Monday, May 16, 2011

Abandonment issues in adoption on America's Next Top Model

Lorraine
America's Next Top Model is not the place where you would expect adoption issues to be discussed but this season features Molly, a young woman Tyra Banks told repeatedly that her mean, sourpuss demeanor when the camera wasn't on her would lose her bookings--even though she took totally fab pictures. Molly is one of the two finalists, the winner to be revealed on Wednesday.

Then, a few weeks ago in her talk-to-the-camera segment the 22-year-old from Charleston, South Carolina, comes out with:
"I think I have a couple of places where the anger comes from. I've had a lot of sadness, a lot of hurt. You know I think being adopted gave me some issues, you know, abandonment issues
--so that's why I'm mad all the time. Obviously I have to act like a wholly different person and be fake. But that's what I have to do. I think that's bleep but that's what I have to do. Apparently I look like I want to kill everyone."
America's Next Top Model Pictured: Molly Cycle 16 Photo: Troy Jensen/Pottle Productions ©2011 Pottle Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Molly
I hit rewind and took notes. She mentioned adoption again the following week, and again in the let's-just-talk session when Tyra dropped by their apartment in Morocco, where they were taping the last couple of shows. Tyra asked the girls what they talked about on their "emotion day," referring to a show earlier in the season that I missed. It showed Molly in front of a drawing with a lot of frantic lines she had just done. She says of what she talked about on emotion day:
"...My adoption and feeling not wanted. You need to stop thinking you're unwanted just because your mother gave you away. And also about my adoptive parents loving me and just what I put them through--the drugs, the staying out, and not listening to them. But my adoptive parents showed me unconditional love and they are the best people I've ever known."
A picture of Molly and her parents came on on the screen. Tyra briefly talked about abandonment issues and how that can lead people to sabotage relationships--you leave before the other person can in order not to be left again.

The Dark Side of AdoptionMolly managed to encapsulate so much of what adoption can do to a person: instill a fear of connecting, for fear of being rejected (all over again); a sense of being abandoned; a need to act out to test her adoptive parents, and feeling intense gratitude to them for standing by her. I wondered where Molly's first/birth mother is today, and considered the possibility of her watching ANTM--but who knew? South Carolina, where Molly is from, does not let adoptees access their original birth certificates. (Of course, we don't know where Molly was born or adopted; but only in one of six states could she without restriction get her original birth certificate.)

I thought of the Adoption Option put forth by the liberal think tank, Center for American  Progress, and wondered if the writer, Jessica Arons, had ever heard straight talk about adoption like that from anyone adopted. I know the kind of people who write idiotic, specious documents like the Adoption Option*--well educated women who embody the pervasive attitude in society that adoption is only a good, without trailing problems, without a dark side. They tend to see adoption as a blessing, only a "blessing." To us, it is the best solution to a bad situation that cannot be otherwise fixed, as we note in What We Think About Adoption on the sidebar. Whatever solution it is to mothers who give up their babies, their babies do not get off scott free.

On blogs following the show Molly is not the fave to win, but this gramma--quite possibly the oldest living fan of the show--is rooting for her. The finale is Wednesday night on the CW, that's 9 p.m.  on the East Coast. I've been tuning in every since my granddaughter, Kim, said she liked it a few years ago. It's about much more than fashion and the modeling biz; it's about young women, many from troubled backgrounds, a few from privileged families and with Ivy League degrees, baring their souls as they make their way in a tough career using their bodies, and yes, their brains.--lorraine
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*See our Response to The Adoption Option of the Center for American Progress

 

Update

Molly, the adoptee, did not win America's Next Top Model. Her adoptive parents were in Morocco for the last segment and they seemed like nice people who totally love and support their daughter who apparently has put them through a lot because she talked again about being in rehab. Brittani, the dark-haired girl who won, repeatedly spoke about living in a trailer park with her mom, and how winning will change both their lives. They had been on welfare for ten years; it's clear that her life has been financially difficult.

Molly's parents apparently will support her as she tries to make her way as a model; that would have been impossible for Brittani, so it seemed to work out in the best way possible for both. I look to see both of them in ads soon--as I have seen some of the other girls who did not "win."

16 comments :

  1. I was born and adopted in SC. There's a law there (at least there was in 1976) that SC born babies are supposed to be adopted by SC couples. (Of course, we all know there are ways around that.)

    And yes, you're right. SC does not allow access to birth records - even if you're dying of a genetic disorder. But there are other corrupt things as well that SC allows to go on when it comes to adoption.

    I feel for Molly because someday, not only will she feel unwanted but she'll realize just how insignificant her life really was to the state of SC - if that's where she was born and adopted.

    Every few years, I send a nasty letter to the dept of vital statistics with an application for my OBC. Every year, they return my application and the fee. That's just to remind them that it's my certificate and I already know what's on it despite its 'sealed' status.

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  2. Molly has been my favorite since the beginning.. and I I DID pick up on her being an adoptee quite a few weks ago, I forgot! Then it made sense that I kept rooting for her anyway! How can one NOT favor the adoptee!

    Got to love our fabulous bastards~

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  3. She's angry and she's hurt that her parents gave her away. It has affected her life in a myriad of negative ways. Even at the age of 22 it is still the most salient feature of her personality and emotional life. No matter how many adoptees get a public forum and say something similar, adoption promoters will go on their merry way touting adoption as a win-win-win for everyone. Blech!

