May 18, 2011

The Adoption Experience as Marketing Tool

This really fries me.

 
While looking for some articles on a particular adoption topic, a link popped up to a site called Adoption Issues - don't want to link directly, but you'll find it from this: adoptionissuesDOTorg.

 
Hmmm. New group, never heard of them. Looked for an "about" or "contact" page - couldn't find either. Scrolled down the main page a bit and found an unlinked logo that said "An educational website sponsored by CRC Health Group." Looked up CRC Health Group on the web and found that they call themselves the "nation's leading provider of treatment and educational programs for adults and youth who are struggling with behavioral issues, chemical dependency, eating disorders, obesity, pain management, or learning disabilities." Whois also showed that the adoptionissuesDOTorg domain is owned by CRC Health.

 
A web search netted quite a few pages on the CRC Health website referencing their treatment programs for "adoption issues," but these are never described, nor is there any information on the site that would suggest the organization's staff is adoption-competent by the definition of someone living adoption.

 
There is, however, a great big link right at the top of the page for INVESTORS. I'm sure that adoptive parents seeking help for their children will be comforted to know that CRC's investors' interests are cared for by an investment firm with $65 billion in assets.

 
Continuing to peruse adoptionissuesDOTorg, I found a toll-free number posted in several places for "therapeutic boarding schools" to "help adopted teens with identity and self-esteem issues. I called the number, which went to something called the Aspen Education Group, which is a company that runs residential schools for troubled children. Quickly found on the CRC website that Aspen is a division of CRC - I would have known right off the bat if I'd checked out the adoptionissuesDOTorg blog first, since a few posts were authored by "AspenCRC."

 
There are exactly two resources on the adoptionissuesDOTcorg "adoption resources" page:
  • One is to a well-respected 501c3 adoption services provider in the DC area; numerous articles by this organization's staff are reprinted on adoptionissuesDOTorg as well.
  • The other is to something called FamilyIQDOTcom (no pretense with this one), a pyramid-type business that sells family relationship and parenting improvement products.. This company is owned by someone named Mark Hobbins. In addition to founding FamilyIQ, he is Sr VP Chief Marketing Officer at - you guessed it - CRC Health Group. I found one reference to adoption on the FamilyIQ site, a course called "Understanding Adopted Teens." It pulls its title and other references from a book by the executive director of the same well-respected organization I mention above, without citation.
The executive director of the organization being used in this way indicated they had a short-term relationship with this company years ago, but were unaware that their work was being used in this way.

 
Post-adoption support services are desperately needed, no question about that. CRCHealth and Aspen, the actual companies behind adoptionissuesDOTorg, may be perfectly reputable, and their services may have real value to adoptive families. If that's the case, they should the right thing and state their case on their FOR-profit website, not a phony non-profit site. They should also stop riding the coat tails of a reputable non-profit that has been delivering professional adoption-focused services for years.

 
AdoptionissuesDOTorg was carefully crafted to do one thing: drive business to CRCHealth and Aspen Education Group. As such, it preys on unsuspecting adoptive families in need of adoption-focused and adoption-competent professional services. This clever marketing tool may be perfectly legal, but that sure doesn't make it ethical.