Parenthood Continues to Screw Up Adoption

I’m not entirely sure why I continue to watch Parenthood. Oh wait, I do know – Mae Whitman, Lauren Graham, and Peter Krause, in that order. I think that, of the 5 sets of parents on the show, only 2 are any good at actually parenting. Yet, I watch anyway.

If you do not watch Parenthood, you may not recall that Joel & Julia adopted a child at the end of the last episode of last season. The boy, whose name is Victor, is age 9 and Latino. His mother is in jail and chose to terminate her own rights rather than have him placed “in the system.”

Since then, Joel & Julia have done almost everything wrong. I don’t even know where to start. I think I’ll start with the most heinous error and go from there.

First, it seems that Victor doesn’t understand his own situation. He isn’t in therapy. He doesn’t seem to know that his mother is in jail. It’s unclear if J&J have ever sat him down to tell him that they’re adopting him.

Second, J&J don’t seem to have any post-placement support. They’re left to navigate older child adoption on their own.

Third, the social worker seems to be an idiot. When Julia calls the social worker to see if she thinks it would be OK for Victor to have a playdate with an old friend, the social worker says no. I can’t imagine that a social worker would say such a thing. Connections to the child’s past are generally seen as a good thing, unless those connections are dangerous. When the social worker appears at J&J’s house (long story) she says that J&J are “doing everything right.” If by “everything” she means, “almost nothing” then that’s true.

Fourth, when Victor asks to show his good math test score to his “real mom”, Julia totally deflects the question. Later, she and Joel tell Victor that, because they’re adopting him, they’re his parents now. Victor asks why he can’t talk to his “real mom” and he is not given a satisfactory answer. J&J mention something about “substance abuse” but it doesn’t make sense to cut off all contact if bio mom is not a direct threat to Victor’s safety.

Fifth, apparently no one has told Sydney (J&J’s first, yet younger, daughter) much about Victor specifically or adoption in general. Sydney taunts Victor, saying that the other kids at school say that his mom is in jail. Victor says she isn’t. Sydney is completely confused by being a younger sibling too.

Which brings me to my sixth point – J&J have different rules for Victor and Sydney. Victor is allowed to watch TV and eat at the same time. He’s allowed to decide what he’s going to eat. Sydney can do neither of these things. If J&J mean for Victor to be their son, then he needs to abide by the same rules. They can’t treat him like a guest.

It seems that J&J just decided that Victor would come into their home and be their son. Cue the happily ever after. I’m sure that some adoptive parents do think this way, and that they also receive a rude awakening. However, especially in a domestic adoption situation that involves an agency, the entire family should be receiving counseling and post-placement support. Furthermore, if the agency had done their job in the first place, and required J&J to update their home study and receive more education about older child adoption, then J&J probably wouldn’t be floundering as badly as they are.

I find the entire premise that J&J would consider older child adoption hard to swallow anyway. With the amount of control that Julia usually needs over any situation? With how much she bonded with the baby of the woman she barely knew at the end of the previous season? Julia wanted a baby. The switch to older child adoption was too sudden.

There are spoilers from here on out, so if you do watch the show and you’re not up-to-date, don’t read any further.

Spoiler space…


I am pleased that the word “adoption” was mentioned when Drew and his girlfriend found out that she was pregnant. I am not happy, however, that Amy chose to abort the baby in the same episode, without any real explanation or discussion. All we got from her was, “If I have this baby, my life is over.” So she had an abortion, despite the fact that Drew didn’t want her to have one, and, as far as we know, she didn’t tell or talk to anyone about all of the options available. If she had still chosen to have an abortion after that, fine. It was the swiftness of the event that bothered me. (By the way, am I the only one who thought that maybe the baby wasn’t Drew’s?)

Finally, this has nothing to do with adoption… Max’s transition to puberty is going to be interesting, I think. I like the kid who plays him. However, I think Kristina is an actively horrible parent, and Adam a somewhat less than competent one. So, anyway, Max says, “the Internet says I will start to see girls in a ‘new and exciting way’ … but that’s not going to happen to me.” Adam says it will. I was sitting there thinking, you know, Max might be gay. What a heterosexist viewpoint. (I don’t think the writers are going to make Max gay, but really, do all parents just assume their kids are straight? Shouldn’t there be a little something in the puberty talk about feelings for members of the same sex?)

I’d love to hear what other people think about the Parenthood story lines. Comments are most welcome!


10 thoughts on “Parenthood Continues to Screw Up Adoption

  1. I had issues with the whole premise of Parenthood to begin with, so I’ve never seen an episode. And with your description, I’m glad I haven’t. I guess they’re building up to make the adopted kid the one that goes crazy when their ratings drop?

    • I liked the original movie from the 90s, and I like Ron Howard, and Whitman, Graham, and Krause. I can only imagine that, because it’s Parenthood, there will be a completely over-the-top unrealistic tied-up-with-a-pretty-bow ending to this story line.

  2. I know I’m in the minority of people because I’ve never watched an episode of Parenthood and have no idea about who any of the people are BUT I do know a lot about the Victor storyline. A few moms have actually started a petition to the producers of the show to have them keep it realistic (in that it would be very unrealistic for everything to just be all fine and dandy as soon as the adoption is finalized) in order to portray older child adoption more realistically. Even though I don’t watch the show, one positive thing is that it has people talking about, debating, considering older child adoption and that is a good thing. I hope they do justice to the storyline and don’t just stick a Hollywood ending on it.

    Thanks for linking to Adoption Blog Hop!

    • Thank you for commenting! It seems like TV really can’t do adoption justice. I think J&J adopting Victor in the first place was unrealistic, and since then, things have only gotten worse. I haven’t seen the last two episodes of the season yet, so we’ll see how they do.

  3. I stopped watching the show this season, then started to catch up slowly on Hulu. Ugh, they annoy me so much! I completely agree with your assessment of the Victor issue. The writers do not seem to have a grasp of what really happens during a foster-to-adopt situation. Or adoption in general.

  4. Pingback: The Movies and Adoption | The Chittister Family

  5. I’m well aware this post is almost four years old, but I’m watching Parenthood on Netflix (again) right now and found your post after needing SOMEONE to vent to on this topic. The thing that might anger me the most? Practically forcing Victor to identify Joel and Julia as “Mom” and “Dad”. Seriously? That started maybe a week after he started living with them. Maybe someone should have sat Julia down and asked her how she would have felt growing up (or as an adult, with that dysfunctional family) to be taken from the only family she knows and told this is her new family, deal with it.
    I’m a huge adoption supporter. But these things take time, and Julia is prioritizing her own feelings over Victor’s, something an adoptive parent should be prepared NOT to do.
    As I’m watching while I’m typing, Julia just said “he doesn’t love me.” Of course he doesn’t, you barely know him.
    Like I said, four years too late, sorry for this rant, sometimes I don’t even know why I watch this show, just needed to get this out.
    Poor Victor. I feel so bad for him.

    • It’s never too late to release universal truths. The earth revolves around the sun. The adoption storyline on Parenthood was terrible. Thanks for commenting!

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