I know I’m not the only one who notices how adoption seems to be a favorite topic of Hollywood writers. Just this week, I spotted these gems:
Today’s (10/30) NY Times has an article about the season premiere (tonight, 9:30 Eastern) of 30 Rock, starring Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin:
Liz, still single, wants to adopt a baby. At the opening of the first episode, she is sauntering down the street to NBC headquarters in Rockefeller Center in a flowery skirt, to “Sex and the City”-style music, dressed up to impress the stern adoption agency inspector, played by Megan Mullally.
Tuesday night, I happened to catch the opening minutes of House, the wildly popular Fox show starring Hugh Laurie. I’ve never watched, but thought I’d give it a try. NOT. House is interrogating his single female colleague with comments such as, "You're smiling, does that mean you have a baby?…Considering you’re at the bottom most desirable list, just behind gay couples...and then I heard the words "crack whore birthmother" and I just said "oh no, no, no, no, we don't need to hear that," and I turned the TV off and got lost in my book. A couple of weeks ago there was another House plot line where an adopted Chinese woman was being treated for straight pins that were imbedded in her brain by her birthparents, who wanted her dead so they could try for a boy during China's one child per family policy (there's also a failed reunion but that's all I recall). Remember the Friends plot line when Chandler and Monica were trying to adopt a baby? I was so upset I joined many viewers, including CUB (Concerned United Birthparents) members, in an e-mail blitz begging them to not go there…it didn’t help.
I’ve been thinking about this all afternoon, how sensitive I am about the proliferation of adoption stories on TV. While it hardly compares, I feel empathy with a Holocaust survivor when they see a Law & Order or CSI episode where a murder victim was a concentration camp survivor; I just don’t need to be reminded. I know most television programming is designed to entertain, not necessarily inform (though it happens occasionally), and can’t possibly capture the emotional impact of adoption on the birthparent[s] and child. Of course, the adoptive parents are usually the only ones smiling.
Several years ago I attended a program for adoption professionals at St. John’s University in Queens, New York. One of the seminars featured a panel of adult adoptees talking about their experiences; one of the panel members was a man well into his golden years who met his family of origin rather late in life. By the end of his speech, he was in tears. I sought him out during a break just to give him a hug, and he told me it doesn’t matter how old one is, “you never get over it [the impact of adoption].”
I know this is just the prelude to thirty days of shiny happy people celebrating the joys of adoption—November is National Adoption Month…just in time for the holidays! (Readers may recall my older blog entry where I stated my daughter’s adoptive parents sent an engraved announcement that Santa had delivered a very special gift that year. While it's a charming sentiment, when my daughter shared it with me, in my mind I was screaming, Santa?! No! A broken-hearted 19 year-old gave her to you!). I know times have changed dramatically for the better since the dark ages of closed adoption, but whenever I see “adoption lite” depicted on TV and in film, it’s an ouch. Like that dear man said to me long ago, you never get over it.
How I wish I could.