Monday, December 25, 2017

Search Videos: Another Avenue for Searching

The success of a recent search video organized by some Chongqing adoptive families with children from that area highlights some important lessons on how to produce a "viral" video. 

The Chongqing video was uploaded on November 28, and as of this writing has been viewed over 8,400 times on Youku, as well as an unknown number of views on other uploads of the video (several in-country newspapers, TV and other sites have uploaded the video to their sites). A half dozen newspapers and TV stations have broadcast stories about the search. So far, nearly three dozen birth families have come forward, and activity surrounding this search video is still growing. Some of those that have come forward are from other Provinces, such as Anhui Province. One of the video's participants, "Lilly", is being interviewed for a serial print and web feature promoting the search. As the Global Times exclaimed, the video "has gone viral on the Chinese Internet, prompting calls for a rethink of China's welfare system and gender equality."

It is impossible to predict with certainty which videos will be successful, and which ones won't, but several things done by the Chongqing families increased their project's visibility. The Chongqing video contained no Chinese names, no child-specific information at all. The preface of the video states "you may think your child was adopted by a family inside China." The Chongqing video intentionally avoid giving any clues, other than the orphanage of origins, as to which birth parents are being sought.

This is, in my opinion, one of the main reasons why the Chongqing project video garnered so much attention inside China. Rather than focusing on locating the birth parents for specific children, the Chongqing video said, "You are all our parents." The Chongqing video was apparently designed to appeal to everyone. Not only were the children from all parts of the globe, but they represented disparate orphanages within Chongqing itself -- Xiushan, Youyang, Qianjiang, Fuling, etc. This gave it a very broad geographical appeal. Additionally, the children themselves ranged in age from 2 years old to children in their late teens or early twenties, twins, boys, etc.  The project was all-inclusive. It represented, in a literal sense, every child ever relinquished in Chongqing. A viewer in China would be much more inclined to pass on this video because the birth parents being sought could be literally everyone. The Chongqing video, to use a fishing metaphor, is like taking a large net from shore to shore with the design to capture every fish in the river, with the hope that one of those fish is the one sought after.

So, future search videos would do well to learn from this project. A few key takeaways that seem to give a video "legs" are":

1) Rather than focus on locating specific birth parents, make the video to locate every birth parent. The "wide net" model will gain more interest, since it speaks to more people, and thus gets more media attention.

2) Use the video to educate a birth parent that even though they think their child was adopted by someone in a neighboring village, in fact that may not be true. Create a sense of doubt. This is critical to get past the story many, if not most, birth parents were told about the destination of their child after relinquishment. The video must penetrate the significant mental barrier that exists in the mind of many birth parents that the images seen "can't be my child, for she was not adopted internationally." Without accomplishing that goal, the search will fail.

3) Avoid giving specific dates and details that are not known with certainty, as that will only cause potential birth families to not come forward. It must be assumed that the information -- birth dates, finding dates, locations, etc. -- is inaccurate, and thus providing them may cause potential matches from not coming forward since they will feel that the match is not theirs.

4) Try to incorporate something into the video that gets one's attention. The Chongqing project created a very smooth and cute transition technique with the "high fives" that each child did to move the video to the next child. With the disparate ages and physical locals of each child, this was extremely effective. Although separated by time and space, one felt that the kids were actually a unified group.

5) Before launching a search video, do some ground work. Recruit volunteers on the ground and in the area media to promote the video after it is launched. Promote the video to various news outlets. Your goal is to force the video into the public consciousness as soon as it is released.

6) Include as many different children as possible, speaking as many different languages as possible. There is a fine line between too long, too short, and just right. Have friends watch it. Did they remain engaged through the entire video? Was it interesting? Did it make them want to forward it to others? Do some pre-release test marketing to fine-tune the video for maximum impact.

7) Lastly, provide WeChat (preferable) or email contact information at the beginning and end of the video. Many viewers may not watch the entire video, so placing it just at the end of the video risks losing some potential contacts. Do not have the viewer have to go to another website, etc., to get contact information -- most won't cross platforms.

The Chongqing search video, among others, have provided all adoptees and their families with valuable techniques to make a successful search video. If every search video learns from the experience of these groups, more birth families will be successfully located going forward. But the adoption community must recognize as more and more videos are produced that the attention paid to such videos inside China will decrease. Media fatigue may set in, making it harder and harder for future projects to garner the needed attention. Thus, it is important that every project be crafted to produce the greatest success possible.

