Profile: Robin Sindler

Robin Sindler, Producer, TODAY and NBC News

In keeping with our mission to enhance the lives of everyone touched by adoption, we will feature profiles of individuals, organizations, and companies who have made a significant difference in the adoption community.

We are excited to have Robin Sindler, Supervising Producer of Today’s Adoption Week series which aired last November during National Adoption Awareness Month. Using NBC’s global reach, the series provided valuable insight into many dimensions of the adoption and foster care experience, while also touching members of the community with poignant stories reflecting many of our own personal journeys.

1. How long have you been in TV production and at NBC?

Fourteen years.

2. What do you love most about your job?

The ability to pick up the phone and speak to almost anyone I find intriguing.

When most people hear about someone or something that piques their interest, they may take note or discuss it with friends. But as a producer for Today I get to pick up the phone and meet the guy on the other end to help tell their story. For me what’s most rewarding isn’t the breaking news or the celebrities, it’s the lesser known folks who are quietly doing incredible things.

3. How do you determine what segments get produced?

90% of the time I pitch stories or series that I’m interested in covering. I’m fortunate that my bosses understand the more passionate I am about a subject, the better the story.

4. What was the motivation for last November’s adoption series?

This was an assignment from above. I was told to come up with something big for adoption month. Those are the best kind of assignments because I can then take the series in any direction.

5. It was such a comprehensive series, was it easy to find stories or did you have to search for people to interview?

A few years after I began working at Today I read an account of a family who had adopted a child from South Korea and went back to meet their daughter’s birthmother.  I soon learned about homeland tours and these incredibly powerful meetings.

The story was so riveting that I immediately told my executive producer we needed to follow another family on this once in a lifetime trip. After about four years of pitching the same story over and over again, I finally got the green light. I joined several families on their journeys to South Korea and followed along as one teenager struggled to understand where he came from and where he belonged. The story had so many twists and turns that it grew into an hour for Dateline.

On his way home, the young man volunteered to transport a baby who was going to be adopted by new parents in the states (this delivery practice no longer happens). I was privileged to witness this incredible gotcha day and it’s a moment I will never forget.

When I was given the adoption series this time around, I wanted to give viewers the full picture of adoption and allow them to experience an amazing moment like the one I had seen so many years before: that magical instant when adoptive parents set eyes on their new child.

We called dozens of agencies and attorneys and most of them told us it would never happen, the timing wouldn’t work, or that we would be exploiting their families. They wouldn’t help. One attorney saw it as a chance to spotlight the birth of a new family. She said she had the perfect candidates, a wonderful couple from Holland who wanted the American birth mother of their future child and all potential birth mothers struggling with this decision to know their babies would be safe and happy.

It was their way of saying thanks and it was a true gift to anyone watching.

6. Do you have a personal connection to adoption?

Only through friends and the stories I have covered. I have visited orphanages around the world for various segments. I’ve had to say goodbye to disappointed children who held my hand for the entire visit just hoping I might consider taking them with me.   I have watched close friends complete their families through domestic adoption. I’ve seen enough to know we should make the process as safe and hopeful as it can be for both sides.

7.  What did you learn while working on the series?

I never realized how kids in foster care are so desperate to find loving families that they will make videos telling any potential family why they are worthy of being loved. I found a link to some of these videos on the internet with only a few views.  That seemed so wrong to me. I worked with the filmmaker who put some of those videos together to create a Public Service Announcement we could air on our show. At least Today viewers would hear directly from the kids out there who are looking for loving homes. One thing I could do was give these kids a better chance at being heard.

Thanks to Robin for sharing her story! Be sure to check out a new adoption spotlight profile in our next Newsletter.