Adoption: As Seen On TV

Family Watching Television

Adoption is portrayed in a variety of ways on television and in movies, but most of the time, the depiction of adoption is outrageous or even offensive. In the past we've seen a teenage birthmom in Glee change her image and attempts to reclaim custody of a child she placed for adoption and a couple in Parenthood, waiting to adopt, hopefully asks the coffee girl if they can "buy her baby." And there will be more damaging comments in more shows to come -- Hollywood loves drama!

These inaccurate portrayals throughout pop culture can not only be maddening, but can really skew your child's understanding of their own adoption. So how should you handle them?

While you can choose to write letters to the networks responsible for these shows or sign petitions, the most important place for you to act is in your own home. These television shows can be good frameworks for discussion. Whether your child asks you about it or not, they are likely to have questions about their adoption story, their birth family and their birth country.

  • Talking about the TV families is a good way to open a discussion on a topic your child may be struggling with. "Wow, people really don't understand how adoption works, do they?" when confronted with one of the bizarre television scenarios is a great way to start a dialog with your child that may answer his pressing questions.
  • How you address the topic of birthparents in the context of these shows depends on your child's particular situation and their level of development. To combat the notion of birthmoms on television tossing their children away, you must remind your child that this was certainly not the case for them. She made a difficult, loving decision and a plan so that he or she could be taken care of in the best way possible.
  • For the legal absurdities that take place on television shows, simply explain that there are rules in adoption and that people cannot break those rules, even if the TV says they can. If your child is older, you can explain the legal side of an adoption if you feel it's necessary.

Many times being an adoptive parent also means you are an educator. You may have an opportunity within your community opportunity to be an adoption advocate. With TV shows purveying these skewed perceptions of adoption, your responsibility to counter these myths and misperceptions grows. You can utilize these misguided storylines to further educate those around you, and provide them with a real-life example of what adoption actually looks like.

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Discussion, advice and a few of our favorite experts. All for families formed through adoption.