Priceline’s Distasteful Adoption Commercial Could Have Been My Son’s Story

Update — Tues. Feb 23 — Priceline has since responded to this campaign.

I have a son who didn’t behave exactly like his paperwork said he would.

As we were seated on the orphanage couch five years ago, my husband and I sweat from nerves more than from the heat. After a brief pause, the director entered the room with a too-small boy. This boy was trying to burst past his escort into the room, but he was tight in her grip. She held his hand but failed to calm his excitement.

We nervously watched this energetic, lanky boy as he gave each of us a once-over. He grabbed our hands one at a time; it appeared he was kissing them, but now we know he was actually smelling them. He was processing who we were based on our appearances and our smells.

woman holding boy
Ginger and her son.

Moments later, the active child began making his way around the room, ripping our glasses from our faces. He moved like lightning and broke my bracelet before I even knew he was standing next to me.

His adoption file just mentioned he “had social delays.” He wasn’t as his file had described, but nevertheless, he was our son. On the same day he bit my husband’s arm, stole my dad’s hat and almost broke the only pair of glasses I owned, we signed the paperwork to be his parents. We could not bear the thought of what might happen to him if he were never adopted.

He may not have looked or behaved exactly how we expected, but he was still our son.

During the Super Bowl, the weather was warm for this Midwest winter. My husband and I bundled our now three boys and went for a walk. We’re not sports fans in this house, and our TV antenna stopped working last fall. Had we wanted to watch the big event, even for the commercials, we couldn’t have.

Our lanky boy looked more like a man than a child on that brisk Sunday afternoon walk. He has grown and developed over the past five years. He still has many challenges and ongoing issues. He no longer rips glasses from people’s faces, but he does have some difficulty with his preschool-level school work. He doesn’t require someone to hold his hand as we walk, but he is unable to be left on his own.

man holding boy on shoulders
Ginger’s husband and son.

And he still smells every single person he meets. We now know he has autism, Tourette syndrome and a sensory processing disorder.

As we walked with our children — our precious sons — a commercial made its debut on TV. In the commercial, a couple learns they’ve been approved to travel to Eastern Europe to meet their potential adoptive child. They reserve their plane tickets through Priceline, then travel to and from Europe in a matter of seconds.

The viewer is not shown the European child, but the parents express relief that they were able to meet him; they obviously made the choice not to adopt him.

Then, the commercial goes back in time to show the viewer what might have happened if the couple had not gone on that “introductory trip” — if they hadn’t used Priceline’s services. The child they adopted is actually a grown man.

I’m not easily offended. I have thick skin in most instances.

But I’ve seen actual couples come home empty-handed.

I’ve watched as friends walked through their baby nurseries and mourned the loss of children they barely knew.

I know of couples who have made the difficult decision not to adopt because the child’s needs were much more involved than the paperwork had outlined.

I’ve experienced the heartbreak and I’ve cried the tears. While our child was nothing like his paperwork, we still chose to adopt him. Some families have other children or different life circumstances; they don’t have the same opportunity.

Actual children are being left behind in orphanages because their paperwork doesn’t match up with their needs.

This commercial hits too close to home.

boy smiling
Ginger’s son.

I realize it was made to be funny, but I’m struggling to find the humor.

This could have been my son’s story.

I’d like to ask Priceline to pull this distasteful commercial from their rotation, but I know I am just one voice. My quiet voice won’t change their strategies. My child’s story won’t change their minds.

Maybe if we shout together against Priceline though, those who have been affected by misrepresented paperwork will feel our support as they continue to mourn children they have left behind.

Maybe if we shout together against Priceline, the orphan crisis will return to the forefront of our society’s concerns for a brief moment.

Maybe if we shout together against Priceline, one more family will choose to take the leap into the process of adopting a child. And maybe that family will be able to adopt him despite what his paperwork says.

Maybe if we shout together against Priceline, one more child will gain a family.

Want to join me and shout together against Priceline? Let’s let the company know that we take the orphan crisis seriously. Here’s how:

  • Click here to sign the petition to have the ad removed.
  • Visit Priceline’s Facebook Page and let them know their ad won’t be tolerated by those who love the orphans. Remember to use the hashtag #shouttogether and link this post, asking Priceline to pull the ad.
  • Go to the ad’s YouTube video and give it a “thumbs down.” Leave a comment using the hashtag #shouttogether and link this post, asking Priceline to pull the ad.
  • Adoptive parents, post a photo on Instagram or Twitter of your adopted child. Share the value of their lives, especially now that they have a family. Use the hashtag #shouttogether, link this post, and tag @priceline.
  • Twitter users, tag @priceline and @Darren_Huston (Priceline’s CEO) letting them know you believe the ad should be pulled. Use the hashtag #shouttogether and my post’s shortlink (
  • Click on one of the social media symbols on this page to share this post, using the hashtag #shouttogether. Let your friends and family know about this fight and encourage them to join. The more of us who raise our voices together, the more Priceline will have to take notice.

Alone, I cannot make a difference on behalf of the orphans. With your help though, we can #ShoutTogether until someone takes notice.

A version of this post first appeared on Our Moments Defined. See the original post for more details on how to #ShoutTogether.

The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a moment you were met with extreme negativity or adversity related to your disability and/or disease (or a loved one’s) and why you were proud of your response — or how you wish you could’ve responded. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


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