The essence of Austin's concerns are:
In the current story line, Quinn, a teen mother who placed her daughter for adoption, is actively (and with malice) trying to "get my daughter back." And, Rachel, an adopted child, deals with the sudden reappearance of her birth mother. In real, legitimate adoptions, a birth mother cannot simply take a child away from their family or pop back into a child's life, however this is one of most pervasive and harmful myths about adoption.Really? I believe the most harmful myths are the win-win myths and the myth of tens of thousands orphans waiting to be rescued.... or, how about the myth that adoption provides a child a "better" life, or that adoptive parents are somehow all wonderful people because they are motivated enough to adopt instead of just humans who are as flawed as any other and even abuse their adopted children on occasion....
For adopted children, the show raises the fear that they may be taken away from their adopted families.REALLY?!! How many adopted kids does Austin know who harbor such a fear? The ones I know all report fantasizing about being found. Additionally, any adoptees who know they are adopted mature, they come to know that they were born into one family and taken or given away. Any fear of being taken or abandoned or rejected already exists deep inside every adoptee. They don't need a stupid TV show to instill that in them.
And for adoptive parents and birth mothers, the show creates confusion about the nature of adoption - confusion that may prevent adoptions from happening at all...Doubt that would ever happen. People continue to adopt every day despite news reports of scams that rip them off for their money; despite failed adoptions - which Amber told me via private communication she experienced herself... Anyone fearful of a mother returning to snatch away an adopted child would be well assured by the adoption providers that it is rare to impossible and relieved, they'd go ahead.
Fact is, if a handful of people are discouraged from adopting because of a youth-oriented musical TV fictionalized show, OH WELL! They obviously were not really sure to begin with, AND... there would still be close to a hundred people and couples vying for each healthy, white child while ignoring the approximately 120.000 children in foster care who could be adopted. So, no real concern is needed.
As for mothers in crisis being dissuaded or confused by the show - equally unlikely. Adoption themes loaded with misconceptions about adoption abound in movies such as Juno and TV shows from Parenthood (on which one of the characters wants to BUY to an acquaintances baby) 16 and Pregnant to Brothers and Sisters to House...Dr. Phil...Rules of Engagement explores surrogacy and Happy Endings is exploring the aftermath of egg "donation."
It's FICTION. It's entertainment and the networks love controversy; the producers love shock content - it adds to their ratings!
The fact is that adoption has been a theme of entertainment since the days of early English literature: The Tempest; Canterbury Tales; Beowulf; Paradise Lost. It makes for interesting stories because of the mystery of it all. It's been depicted in horror films. most recently The Orphan and untold number of soap opera plots. It has been and will continue to be...and is often the punchline of bad jokes and skits on SNL.
Those who want to get all upset about fiction can have a full time job doing so.
Adoption, like life and all interpersonal relationships, is messy. It is filled with lots of ambivalence on the part of both the relinquishing mother before and after he loss, as well as on the part of those who resort to adoption as a last resort after years of frustrating and expensive attempts by most to conceive and carry a child of their own. Even once deciding to adopt, there are many choices and options that are explored: domestic, international, open, closed... Nothing is black and white and clear cut about adoption. it is messy!
The character Quinn is a confused, hurting teen who was abandoned by her family when she became pregnant. She is not a crazed stalker as portrayed by Austin and her petition. I have not watched every episode, so please correct me if I have this wrong, but Quinn's placement of her child, while not an open adoption was an identified adoption. She chose this mother and knew who and where she is, since the adoptive mother is ironically, the original mother of Rachel, the star character of the show who, as a result of her adoption has two fathers.
The adoptive/original mother was not receptive at all to having a relationship with her beautiful daughter Rachel, despite their shared dark haired beauty, vocal talent and stage presence. Interesting that this rejection did not concern Austin enough to start a petition.
Mothers who relinquish children to adoption struggle with enormous ambivalence both before and after placement. Likewise those who adopt also struggle with their decision, most often made only after trying everything possible they can afford to have a child of their own. Once they finally resolve to their last resort - adoption - there are still many ebbs, flows and choices: domestic, international, open, closed, infant or older child, etc.
Nothing about adoption is black and white. It's messy.
Adoption is also laden with fear and it is fear-mongering that comes across most clearly in Austin's petition.
What comes across most clearly in the petition is the fear - common among those who adopt - that their child's mother will come back into their lives, interfere in some way, or heaven forbid stake a claim on their child and seek to overturn the adoption.
Precious, precious few adoptions are overturned. You can let yourself be crippled by fear or embrace the truth.
Truth...something missing in current adoption practice.
The fact is that such fears are the fears of adoptive parents who see adoption as their entitlement, their child as a possession, and do not see their children as separate human beings with fears, concerns, wishes, hopes, lives and rights of their own. In my 30+ years experience with those touched by adoption,
One of the best gifts any adoptive parent can give their child - short of opening a closed adoption - is to open the dialog aloud that their kids are thinking and wondering about. I think Glee and other dumb show that mentions adoption - even incorrectly - can be a wonderful jumping off vehicle for such conversations.
Austin wants PBS announcements to encourage adoption loss and separation. Here are the ones I'd like to see:
- Public Service Announcements and education starting in HS about the preventable causes of infertility in order to reduce the demand for adoptable babies and children which supports global child traffickers who kidnap and steal children as well as the domestic agencies that pressure women and often deceive them.
- PBS announcements to educate young women starting in Jr. HS about access to birth control. And I see a need for PBS announcements that offer help to mothers in crisis to parent safely.
- PBS announcements to tell prospective adopters that taking children one at a time, at a price rag of tens of thousands of dollars per child, does nothing to ameliorate the poverty of that child's family, community or nation. That the real humanitarian thing to do is to spend those tens of thousands of dollars not to fill one wish to be a parent but to dig a well, build a school, or buy medical supplies.
- And I see a need for PBS announcements that encourage prospective adopters to adopt from foster care or simply to foster, rather than add to the demand that creates coercion and exploitation.