In the end, a search video should be seen as an absolutely last resort in a search. Other steps can and should be employed prior to publicly announcing a search. But once all of the "discreet" methods have been employed, a search video is a last "hail Mary" option.  The goal then is not to search for a specific birth family, but to search for every birth family.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Research-China.Org Subscription Blog Contents

For families wondering what is available on our subscription blog, here is the current listing. We will be doing a "what is happening in China adoption" soon. 

Subscribe here:

Blog Contents:
“Where Was My Child Found” (Fuling Orphanage Patterns)
What to Tell – And When (Telling your child their history)
“Modern” Dying Rooms (Dianjiang Orphanage)
Why Birth Parent Searches Are Simple (And Why Most Adoptive Families Will Never Succeed With Them)
Police Reports: Why They're Important & Why They Are Not
"The Missing Girls of China" -- David Smolin
Putting the "Quota" Myth to Bed
When Problems Come Home
One-on-One with an Orphanage Director
Creative Searching Techniques by Chinese Birth Families
"Feeling, Reason & the Law of China are Contradictory"
Changing the Birth Dates of Adoptees
Birth Parent Search Results -- LePing, Jiangxi
The Dark Side of China's "Aging Out Orphan Program
Time to Change the Usual "Story"
Selective Abortion in China: A Personal Experience
A Research Project Ride-Along
How & Why an Orphanage Joins the IA Program
The History of China's International Adoption Program (NYU Presentation)
The Wide Cultural Divide
LWB and the Demographics of China Adoption
Open Secret: Cash & Coercion in China's IA Program
Lan's Journal of Life & Research (Part I)
Lan's Journal of Life & Research (Part II)
What an Actual Finding Can Tell Us About Our Own Child's Finding
Covering Adoption Corruption from Inside China
Last Night of an Abandoned Baby Island
Are There Issues with China's SN Program?
Shedding Tears, Real and Fake

Promises, Promises! (Lying to Birth Families)
The CCAA’s Tacit Approval of Trafficking
"Adoption from China is a 'politically sensitive issue'"
"If you don’t pay any money, how will you find any babies?"
Unwinding an Adoption?
Poyang, Jiangxi: China's New "Orphan Program"
The Fuping Scandal and China's Increasing Special Needs Program
The Fuping Scandal & China's IA Program
Baby Trafficking Network: Who Sells Babies That Have Not Yet Been Born? -- Part 1
Baby Trafficking Network: Who Sells Babies That Have Not Yet Been Born? -- Part 2
A "Type and Shadow" the Guixi Orphanage Scandal

The Devil is in the Details (2009 Orphanage Submissions)
A Look at the Provinces I: Chongqing Municipality
A Look at the Provinces II: Jiangxi Province
A Look at the Provinces III: Hunan
A Look at the Provinces IV: Guangxi
A Look at the Provinces V: Guangdong
A Look at the Provinces VI: Jiangsu
A Look at the Provinces VII: Anhui
A Look at the Provinces VIII: Henan

Birth Parent Searching
Why Birth Parent Searches Are Simple (And Why Most Adoptive Families Will Never Succeed With Them)
Birth Parent Search Results -- LePing, Jiangxi
Another Wrinkle in Birth Parent Searching
10 Commandments of Birth Parent Searching
Utilizing Searchers Inside China for Birth Parent Searching 
Searching Birth Parents I
Baby Come Home -- A Valuable Tool for BP Searching?
Is Zuyuan A Viable Option for BP Searching?
Is Taking DNA Out of China Illegal?

Birth Parent Stories
Birth Parent Stories I (Hunan/Jiangxi)
Interview with a Birth Mother of a SN Child
A Birth Father's Very Lucky Message

Hunan Scandal
“Information from Hunan I: Thirteen Case Studies”
II: Changning Orphanage Director Police Interviews
III: Director Chen Ming's Rebuttal of Trafficking Charges
An Interview with the Duan Family Matriarch
The Duan Trafficking Logs
Bringing the Hunan Scandal Into Focus
The Impact of the Hunan Scandal on China's Adoption Program
2003 Hunan Scandal Interview
When the Trouble Began