)
Billy Bob Thornton (adopter)
Brooke Adams (adopter)
Burt Reynolds (adopter)
Calista Flockhart (adopter)
Charles Bronson (adopter)
Diane Keaton (adopter)
Dianne Wiest (adopter)
George Lucas (adopter)
Isabella Rossellini (adopter)
Jane Fonda (adopter)
Kate Capshaw (adopter)
Kris Kristofferson (adopter)
Mercedes Ruehl (adopter)
Michelle Pfeiffer (adopter)
Stephen Spielberg (adopter)
Ted Danson (adopter)
Roman Abramovich
Rhona Cameron
Ice-T
Wendy James
Derek Jameson
Willie Nelson
Robert Newman
David J.Pelzer
Vanessa-Mae
Mordechai Vanunu
Ruth Westheimer
Samantha Morton
Sharon & Ozzy Osbourne
Clare Grogan (adopter)
Bruce Oldfield (?)
Anna Ryder Richardson (adopter and adoptee)
Chris Colquhoun
Toby Anstis (adopted)
Madonna (adopter)
Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt (adopters)
Nicky Campbell (adopted)
Dawn French & Lenny Henry (adopters)
Callista Flockart (adopters)
Sinitta (adopter)
Lynda LaPlante (adopter)
One of the Milliband bros (adopter)
Sharon Stone (adopter)
Meg Ryan (adopter)
Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman (adopters)

Feel free to add more via Comments for completeness and the greater good.

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