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Realty TV Shows and Adoption don’t go together…

26 Jul

I started this post a week ago in reaction to Oxygen’s new show “I’m Having Their Baby” and never finished it.  I was going to call it Dear Diary.  Today, Amanda at The Declassified Adoptee made a brilliant point in her post, Oxygen’s “I’m Having Their Baby:” Oh Look, Another Show I Won’t Watch! that we need to consider talking about it because it matters.  Of course her post is clear, concise, well written, and I recommend those who have not already read it to take the time to read it now.

Last time a new version of this type of show aired, I did the post Adoption Should Not Be Entertainment – but like Amanda noted, we need to name it and get others to see the flip side.  That post said this, and I also said at the end that “It’s all pretty hypocritical if you ask me.  When it is your adoptee – they must be protected, but at the same time, you watch another adoptee exploited.”

What strikes me most though is the invasion of privacy for the adoptee, and if I am being completely honest, humiliating.  It is one thing to have pictures of arriving home to your new family, it is whole other kettle of fish to have the video of your surrender and everything leading up to it, shown on TV and forever available to any and all for their viewing.  It was hard enough for me as a mature adult to read my surrender court document of my mother giving me up – I cannot imagine watching it on TV and having friends whose parents watched it as well, because you know it will come out.  Unbelievable.

When the Time cover last week showed a mother breastfeeding a 3-year-old the outcry was intense – that picture will follow that boy throughout his life.  He will be teased and bullied in school.  He will be so embarrassed.  He will be so angry his mother did that to him by allowing that picture to be taken.  What about his privacy and how could he give his consent as a 3-year-old.  There was such an outrage that any mother could do that to her child.  Yet show a mother giving up her baby and another couple adopting – oh well isn’t that just a beautiful tear-jerker – what the hell?  Does no one realize that being adopted makes you a subject for teasing, bullying, snickering, ignorant comments in school? But of course you recognise that, because that is a subject on blogs and message boards, and how horrible it is for the child and how outraged the parent is.  How one (the breastfeeding picture) is oh-so wrong, and the other one (watching a mother surrender her right to parent) is oh-so-beautiful, never ceases to amaze me.

Getting back to the points I wanted to make is that this is something that has serious potential to hurt the child in the future.  Understanding and accepting being adopted can be difficult when you are a child as your cognitive abilities grow and your understanding of the outside “normal” world expands.  One day you realize that not everyone is adopted.  That most kids live in the family they were born too in some version.  Then of course comes the bullies, and believe me that anything out of the ordinary is fair game for a bully, and they will use it any way they can.  Hence my Dear Diary post which is really a continuation of the above post – this is as far as I got in imagining what it would be like as the child – because it upset me just thinking about it.

January 2015 – age 7 At the store I saw a picture of my birth mom on the cover of a magazine.  Mom didn’t want to talk about it.

January 2017 – age 9  – I woke up last night and went to get a drink and found mom watching a show where babies are given away.

January 2019 – age 11 Christmas holidays are over and guess what happened the first day back in school?  Tommy was saying something about his mom watched my adoption on TV.  Mom didn’t want to talk about it.

January 2021 – age 13Remember me talking about Tommy and my adoption on TV?  He sent everyone but me a link to a video about my birth and my birth mom giving me to my mom.  They were making fun of me.  Why would that be on TV?

July 2021 – age 13 and 1/2  – I found the video and I watched it and it hurts – why did they have to put it on TV?  What was wrong with me that my birth mom didn’t want me.

At the same time, I also wonder if those creating or promoting the show did any research into how stress affects both the mother, and child in the womb?  They have done research and are doing more research into this, and a mother considering adoption is already under stress.  Why are they promoting adding MORE stress on the mother and the impact on the child in the womb – how is this even considered ethical?  How do you handle stress? This post provides details on exactly how the stress on the mother is transferred too, and affects the baby in the womb and the long term consequences to the child.  Three different articles are linked – read them please.

I will never watch those shows – they are in extremely poor taste and set a very bad example by exploiting not only the mothers but the children as well.  I am against pre-birth matching as it is practiced today and detail out exactly why here – I don’t like the methods used today.  A snippet from that post below.

I am against prospective adoptive parents being at the hospital watching the mother go through labor, and even more so when they are in the delivery room. It reeks of entitlement and co-opting of something, that is at it’s fundamental core, is a very private and spiritual event between a mother and her child. A child she has nurtured in her womb for 40 weeks. The birth of your child is one of the most intimate moments of your life, and having an audience, especially the audience who is there because they want your baby cheapens and degrades the experience. It must also damage the ability of mother and child to bond because there is always that elephant in the room. I believe it enhances an atmosphere ripe for manipulation of the mother to ensure the outcome is surrender, rather than parent.

That is why I am adamantly opposed to creating a reality tv show that pushes the exploitation envelope even further.

Just say no – boycott the show and tell others why they should too.

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20 Comments

Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child, Ethics

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

20 responses to “Realty TV Shows and Adoption don’t go together…

  1. shadowtheadoptee

    July 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Oh, my, just another episode in the reality of an adoptee. I think I’ll title this one, “As My Stomach Turns, Once Again”. Seriously, what kind of people watch this crap, and aren’t totally repulsed by it? Pppfffttt, and they claim adoption is in the best interest of the child? since when? I’m just going to go throw up now.

