An article about the Houston-area shooting that left two adults and four children dead this week prompted a reader to wonder why the story drew a distinction between biological and adopted children.

By Sylvia Stead, public editor of The Globe and Mail

An article about the Houston-area shooting that left two adults and four children dead this week prompted a reader to wonder why the story drew a distinction between biological and adopted children.

The article said, “All of the children were theirs, while two were adopted.”

As an adoptive parent, the reader said, “I shuddered when I read this, in particular the ‘while two were adopted.’ ”

The reader said this implies that the couple’s adoptive children are not theirs. “Both my biological child and my adoptive child are my children – in fact, I call them my children without having to label how they joined my family (they know, of course). If it is really necessary to point out that two of the children are adopted, why not write, ‘All of the children were theirs, two were biological while two were adopted’?”

The reader noted that this was an Associated Press article written from Texas and the same wording appeared on other websites. However, the reader asked if The Globe and Mail could not have changed that wording. (Please note: This story has been updated since the original wording.)

The reader is correct that the wording was awkward and insensitive. Of course the children were theirs. But I understand why the reporter wanted to include the information at the time that two of the children were believed to be adopted. Readers were trying to understand why a man, described as a relative, would kill so many people. Some stories referred to the incident as a domestic dispute.

So many questions are still unanswered.

To continue reading this column, please go theglobeandmail.com where it was originally published. 


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Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.