Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Adoption Story Stirred Emotions

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Adoption Story Stirred Emotions

Article excerpt

SURPRISINGLY, THE LEADING STORY on last Sunday's front page divided readers sharply into two camps. They loved it or they hated it.

I say "surprisingly" because I don't recall a story that has brought so sharp a division in praise and denunciation - not just over the issues involved, but over its publication.

It was a dramatic mini-saga that has been unfolding over the past eight years. Its headline, in bold letters three quarters of an inch high, read:

Unwed Youth

Fought Years

For His Baby

Then, this sub-headline: "Secret Adoption Cut Him Out."

to several readers, that was pure tabloid journalism - "soap opera stuff." Was that the most important news of the day, a few asked, in disbelief.

One reader, however, called it "the finest story on the front page in years." For another, it "has moved me more than anything I have ever read in the newspaper."

Views from the two ends of the binoculars. Which end is up?

The answer, I think, depends upon your view of what a newspaper should be in this evolving era. If you want traditional, "hard" news with your morning coffee, you'd rather read something more substantial - about Bosnia, the Olympics or Japan, perhaps, atop the front page.

If you want in-depth, magazine-style articles that touch on issues in our daily life, you'll want a newspaper to pursue just such issues as this one. It raised the question of whether adoptions of babies are ever truly final.

Here's the story, briefly: Michael Landy, now 24, has spent years fighting for the right to rear his daughter, born out of wedlock to a girlfriend who gave it up for adoption without telling him.

He has sued "nearly everyone" involved in the adoption "for retribution," including the young mother, her family, their priest and Catholic Charities agencies.

He wants at least $65,000 to cover his expenses, now that he has signed away custody rights to the adoptive parents.

The continuation of this long story filled two inside pages, equaling almost three-quarters of a full page. It brought up such issues as the rights of biological parents in adoptions, young people meeting their responsibilities as parents, adoption procedures, and, indirectly, the question of abortion.

Thorny issues these. Calling King Solomon!

Let's review the response. About 15 readers complained, saying the story was unworthy of publication or was overplayed, considering its placement, significance, length and details.

Some comments: "That sounds like the National Enquirer"; "It was soap-opera-ish, with everybody crying"; "It was all one-sided, like only one side in a divorce." (The mother's family had declined to discuss the case publicly).

"That's not the lead story of the day"; "The Post-Dispatch has lost touch with what's news"; "It wasn't worth the space given to it" and "I've never seen such a long article. …

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