' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Adoption is Not Gleeful; Fox's hit show tells it like it is

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Adoption is Not Gleeful; Fox's hit show tells it like it is

An adoptive mother who finds the adoption plot lines on Glee so offensive has started a petition asking for a Public Service Announcement that would offset the "harmful inaccuracies" the show perpetuates. Really, we wondered when we first heard if this--after all the inaccurate and nasty portrays of first/birth parents we've seen. What does this woman find so offensive on the Fox teen hit, FMF wondered.

It's about a birth mother who wants her child back. Quelle surprise! A cheerleader, Quinn (played by Diane Argon), is a birth mother who wants to get her child back from the adoptive mother; another character (born by surrogate) has had her real mother come back into her life. Well! How outrageous is that!?!

Angry adopter Amber Austin initiated a petition on change.org for because, Quinn is, as the petition puts it, "actively (and with malice)" trying to get the baby back from Shelby (Idina Menzel), the birth mother of Glee Club member Rachel (Lea Michele). Following this? That means that adoptive mother Shelby is also the biological mother of Rachel, the best singer in the Glee Club. And they remarkabye look like mother and daughter! Yo! And they are all at the same high school! The father of the disputed baby? Puck--he sleeps around.

According to Austin, this story line is objectionable because "for adopted children, the show raises the fear that they may be taken away from their adoptive families. And for adoptive parents and birth mothers, the show creates confusion about the nature of adoption.... And for young women facing unplanned pregnancies, many of whom are in Glee's target demographic, the show gives the inaccurate impression that adoption is a temporary solution, not a permanent one." 

Interloper Lorraine and Interlopee Daughter Jane
Austin is so wrong it's hard to know where to begin. In real life, birth parents do come back into the lives of their teenage children. Case in point: fellow blogger Lorraine who showed up out of the blue when her daughter was 15. Her daughter's adoptive parents said, Come right in! "Our" daughter needs you! And birth parents do suffer from losing their children and want to get them back. More would try if the laws weren't stacked against them --  allowing the adoption industry to purvey false information and permitting pre-birth and delivery table surrenders -- and if birth parents could find attorneys to take their cases.

It's doubtful that a story line about a mother trying to get her child back would lead any pregnant woman to believe adoption is temporary, It might, however, clue them in that adoption does create lifelong pain and thus deter surrenders, something that Austin and her ilk would find threatening.

As for causing adopted children to fear they will be taken from their adoptive families, it's more likely the show will give them hope that their birth families will come looking for them. As the writings of adults adopted as infants attest, adopted children do want to know their first mothers. Zara Phillips, writing her in her memoir, Chasing Away the Shadows, voiced the desire succinctly: “I was always waiting for the day that my birthmother would show up on my doorstep, apologizing and telling me there had been a terrible mistake.”  

Austin and the 2099 adoptive parents who signed her petition would do well to forget the "out of sight/out of mind myth about adopted children. They could take a cue from adoptive father, Adam Pertman. At the Open Adoption Symposium sponsored by Coordinators2 in Richmond last month, Pertman, director of the E. B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, told about wanting to open up communication with his adopted son, Zack, about adoption. Pertman said he asked him, “How often do you think about adoption?"

Without looking up from the game he was playing, Zack shrugged his shoulders and said, “Not much.”

Pertman thought for a moment, and then asked, “How often you you think of your birth mother?”

Zack responded, matter-of-factly, “All the time.” 

Zinger, that. Pertman was obviously surprised and distraught as he told the story.

The only people the Glee story line will scare are insecure adoptive parents who fear that given a choice, their children will want to return to their original families. What scares us at FMF is that ignoramuses like Aylin Zafar of Time (9/7/11) give credence to Austin's boogey-birthmother scenario, ("adoptive parents are right to be upset about the story line"). And we've read the same sentiment elsewhere in news stories of this silly imbroglio. Biological/birth parents almost never get such a break when we're written about. We're usually the bad guys, the careless teenagers, the drug-addled sluts, the moms in prison, the uncaring don't-look-back hotties (or an African-American doctor) who had a child and walked away. (See yesterday's post for more on media matters.) To change our image in the media, now that's a petition we could get behind.--Jane and Lorraine
 See also:
Is adoption ever funny to the adopted, to first mothers?

If the folks at Fox are inclined to do a PSA about adoption, we suggest they take a look at The Declassified Adoptee's thoughtful suggestions.
Today is First Mother Forum's 600th post.


  1. I refuse to watch shows that portray the bull crap side of adoption - then insecure needy adopter that is petitioning really needs to realize that she is doing this crap to what are supposed to be "her" children.

    I started watching "The Lying Game" - at first with a great deal of skepticism. Then later with interest. It is written from the viewpoint of a set of twins - one adopted by the "rich" parents, the other left in foster care. While the foster care one is portrayed a bit too naive, it seems to be making the adoption process interesting. It is an illegal adoption where the first mother is portrayed as a true victim.

    I wait to see how it plays out.

  2. The Lying Game? Never heard of it. Do tell.

  3. It is one of those mind candy set ups with teens being way too old and with far too much money - LOL - but it is about these twins. One adopted by a rich couple, one left in foster care - after her mother supposedly abandoned her. The story - thus far - has unfolded that the one twin (with money) found the other in a search for their mother. She switches places with the poor one (on the run from the cops on an assault charge - trumped up by a crappy foster mother). The rich one then then goes to LA and to house in which the poor one lived with mom, until a fire. The nursery has a unique painting that the poor one remembers - on the ceiling. She finds mom, after some twists with the name being wrong on the OBC and through an art gallery that carries mom's work. Mom is in a mental hospital, believing she burned her child - the poor one - up in the fire.