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  4. FauxClaud:

    So glad I'm not the only fan over 25!

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  5. Interesting that she chose a profession where rejection is common and can be brutal. Perhaps she is seeking validation by participating in this show and modeling in general? Just my armchair psycho-analysis for the day.

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  6. I think she'd like to be a model because she's got the goods and really knows how to play to the camera--she's got modeling genes!

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  7. In a recent visit after bing reunited with my daughter we spent a day with cousins, aunts and spouses. One of my daughters cousins wives made the statement to us about how nice our relationship must be without the usual Maother/Daughter issues. My daughter looked at her and said, "Do you mean like abandonment?" I added that we both were abandonded by the family and she just looked at us with no clue.

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  8. Great response, Trytoheal.

    Your daughter and you think fast on your feet. It must run in the family.

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  9. Thanks Lorraine,

    We've both agreed that in our case Nature has a definite edge over Nuture

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  10. I think her the fool to not mention the child abusing Adoption System when she had the chance. I think it is sad however she many think her Mother did not want her, when her Mother could of been forced to give her away. What this young woman needs is the truth about what happened when she was a baby, just like ALL of us need the Adoption records open. And a note to maybe. People drawn to the arts, including modeling will be destined to enter those fields. It's in the DNA. I do hope however her exposure will reunite her with her Natarul Parents. That could be the best prize she could win. Hope you have been well Lorraine. I have been busy, busy, busy :)

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  11. I can't believe people on an adoption board are willing to believe this girl!!

    I am adopted myself, and I can say 100%, if you want to make that an issue in your life, and blame things on it, its there and available, but it has nothing to do with who you grow up to be (aside from the nature side of things, but that is neither here nor there as far as adoption causing abandonment issues)! Adoption doesn't hold a candle to any real form of abuse or neglect and it is just another excuse for someone to not figure out what their real issues are.

    I know - I did it for years, purposely gaining sympathy from others because i was adopted and never knew my relatives. I knew i was playing a role i could get sympathy for. Sympathy that was much needed for many other reasons in my life. Reasons that were FAR too hurtful to mention casually on TV, or in fact, out loud, ever. Molly is playing the card as many many insecure young women do, and I hope she figures out what her real problem is soon- cause it is NOT being adopted.

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  12. Dear Anonymous:

    We all deal with our issues in a different way. It may not "bother" some as much as others to not know where they came from, but so eagerly criticizing Molly seems uncalled for.

    Furthermore, it doesn't sound to me as if you actually watch the program, or saw what happened. Molly talks about drug use, being in rehab, and finally coming to the realization that her adoptive parents were not going to abandon her. And it never came across as an appeal to sympathy.

    Why be so eager to criticize someone who says she is hurting and may have figured out a reason why?

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  13. @Anon 1:45 am,

    You need to speak only for yourself. You are certainly one of the lucky ones that being adopted didn't cause you any problems. However, I do not appreciate myself and other adoptees who have had a lot of pain because of adoption being so easily dismissed. I happen to admire and respect Molly for saying what she did on "America's Next Top Model". I think it took a lot of courage to not spew the usual rainbows and fairytales version of adoption especially on a family oriented show.

    Certainly your version of adoption is what the public wants to hear and is used to hearing. I appreciate that Molly spoke her truth and not some sanitized version that would probably would have gone over better with a television audience.

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  14. I just wanted to elaborate more on my last comment-knowing who one comes from is the best prize Molly could win, because without the sense of one's basic idenity, which we all get from our bloodline, one cannot feel strong and secure in this world. And in Molly's case, at peace. I am reminded of the character's Jamie's line in the movie Love Notes.
    "I'd trade it all in a second (fame, money) to know who my birthmother is". If Molly hasn't ever seen that film, she should. And to Anon....
    oh SHUT UP.....

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  15. I do watch the show, I love it (guilty pleasure, I've seen every single episode ever made)

    I still think she's using it as an excuse. Maybe you all missed the part where I said I did it for a long time too.

    I have to chuckle at the "sanitized" version of adoption. I mean, do you really think that one moment where you were placed in adoptive care should have the power to affect the rest of your life? You are going to keep complaining and pining and ruin some very good things about your life because you've been given this perceived handicap - which in most cases is actually a leg up from the life you would have led if you weren't adopted. People blaming all their problems on being adopted is WAY more common than not. In fact, most people are surprised that I see it as positive.

    I will give you all experiences aren't the same, and maybe I'm just lucky enough to have the strength to see the good in my situation rather than the bad - but do you all really think its akin to abuse? Seriously?

    If you want to think I live a fairytale, then go ahead. l'm clearly happier doing so!

    I was never that interested in meeting my Bio Mom, but I ended up finding her, and now I have two fantastic families! But you know, thinking positive never did anyone any good.....

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  16. Anon 9:51 wrote:
    "You are going to keep complaining and pining and ruin some very good things about your life because you've been given this perceived handicap - which in most cases is actually a leg up from the life you would have led if you weren't adopted."

    And what if it wasn't a leg up but actually a leg down? The maternal side of my natural family are some of the loveliest people one could ever hope to meet. They were certainly far better than my a-family.

    I really don't understand, Anon, why you even want to come to this blog. Most of us have had it up to here with the happy, dappy adoptee stuff. And besides, no one ever said they have no happiness in their life and that adoption has ruined ever minute.

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