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  2. TAO

    July 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    You always manage to make me laugh – wish I had asked your advice for the title – absolutely perfect…

    “As My Stomach Turns, Once Again”

    Reminds me of what I call the Young and the Restless – the young and the useless.

    Thanks for the laugh my friend…

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  3. shadowtheadoptee

    July 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    “The Young and the Useless”? lol Thank you for the laugh.

    IMO, what kind of people would agree to do a show like this, and, better yet, how much are they getting paid, and, if they aren’t getting paid, what are they getting? Seriously, when you think about the kind of peple willing to do reality shows, and add adoption to that, how did they even get approved to adopt a child, and for God’s sake, who exactly approved them? If this isn’t proof of the unethical practices in adoption, what is?

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    • Scooping it up

      July 26, 2012 at 6:58 pm

      exactly. i don’t understand what kind of prospective adoptive parents agree to be apart of this show, and why any social worker would agree to let them be apart of it. it seems unethical and coercive just by participating. talk about exploiting emotions and tragedy.

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  4. Scooping it up

    July 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Already boycotting. I think the entire thing is disgusting. High fiving this piece big time. I did latch onto one thing you mentioned. I never thought about being “against” pre-birth matching in adoption, except perhaps in contrived situations like the pressure of being on a reality TV show where most likely everyone is rooting for the adoptive parents and looking down on the prospective birth mother. Though I will say, the way things go in domestic adoption today with all the “choose us look how awesome we are” blogs and hiring professional image consultants to put together books and bios that will appeal to young mothers who are thinking about placing. The whole thing made my husband and I really uncomfortable when we first entertained the idea of growing our family through adoption. But now, as a parent to kids who were internationally adopted, I can’t help but wish first parents had more say in who was going to raise their kids. Why make them even more powerless in an already terrible situation? In many cases, they didn’t do anything wrong, like in the US children who are taken and placed in foster care due to abuse. Those parents certainly have no say in where their kids end up. For example, if Christian or Muslim Ethiopians find out their children were adopted into Athiest or Jewish families and would be raised devoid of these important cultural and personal beliefs, would that change their minds? Would they even have the ability to wait until a better match could be made? Is this a completely absurd scenario because the only reason (supposedly) they are relinquishing is due to an urgent and extreme and tragic need to relinquish? Why shouldn’t they have a say if they feel their kids need to go to adoption to choose who will parent them? No seriously, why? I want to think about this. What kind of adoption culture could result in international adoption if it started to look like it does in the US with prospective adoptive parents trying to “sell” themselves as an awesome family to families thinking about relinquishing children. The whole thing is tragic and messed up and the ones in the aftermath of these tricky situations are the kids. I get uncomfortable just thinking about it. I can’t have it both ways. What do you think?

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    • TAO

      July 26, 2012 at 6:59 pm

      Scooping – I am not against ALL pre-birth matching – only how it is practiced today in domestic infant adoption. The prospective parents hope go to doctor appointments, are encouraged to keep in contact throughout the pregnancy, they hope to go to the birth and cut the cord (think about that for a minute) they hope to be the first to hold the baby. Then add in all the birth parent expenses, sometimes being housed in birth mother housing and often a different state from their own support systems, the counselling by the “agency” staff, the paper offered when the mother can legally sign…

      Other aspects I think are good and agree with – it is the parts that I think create the pressure that I am against.

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    • Ann-Marie Markley (@AnnMarieMarkley)

      October 10, 2012 at 2:22 am

      Note: I may have followed this wrong. But to answer your question….when it comes to foster care…the child is required to be able to attend their religious events if that is what the child desires even if the child’s foster parents are of a different religion. At least in the state of IL.

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      • TAO

        October 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm

        Ann-Marie – thanks for chiming in. Your understanding of foster care is my understanding and I would think it would apply to most if not all states. It used to be in domestic infant adoption that many of the religious agencies did placements that way as well.

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  5. TAO

    July 26, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Scooping said: “For example, if Christian or Muslim Ethiopians find out their children were adopted into Athiest or Jewish families and would be raised devoid of these important cultural and personal beliefs, would that change their minds? Would they even have the ability to wait until a better match could be made? Is this a completely absurd scenario because the only reason (supposedly) they are relinquishing is due to an urgent and extreme and tragic need to relinquish? Why shouldn’t they have a say if they feel their kids need to go to adoption to choose who will parent them? No seriously, why? I want to think about this. What kind of adoption culture could result in international adoption if it started to look like it does in the US with prospective adoptive parents trying to “sell” themselves as an awesome family to families thinking about relinquishing children. The whole thing is tragic and messed up and the ones in the aftermath of these tricky situations are the kids. I get uncomfortable just thinking about it. I can’t have it both ways. What do you think?”

    See they could have the profiles to choose from realistically – but they could not be glossy advertisements – just detailing the type of people, religion, life phillospy (sp?), parenting choices, education views, sahm or profession etc. When I was placed mom was shocked because my mother was catholic and mom and dad weren’t – mom asked the social worker if that would be okay with my mother (it was) – they worried about that stuff back then at least in my area – mom and dad met the three criterias my mother made for my placement – no one else did.

