Friday night I happened to catch the opening scenes of a cop show called Flashpoint...and saw that the cops with big guns and even bigger cars (wearing bullet proof vests, no less) were chasing a young couple with a baby. The young woman was cradling the baby, the young man was calling him Owen...and I thought, "It's a story about a young couple who stole their baby back from the very nice adoptive parents. Shoot 'em!"
Right. Baby was two months old, they had missed the cutoff date for changing your mind by a couple of weeks...story ends with the biological father's suicide (just like his daddy, after his mother died, and he was raised in unhappy foster homes) and the happy rich adoptive couple (father says he is a lawyer, natch, their house is very big) ends up back with the baby, the natural mother presumably in the hands of the police. Could we fast forward to twenty years?
Next day, I heard an NPR story ostensibly about judging a book by its cover, but turned out to be an interview with a young woman (well, she was 27) in Seattle who was choosing among the piles of letters she had received from couples and women who wanted to adopt her forthcoming baby. Her fiance died, she got pregnant after a short fling with but did not want to marry him or otherwise have him in her life...so, adoption story number two. Could we fast forward fifteen years?
I hit a trifecta: The next day I got an email about a new series on WE starting this fall called Adoption Diaries...press release here: http://www.thefutoncritic.com/
And there is another show on one of the cable channels called: Pregnant at Sixteen, with the adoption-themed segment (done in conjunction with the adoption-as-the-best-outcome-for single-women Mormons). This is the show that several of us active in adoption reform were contacted for when it was being made. I could not bear to watch. There is only so much I will put up with, and this looks mawkish beyond belief.
WE is also where the channel where we watch (usually by DVD) The Locator (see our previous post here) where searcher Troy Dunn finds people who have been separated, often by adoption, season three starting in September. On a recent show that reunited two brothers, the birth mother had refused to meet her first son, but his younger brother decided to initiate the search and reconnect, even without her blessing. Dunn said that this was also the case with his mother, who had been adopted at birth. Troy found her mother, but the woman refused to meet her; some time later, she was contacted (and warmly accepted) by a brother.
And apparently The English American by adoptee Alison Larkin has been picked up and will be a sitcom sometime in the future. Ought to be a million laughs, with a nutty irresponsible birth mother and proper English adoptive mother. Oy vey, I can feel the laughter burbling up.
Then of course, we have the adoption story line on Brothers and Sisters and the numerous times it shows up on Law & Order, all three varieties; and many a medical show where medical histories are missing, such as House. Apparently the world can't get enough of adoption stories.
Let us not forget the brouhaha over the movie Orphan.
It includes the line (I'm paraphrasing here so don't kill me if I have it few words off): It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as one as your own. It seems that a whole lot of people are screaming that Orphan will set back adoption, and mark adoptees as crazy killers, and there has been a petition, and a lot of media attention. Here is a snippet from pressofatlanticcity.com:
Among those signing [the anti-Orphan petition] was Jedd Medefind of the Christian Alliance for Orphans. His group has launched a Web site - OrphansDeserveBetter.org - featuring a petition urging Warner Bros. to add a pro-adoption message at the end of the film and to donate a portion of box-office receipts to aid orphans.
Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, suggested Warner Bros. could improve matters by helping produce educational materials about the value of adoption.
"It has been a long time since a movie caused this much angst and worry in the adoption, foster-care and orphan-care communities, even before its release," Pertman said.
Obviously, the way we were portrayed as a group in Juno caused not so much angst and worry, because--hey, we're not good people anyway. We are the sluts who give away our babies.
Where were these people when Juno was such a hit? Where was the anti-Juno sentiment when we were subjected to a movie that portrayed birth mothers as a hip-talking teenagers who barely gave a fig that they were about to give up their babies to cool white women in swell houses? Why are adoptive parents typically portrayed as good, worthy people who of course deserve to have that baby at the center of the plot because obviously, they will give him or her a much better life than the first mother ever could? This of course was the subset theme of the long-running Baby Jessica De Boer/Anna Schmidt real life story. And twenty years later, Juno.
Everyone loved Juno (see earlier post), it ended up with an damn Oscar for best screenplay, adding insult to injury.
Where was the objection when Juno was released? Was it our fault that we didn't raise the objection ourselves, get a petition going, write to the movie maker and storm hip stripper-turned screenwriter Diablo Cody's house? Uh, well, yes.
But we first mothers are not an active lobby group, many of us are still hiding in the closet, and we don't have an active lobby of adoptive parents (and they are organized) to stand up for us. We are just the women who gave them our children, and a whole lot of those parents want us off the stage.
Besides, lots of people still want to think that we are Juno's sisters. Dammit, I'm not.