March 8, 2011

OAR - Adoption and the Media

It's time for another Open Adoption Roundtable. I love these. It's fascinating to be able to see these issues from so many different sides....adoptive parents, first parents, adoptees, and people not currently involved in adoption, but curious.

As with all of these prompts you don't have to be involved to comment or ask questions. To see more answers, click over to Production, Not Reproduction's site here.

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

The timing of this prompt is so funny. This exact issue has been the topic of conversation in my house over the last week or so. We're always on the lookout for anything (tv, movies, books) that deals positively with adoption. Much of what you see portrayed involves international adoption, so that distances it from our situation and us/our daughter being able to totally relate. I am surprised given the frequency of adoption that it isn't a bigger part of the stories that media tells.

Recently there was a Modern Family episode that had a storyline about adoption, Despicable Me also has an adoption story, but how sad is it that I could only come up with two examples off the top of my head? The reason it's been a topic of discussion lately is because a book store near my office is closing. I want to take advantage of their sales so I started looking for adoption books to read to my daughter. And I was floored at what I found.

Other than the fact that the majority of the books were about international adoption, none of the domestic adoption books I came across dealt with open adoption. That was surprising enough but the sinner/saint mentality in the books made my mouth drop open. I just couldn't believe how negatively birth/first families were represented. Again and again I came across books that were saying the child needed love, needed a family, with the implication that the birth/firsts couldn't provide it. And then hooray, the adoptive parents swooped in and gave the child everything they ever wanted or needed.

With each summary I read, my anger grew. I would never, never, NEVER, read a story like that to my daughter. Other than the fact that it is a completely false scenario in our case, and in so many others, why would you want to demonize a child's family under any scenario? To portray the first family as the villains and the adoptive family as the heroes is so destructive to everyone involved.

My daughter's birth parents are not evil or thoughtless. They are not unwilling or unable to love her. And to present them that way, especially in a children's book, is at a minimum offensive, but more accurately is uneducated, unsympathetic and damaging. Neither should we, as the adoptive parents, be presented as the saviors, the saints, the heroes. It's absurd. We did not save my daughter from anything. We are also nowhere near saints or heroes.

We are simply people who are raising our daughter. One of the things that happens to make her unique is that she has two sets of parents. Two. She has two mothers who worry about her. She has two fathers who want to protect her. She has FOUR parents who love her more than the world and for the media, in any form, to miss that mark over and over again is beyond disappointing.


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