NaBloPoMo Post #21: ABC and their Crappy New Reality Show


November 20th, 2009

ABC is getting set to premere a new “reality” show called Find My Family. A show that will allow viewers to watch as adoptees and birth family find each other.

Great.

Before people jump to the conclusion that I am against search for birth family. I’m not. I believe in open adoption and keeping the connection to a child’s birth family is extremely important.

What bothers me is the tagline and language used to sell this show. The tag-line reads:

Some people have spent their whole lives searching for the one thing that matters most… Their wish will now come true. Let’s find your family.

“Let’s find your family”? Are you kidding me? As an adoptive parent, that’s just a slap in the face. Like I somehow don’t count as family. I feel like they are saying, “Let’s find your real family.”

Just like any reality show, it’s a good guess to say the show will focus on the most extreme examples. And now I wonder, what assumptions will the general public be making about my family? Are people going to start assuming they know Milo’s wants and desires? Do they feel they understand the questions he may have or the personal feelings he has surrounding his adoption?

This is a good perspective on the damage a show like this can cause:

For years, the adoptive community has sought to rectify the past vilification of birth-parents as people who gave away their children. Birth parents are now widely recognized as the First Parents of children, deserving of love, respect, and understanding. It is in no one’s best interest to turn the tables and begin to portray adoptive families as second-class, or less-than’ a family created biologically. This new series is a step back for everyone. (RainbowKids.com)

And yes, the show does use terms like “gave away” and people who “are adopted” (Milo was adopted, not is adopted. It happened once, just like birth. Lexi was born, not is born.) And let’s face it because the show will be filled with drama, raw emotions, heavy editing and extreme circumstances, it will take a while before it’s canceled.


One Response to “NaBloPoMo Post #21: ABC and their Crappy New Reality Show”

  1. Leah on November 21, 2009 11:31 am

    Oohhhh I can speak to this one on SEVERAL different levels! First, I am a triad member. I am the sibling. When my mom was 18 she placed a baby girl for adoption. At the same time that was happening, my dad fathered a child he never knew existed until 23 years later. That son was raised believing another man was his biological father.

    When I was 17, I met my 1/2 sister for the first time. She is very close to her FAMILY. ALL of us! The couple who raised her and the other children they adopted, AND US! She considers us no less of a family than her family. The difference is my mom doesn’t MOTHER her. She might offer advice if my sister asks for it, but she is not my sister’s mother. That was a right she gave up the day she handed that baby over to a social worker 51 years ago TODAY! But my siblings and I? Yes, we are very much siblings, in every sense of the word. Of all the kids, she and I are closest to each other. And, you can find her, and ALL of her siblings (both adopted an biological) on my FB page.

    I met my brother for the first time when I was 20 years old. Shortly after he was conceived his mom married another man. My dad had heard rumors she was pregnant and everyone assumed it was the other man’s baby. Who gets married in the 1950′s to someone other than the father? LOL Anyway, when the baby was about a year old, my grandmother saw it and said, “That HAS to be your baby!” She’d had 11 babies and knew the family look well! It was never brought up again.

    My brother, raised by another man, never once felt connected to that man. They never had that bond that most father/sons had. I’m sure there were several reasons for that, but since my brother didn’t know that man wasn’t his father, he only wondered why he and his dad were so different. My brother now spends every holiday with our family. He is close to his mom, but not the man who raised him. He’s now 50 years old, and he and my dad are best buds. He has a bond with my dad he never had growing up.

    Then, when I was 25, I married a man who was an adoptee. Shortly after we got married he wanted to search for his birth family. During that time his sister, also adopted, decided to search for her birth family as well. She didn’t want to know them, just needed important medical information.

    I found my husband’s bio family in just a couple of months. It turned out he was raised in the same community his birth family lived in, went to school with his sisters, and hung out the same crowd as one of them. (HUGE mistake! He could have very easily dated one of them.) My husband never had a bond with his adoptive father either. His dad was a high-powered attorney, and my husband was a hands-on, take it apart and fix it kind of person. He loved getting dirty, and fixing stuff. They clashed constantly. His dad wanted him to go to college, he got a job digging wells. They NEVER got along. Ever.

    When I found his birth family, he found 2 sisters from his mom, and a sister and 2 brothers from his dad. Interestingly, my husband had 2 sons from a previous marriage. One of those sons didn’t look like either parent and my husband always suspected his wife had an affair. But when he found his brothers, he discovered where his son’s features came from! His son was identical to one of my husband’s bio brothers! My husband now has sibling who he’s VERY close to, a bio mom he talks to once in awhile. He didn’t get to know his bio father as he died the year before we found them. I bet they would have been great together.

    I was never able to find the bio family of the adoptive sister. However, I WAS able to reunite over 200 families when I opened my own business “Searching Minnesota”. It was a mutual consent search (meaning both parties had to be open to it.) but in all that time there were only 2 adoptees who didn’t want contact with their adoptive parents. They WERE able to get all of the medical history they wanted though, something extremely helpful to some of them.

    You have to remember I was working with families who, by law, were forced into private, and 90% of the time EXTREMELY SECRETIVE adoptions! There was a lot of shame involved, and hurt, and feelings of abandonment.

    Of all the families I worked with, there was only ONE where the adoptive family was totally against the search or subsequent reunion. In the case of my husband, his mom was all for it, his dad was completely against it. After we found his bio family it was a taboo topic in his adoptive family if his dad was around. This was interesting to me. Clearly he felt threatened by it, and yet he didn’t even LIKE his son.

    As far as verbiage is concerned, in my husband’s case his IS adopted. It wasn’t something that ended for him. He never felt part of the family. For most adoptees, they WERE adopted, and find themselves in homes where everything works out hunky dory. But for many, they ALWAYS feel different than the people who they are calling their family. This can cause a lot of problems in the teenage years.

    We’ve learned a lot about adoption and it’s effect on the child since the 50′s. Most kids who are adopted now are raised knowing they are. They are raised with a completely different understanding of how they came to be here than those adoptees born prior to 1985. So, remember when you’re getting upset about the show, things were VERY different for those adoptees than they are for the adoptees of today.

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