Recently, a blog I follow linked to an article in Adoptive Families magazine, in which recent media portrayals of adoption and adoptive families were given a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down.’ I admit, I haven’t seen many of the instances cataloged by Adoptive Families, but I wager that everyone impacted by adoption has either winced or warm-fuzzied (or both) upon seeing how adoption can be presented to the general populace. Here are a few that have caught my attention, for better or worse, and I hope to hear from others about what they’ve noticed….
In the Are You Effing Kidding Me?! category….
- Books like this that seem to emphasize speed and dodging obstacles (like expectant mothers’ freedom to choose) as keys to a successful adoption. The words ‘Fast Track’ should not be at the forefront of any book about adoption. It just feels tacky. I acknowledge that I haven’t read the book, and my assumptions about its tone from the publisher’s description could be way off. But if that is the case, the author and publisher should not title the book to capitalize upon and exacerbate many potential adoptive parents’ fixation with speed and simplicity. I saw it on the shelf at Barnes & Noble and physically cringed.
- On Fish Hooks, a new Disney Channel cartoon set in the fish tanks of a pet store, the main characters bring home a dog to live in their fish tank. (Ridiculous, yes, and I acknowledge the inherent silliness.) When one of the fish doesn’t like the dog, he scares the dog into running away. A fellow fish is horrified, and says something along the lines of, ‘Oh, no! He KNOWS! Did he steal my bike to run away and find his real father?!’ Why would they even GO that route? The characters are supposed to be kids, and this goofy plot was about a new pet they brought home. I was watching with my four-year-old, and HE even seemed to think it was weird. I thought we all kind of knew by now that jokes about being adopted are insensitive and stupid.
- Babycenter, the massive online parenting community, in which ‘Adopting’ doesn’t exist as a category. Users can be ‘Trying to Conceive,’ ‘Expecting,’ or among several age ranges for their children, but not adopting. If you check ‘Expecting,’ you get inundated with breastfeeding crap. Worse yet, choosing the ‘Trying to Conceive’ option fills your Babycenter adspace with all sorts of fertility products and processes — always a good time if you’ve recently abandoned that road. There is a choose-your-own option, but Babycenter should add an ‘Adoptive Family’ option, and steer ethical products and services to the same adspace.
- The trailer for the movie Like Dandelion Dust horrified me. We *definitely* need another sensationalist portrayal of adoption, in which birthparents are poor white trash, and adoptive parents are rich babysnatchers. Awesome. And it’s winning awards? Fabulous. Bring on several more years of people asking me if I’m scared that my sons’ real parents will try to take them back, among other stupidities. Gah! Let’s all rent The Orphan while we’re at it!
On a brighter note, the Well Isn’t That Refreshing? catgory….
- Todd Parr, a prolific writer of brightly-colored, simply-illustrated children’s books. Many of his books seamlessly include adoption, such as The Family Book and It’s Okay to be Different — not adoption-centric, but adoption-inclusive and positive. He also wrote We Belong Together: A Book About Adoption and Families, which we don’t have yet, but I plan on ordering based on his great treatment of the topic in other books. There are MANY more children’s books about adoption, even compared to four years ago when our older son was born. I can’t attest for the tone and quality of all of them, but it’s great to have so many choices.
- Similarly, there are several baby books geared toward adoptive families, but only a few that didn’t seem to overplay adoption. In other words, YES, I wanted a baby book that could include my sons’ birthfamilies in the family tree section, and where we’d have space for his adoption story, but it didn’t seem right to choose one where adoption was the sole focus of the child’s birth and identity. Some of the examples I saw felt a little over-saturated in this respect. There is middle ground. I picked My Family, My Journey — inclusive, without overkill.
- The movie The Family Stone, in which a same-sex couple is preparing to adopt, and Sarah Jessica Parker’s perpetually foot-in-mouth girlfriend character asks a series of stereotypically stupid questions at the family’s dinner table, to which the entire family looks at her like the idiot she is, because this couple and their impending adoption are just another thread in the family’s story. I liked seeing a nontraditional family portrayed so positively within their family and in general.
- Heartsong Adoption Cards, a site selling greeting cards for adoptive families, which recently expanded to include completely customizable cards for multiracial families. The designs are really simple, and they could stand to have more cards for birthfamilies, but I like the idea that a mom saw a need for greeting cards and announcements that include various kinds of adoptive families, so she started Heartsong. Greeting Card Universe also has a ton of adoption-related cards.
Add more, please — for better or worse….