I’m definitely behind the times when it comes to TV—OK probably in most things, but in TV for sure. I watch most of my TV while I cook or make jewelry. and almost all of it through Netflix streaming. This means I’m at least one season behind. Last night I finished last year’s Season 3 of the NBC drama Parenthood.
Parenthood follows the Braverman family of four adult siblings. One sibling, Julia and her husband Joel, are trying to adopt. The show is set in 2011, but if you didn’t see the current cars, clothes, and ubiquitous iPhones you would assume they were adopting in the 1960s or 70s. I cringed when Julia refers to “buying a baby”. Open adoption is not even mentioned, even though 95% of infant adoptions in the US are now open to some degree. Zoe, the expectant mom, is never offered counseling. For that matter, Julia and Joel seem to know precious little about adoption either. Never does anyone mention what would be in the best interest of the child.
I found myself talking to the TV frequently, providing helpful comments such as:
- Big Mistake.
- What are you people thinking?
- Counseling, anyone?!?
At one point, the birth father asks for money if they want him to sign the relinquishment papers. While Julia refused, no one ever mentioned what type of legacy this would leave for the child or how the child would one day feel if/when he found out. Well, that would be no one other than me, and you can bet I provided plenty of commentary. Ultimately, Zoe changes her mind, and after the birth of her son decides to parent.
What a missed opportunity to paint a realistic portrait of infant adoption in the US. It feeds the misunderstandings of openness in adoption. I still hear from plenty of folks who believe that openness equals co-parenting, or open adoption is inherently confusing to children, or open adoption makes adoptive parents less secure, or open adoption is cruel to birth parents. While all of these are possibilities, they are far from probabilities, especially if all members of the adoption triad (adoptive parents, first parents, and adoptee) are supported and educated.
The adoption drama is continuing this season on Parenthood because at the end of Season 3, a couple of days after the adoption of Zoe’s son fall through, Julia and Joel decide to adopt through foster care. Days later an early elementary aged boy moves in. As is no surprise, there is zero education or preparation provided. We all know how realistic that is, right?
I was quite frankly surprised by this totally unrealistic coverage of adoption because one of the things I’ve loved about Parenthood, is the amazingly accurate portrayal of a family (one of the other Braverman siblings) with a son with Asperger Syndrome. I am blown away by the both the young actor’s skill at capturing autism and by the show writers’ ability to understand what it is like to parent a child with a special need. I was not surprised to find out that Jason Katims, the executive producer of Parenthood has a son with Asperger’s. Too bad someone hadn’t adopted.
Did this portrayal of adoption drive anyone else nuts?
Image credit: starbright31