Open Adoption Roundtable #24: Adoption on TV

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. We’re up to Open Adoption Roundtable #24.

For better or worse, open adoption is working its way into mainstream entertainment. Which brings us to our writing prompt:

How have you seen open adoption portrayed on television? What did you think? What, if anything, would you like to see?

Several people have been shocked when I reveal I don’t watch Glee. I majored in Performance Studies. I took a year long class in Musical Theatre Literature and Repertoire. I love a cappella music! But I stopped watching Glee when it became apparent that Quinn’s pregnancy was going to be some whacked out pseudo-adoption story line.

There is only one show I’ve watched that I thought got adoption “right” – Judging Amy. Amy was a juvenile court judge and her mother (Maxine) was a social worker, so adoption was a frequent topic. However, even they got it wrong when the major story line was about adoption. Amy’s older brother, Peter, and his wife, Jillian, are unable to conceive. They go for adoption. They match with a teenage expectant mom… who moves into Maxine & Amy’s house. (WTF?) The next season, the birth mother comes back with the birth father and they want to parent, so they get the baby back. (As all birth parents do, right?) But a few episodes later, they realize they don’t want to parent, and they give the baby to Peter & Jillian.

I watched Adoption Stories, and I always thought they were re-enactments. It wasn’t until Adoption Diaries came on that I realized they weren’t. WE was running Adoption Diaries last week and I recorded them out of morbid curiosity. I can’t see how any expectant parent – adoptive or biological – would allow themselves to be exploited that way. A lot of the Adoption Stories episodes focused on foster adoption and international adoption, which is different, I think, than following a pregnant woman around with a camera for several months.

TV – well, really the entire mainstream media – doesn’t know how to handle adoption, and I’ve never seen open adoption portrayed. One of the Open Adoption Bloggers mentioned that, once the adoption story line was over, it was over. No one ever mentioned it again. Birth parents go on without grieving, adoptees are never seen wondering, adoptive parents don’t have to deal with questions and comments. Open adoption could actually be a great premise for a TV drama. Follow several families who are involved in open adoptions – all fictional characters, but all based on what might actually happen. I guarantee there would be enough drama without having to resort to the stereotypical “she wants him back” story line.

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