The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don’t need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you’re thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points–please feel free to adapt or expand on them.
Write a response at your blog (including the link http://www.productionnotreproduction.com/2011/03/open-adoption-roundtable-24.html so your readers can browse other participating blogs) and link to your post in the comments here. Using a previously published post is perfectly fine; I’d appreciate it if you’d add a link back to the roundtable. If you don’t blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments or at the new Facebook page.
I waffled between a lighter writing prompt and a heavier, more personal one for this round. I decided on the less personal topic; we’ll save the deeper one for later this month.
Awhile back, out of curiosity, I set up a search on Twitter for the phrase “open adoption”. If someone mentioned open adoption in a tweet it popped up in my feed reader. The search rarely turned up much. For the most part I saw promotional tweets from adoption professionals or prospective adoptive parents trying to “network,” with occasional chatter from folks involved in open adoptions who were talking about their lives. Then suddenly big bursts of tweets started showing up once a week or so. Tweets that were overwhelmingly–although not totally–negative about open adoption: talk of birth parents needing to leave the adoptive family alone or doing something wrong by maintaining a connection to their children, that sort of thing. Like the greatest hits of open adoption misinformation, delivered on a schedule.
I soon realized those bursts were coming whenever MTV aired a Teen Mom or 16 and Pregnant episode involving adoption. I typically roll my eyes when another clumsy adoption storyline shows up in a scripted show or bristle when reality tv mines the adoption process for stories. But here was a television franchise with massive reach giving lots of viewers their first (heavily edited and manipulated) glimpses of real-life open adoptions. And it didn’t seem to be doing much for the cause.
For better or worse, open adoption is working its way into mainstream entertainment. Which brings us to our writing prompt:
How have you seen open adoption portrayed on television? What did you think? What, if anything, would you like to see?
I’m going to write the opposite of this prompt, because I am a contrary goofus.
I haven’t really watched any TV aside from the occasional ball game since I was eight years old. I will watch things on DVD, however, especially now that Netflix is around to make my life better. When I was pregnant with Cricket, I bought and watched the first three seasons of The Gilmore Girls. I don’t know what kind of sense you have of my from the blog, but GG is very much not my normal fare; my other TV DVDs are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Heroes, Firefly, The West Wing, Battlestar Galactica, The Wire, and I have my eye on Deadwood. I don’t watch feel-good TV, and I don’t want stereotypically girly TV. And yet, most of the way through a crisis pregnancy, knowing that I was going to lose my baby, I suddenly decided that it was time to watch The Gilmore Girls after knowing only the premise.
Funnily enough, the obvious reason for my interest didn’t occur to me until well after the adoption had taken place. I was watching—and sniffling over—a show about a woman who got inconveniently pregnant and while it was hard, she kept her baby and it was the best thing ever and they loved each other like no one else on earth. I sat alone in a room in my parents’ house, watching my stomach twitch and listening to the show and failing to take the hint my subconscious was giving. After I’d watched all the DVDs I bought (massively on sale, I am lamely compelled to point out), I got the rest of the series via Netflix. I craved this faerie-tale product offering me the opposite of adoption. Heck, adoption never comes up on the show; if I remember correctly, abortion is mentioned briefly, but the big decision is whether to marry the father or not.
I still have the DVDs. Mr. Book thinks that I should sell them off since I don’t like the show—I don’t like the show!—but I am weirdly superstitious about getting rid of them. I don’t have many relics from that pregnancy, and I feel somewhat obligated to keep a memento, since it feels as though that pregnancy ended in a death. Of course, there is still a child who was born at the end of it running around a few hours from me . . . but as many times as I try to rephrase that, I can’t get away from the fact that to me, right now, it feels like a death.