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    • Scooping it up

      July 26, 2012 at 11:43 pm

      yeah, i like the profiles idea as opposed to the glossy advertisements. i like your process on this. — that statement about cutting the cord, gave me a chill. the fact is, one of my kids came to me at 6 months, the other adopted ones are 6 and 12. i don’t need a cord cutting, or first steps to parent them. i feel badly for any parent who wants a baby SO badly this narrow view of what it means to be a mom and dad that NEEDS those experiences (at the cost to the birth mother) to feel connected to the child is misinformed at best.

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      • Scooping it up

        July 26, 2012 at 11:44 pm

        please excuse poor sentence structure. i gotta go put crying kids in bed. 🙂

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        • TAO

          July 27, 2012 at 12:49 pm

          To be quite honest the whole birth thing bothers me and believe if they have to be at the hospital it should be in the waiting room.

          I came home at 2 1/2 months – that was very problematic in adjustment ** which was different than my siblings who came home at around a week – but mine was because the SW stood firm in finding parents who matched my mothers criteria, and she had to go outside of the waiting pool to convince already done parents to change their mind. That of course wouldn’t cause a long wait today like it did in my rural area way back when.

          ** I don’t know where if I was that way before I came home, or not, because no one knows where I was, so it is speculation that it was due to the length before preplacement. Dad (doctor) was adamant that it was not a physical concern, but grieving and did attachment parenting to transition me.

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  6. marilynn

    July 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    I help locate and contact members of separated families and I do that for free no donations accepted ever not one single one in about 200 families not one penny. But there was this one time I was tempted. ABC find my family saw some posts of mine looking for my good friend’s mother. My friend is very pretty and they wanted to buy her from me for $25,000, I had to turn over the reigns to them and they would do a search. Get this, I would get the money even if they did not find her. I’d been looking for her mother 5 years every day for at least an hour a day to no avail and I’d written all the major talk shoes and the only thing I’d say when a family would say what could they do for me in return was I’d ask them to write Oprah or any tv show and ask them for help finding my friends mother. These people just came to me not reacting to a letter they just found me. But they asked if she had a dark past was she a runaway? Any depression drugs or trouble with the law they only wanted happy adopted people and their happy birth parents and no dark stories of separation. They were going to put my friend through a background check and psych evaluation. They wanted her story to be heartwrenching but not depressing. They just loved that the only photo she had of her mother was at the adoption agency holding an orange – my friend planted an orange tree in her front yard in case her mom ever dropped by. They loved that and they ended up dragging all their pain olympics winners up a hill to meet their mothers and fathers under a big oak tree in the middle of bum fk egypt because of my friend and her damn orange tree. I turned them down and told them that they would not put her through all that (she’d totally fail those tests and had run away so many times) I said I did not want the money to which my friend said – no we want the money but I said I wanted no part of it and I ended up finding her mom days after I told the ABC producer to bite me I did not want their help. No Reality TV and adoption don’t mix. Tasteful documentary maybe but it would have to be produced by an adopted person even then its capitalizing on stuff that – its a real ethical mine field. I don’t like to see it sensationalized. I don’t even like when people write books and make money taliking about it.

    In long – my experiences lead me to agree reality tv and adoption are kinda tacky bedfellows

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    • TAO

      August 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm

      Sorry Marilyn – meant to reply and got distracted and forgot (stroke brain). Wow – insight into the “real” world or “reality” TV. The adult reunion shows I will watch but don’t go out of my way to watch either. They are adults though which is different. I just wish all the sealed records laws were done away with so those who wish to search actually have a decent chance of taking the journey and not hitting a brick wall at each turn.

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  7. BEC

    June 20, 2013 at 10:20 am

    I disagree with you all! That child will be able to look back and see why they were adopted and how devastating it was to the biological mother. Rather than wonder why or feel like they don’t matter.

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    • TAO

      June 20, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      BEC – are you an adoptee?

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  8. lynnemiller

    July 29, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    I agree reality shows and adoption don’t mix. Showing the surrender on TV is totally inappropriate. It violates the adoptee’s privacy and it’s completely insensitive.

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    • TAO

      July 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm

      Hi Lynne – thanks for reading! You will find I tend to rant a lot. Even after all this time I still do not understand how people can’t see it is a clear violation of the babes privacy.

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  9. mgquinonez

    December 16, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Reality shows can make adoption seem more normal and open up people’s mind to the idea. Though in a surrogacy way seems counterproductive. In terms of couples adopting children on TV it should be done from foster care. I mean setting up a plan to have someone else carry a child is silly because there are so many already born and waiting! Adoption should be made “mainstream”. My hope is adoption will become more normal and less rare and kids won’t even bully one another over it because eventually it won’t even be a big deal. Like how some kids have gay dads or moms. Eventually if the media catches on, the majority of people just hop on board too.

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    • TAO

      December 16, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      Reality shows are scripted and show what producers want the public to see. Adoption is a normal part of society already – there are millions of us.

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