Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Parenthood" (the show) Fails at Adoption!

I have been trying to decide all day whether or not to write about this.  It is gnawing at me, though, so I am choosing to get it all down.

I love the show "Parenthood".  It is one of the few shows I watch weekly.  Its characters are interesting, the acting is strong, the story lines are realistic and relevant, and it takes place in my former home of Berkeley.

I may not watch the show much longer, though.

You see, I was very excited to learn at the end of last season that two of the characters, Julia and Joel, would be entering the adoption process as prospective adopting parents this season.  I assumed that since the show handles the subject of Asperger's Syndrome with some sensitivity, all the while educating the audience, that it would also handle the often times poorly-handled topic of adoption well.

So far, it is failing.

In the season opener Julie joked that she wanted to ask the coffee cart girl, a single, pregnant young adult, to "buy her baby".

Hmmm, I thought, surely they are using that sort of nefarious language as an example of how not to treat adoption and will be addressing this in the second episode of the season.  Clearly it is intentionally crude to make a point.


In the second episode, horrifically entitled "Hey, If You're Not Using That Baby", she uses the same language to describe her desire to ask the coffee cart girl, Zoe, to consider making an adoption plan that includes Joel and her as the adopting parents.

Now Parenthood people, did you see how easy the sensitive language is to state?  It just rolls off the tongue: "I would like to ask Zoe to consider making an adoption plan that includes Joel and me as the adopting parents."

When it is stated in this way, it is immediately clear that an adoption is neither a business transaction nor an acquisition of a product.

Adoption is a process by which one or two parents make the extremely difficult decision to place their child for adoption.  They do so because they are not able to raise a child at that time.  They do so out of love and concern for the child.  It is a process fecund with a tremendous amount of pain, suffering, and loss.

To refer to adoption as a purchase is to slap the faces of every single birth parent who has ever had to face this impossible decision.  It cheapens the gift that the birth parents choose to offer their child and the gift that the parents receive due to the sacrifice of the birth parents.

If, as we are to suppose, Julie and Joel have been in the adoption process for six months (according to the imaginary time elapsed between last season's finale and this season's opener), then they should be well-educated regarding the appropriate language for the adoption process.

By my estimates, you have probably filmed about six shows for this season.  So, I will watch four more shows and await a change in this dynamic before throwing in the towel.  In the meantime, please do your research and stop maligning adoption.

Here is a helpful link from the good people at Adoptive Families Magazine to get you started.

From Adoptive Family Magazine


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