    The plot is pretty convoluted - but in essence - rich adoptee is very spoiled and nasty to everyone. The lies are obvious to her. So she searches. Poor one is oblivious to the kind of nasty that the rich one plays and is trying to live a life she has no clue about.

    Mom was tricked by two men - the adoptive father and a friend - both of whom are family friends with mom and were friends with her and her sister - not sure how that fits. The friend is a lawyer that sneaks around trying to hide things.

    Mom leaves the hospital and - at season close - rich twin is drowning in a car, poor twin is confronted by mom at her birthday party and she is still pretending to be the rich twin.

    Should be interesting. The only innocents appear to be the poor twin and mom.

    LOL - such crap I watch to amuse my mind!

  4. The really funny thing is that Amber has gone private with her own blog. She is afraid of people with a differing opinion. I can't tell if she is the "activist" she claims to be, a coward who hides and begs her readers not to share her blog or a victim as she was blasting everyone who disagreed with her petition as hateful and bitter. I do know that she had several failed adoptions in which the mothers decided to parent their children and this has left her quite entitled and very bitter. She wrote a post blasting the mother of a child she wanted to adopt because the woman was poor.
    It figures a woman like Amber would create a petition like this. She loves the attention she is getting from the media but is terrified of being found out.

  5. Just because the son thinks about his "birth mother" all the time doesn't necessarily mean he wants her to show up at the door and take him away from his family. Just sayin.

    "As for causing adopted children to fear they will be taken from their adoptive families, it's more likely the show will give them hope that their birth families will come looking for them."

    You just can't say this like it's fact, like you have inside info about what all adopted children think and feel. What you're saying is possible but to say it's "more likely" is ridiculous in my opinion. It's as likely there would be children who would fear being taken from their families.

    Like everything in the media, talk to your kids openly and with confidence about the things they watch, far better than a public service announcement.

  6. Man, it seems adoption is everywhere! (I'm an adult adoptee.)

    A little off topic, but there was an NPR show on yesterday that covered trans-racial adoptions and how adopters taking a "color-blind or we don't see in color" approach hurt more than helped TR adoptees, in many cases.

    And last night's episode of Body of Proof had an adoption-related sub-theme. And it turns out one of the lead characters is adopted and has decided to search for his f/b-parents.

  7. It's this ridiculous, outdated mindset that a child can only have one "real" set of parents! It pits first families against adoptive families when they should be working TOGETHER to serve the best interests of the child and first mother.

    As for the awful 'Glee' adoption story-line, I was appalled at the way Quinn's situation was portrayed. She came from a wealthy family -- her parents couldn't have at least hired her a decent attorney? The school counselor couldn't have discussed her options with her? What kind of adoption was this, anyway?! Was there an agency? Why wasn't open adoption discussed? You'd think that Shelby of all people, who was clearly deeply affected by losing her own natural daughter, would have been more empathetic towards the emotional needs of a first mother.

  8. I must admit I haven't watched Glee since last year when I caught a few episodes about Shelby and her daughter--and Liz, you are right--did the writers forget that she gave up a daughter and they had these heartfelt shows about her own daughter? That she might have a different take on what it's like to give up a child? Maybe it is too ridiculous to watch, but that attitude is making its inimical way into the hearts and minds of teenagers. Juno much?

    I think the show is being replaced by he World Series, but scheduled for next Wednesday, back to back episodes, if no game.

  9. @Campbell - Are you adopted? Do you have inside info about what all adopted children think and feel? If not, don't speak for me. I am an adult adoptee and I can tell you that growing up I often fantasized that my natural mother would come and get me. I saw it as a positive thing, not a scary thing. I wasn't afraid of my natural parents. I also didn't think that it would mean that I would never see my adoptive parents again. If a parent can love more than one child, why can't I love more than one set of parents?

  10. Well if they don't like Glee I'm sure they'e going to hate "Once Upon A time" airing on ABC on Sunday nights. Here's a link that describes the basis for the series: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Once_Upon_a_Time_(TV_series)

    ****SPOILER**** The "Evil Queen" is also portrayed as the adoptive mom in this series!

  11. @ anon: I'm adopted and did wish my bmom'd show up and take me home, but I also know of other adoptees who've stated very openly that they were indeed terrified that such a thing may happen, so please, while I understand your ire, be aware that not all of us wanted to be whisked off by our bparents as kids ... and tbh, even though I did dream of it often, I suspect it would be truly terrifying to be ripped from the family that you've grown up in without some kind of gentle merger from one back to the other.

  12. Thanks 7rin. I was curious if anyone would address anon's comment @ me. Yep anon I'm adopted. So wouldn't dream of speaking for you. In fact, that was the point I was trying to make. My comment was taking issue with the OP, not an adoptee, saying what adopted children were "more likely" to feel.

    OP said:
    "As for causing adopted children to fear they will be taken from their adoptive families, it's more likely the show will give them hope that their birth families will come looking for them."

    My comment was:
    You just can't say this like it's fact, like you have inside info about what all adopted children think and feel. What you're saying is possible but to say it's "more likely" is ridiculous in my opinion. It's as likely there would be children who would fear being taken from their families.

    So strange to me anon you'd take issue with what I said and not what the OP said. I said basically the same thing you said yet you decide to scold me.



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