Movies And Specials: 'Catwalk Kids'

Synopsis: Why do the Americans stage fashion shows where prospective parents can view children available for adoption. And should we try it in Europe?

We travel to Middle America to witness the extraordinarily aggressive way they market children available for adoption. The catwalk shows, photos in shopping malls and weekly TV spots are highly controversial. Critics claim that putting the most vulnerable members of society on display in this way is dangerous and question the motives of adults who appear to be “shopping for a child”. But they work. Children deemed impossible to adopt - teenagers, sibling groups and those with special needs - often find permanent homes thanks to these events.

Studies have shown that young people are much more likely to become homeless, suffer mental illness, and ultimately, end up in the criminal justice system if they do not have a permanent home. With unprecedented access we speak to adoption industry insiders, social workers and parents, as well as children participating in these events – some who have been lucky enough to find families, and others who continue to wait, and wait and wait.

In contrast, in European countries like Spain, thousands of young children grow up in group homes, never finding permanent families. So which system is better? Are the catwalks the lesser of two evils? (Courtesy Java Films, 2011)