That Show About Adoption

5 Sep

Brandalynn and the couple with whom she has placed her child

So I’ve watched all the episodes of that Oxygen show, I’m Having Their Baby. I pronounce it a very solid “eh”.

First the good – and there was some good. As a prospective adoptive parent, it was good to see another angle on adoption. It’s painful, heartbreaking. And every woman on the show struggled with her decision.

The shows featured 12 women, I think. Three decided to parent, although in a follow up interview one of those woman announced that she ended up placing after the first month. So nine placed at the hospital and one additional one placed later. The birth moms were different ages (from teens to 30-somethings), single, married, black, white, Hispanic.

I cried during every episode. And I was grateful to see each of the situations.

That said, there is a lot wrong with show. More wrong than right.

Let’s start with the name – I’m Having THEIR Baby. In fact, she’s not. She’s having a baby definitely. Her baby, even. But she’s not having it for them. She might not choose to parent, but that doesn’t make the child she’s carrying any less her own. Any less her partner’s. This is not a surrogacy.

Each episode starts with a subtitle containing the EM’s (expectant mom) name and something like “6 weeks until adoption” or “8 weeks until adoption”. This bugs me, too. Even the strongest of bonds an EM and a prospective adoptive family form can be undone. Until the papers are signed, it’s both dangerous and presumptive to assume she will place. Imagine if the EM went to see her social worker and was told, “So your adoption is set for six weeks from today.” She might feel undue pressure – especially if she’s young or lacks confidence – to place even if she changes her mind. Even if her instinct tells her not to place.

And that’s the last point I want to make about the show – the social workers assigned to the birth moms are extremely focused on the adoptions*. And, it makes sense, because that’s their job. But I can’t help but think that if they had been a little more focused on the current mental state of the moms they would have predicted those disruptions. And I sure wish some of the other birth moms had a little more support at the end when they feel torn apart and don’t know what to do. I fear that situation is pretty typical, too. A lot of people on the adoption forums say that once they arrived at the hospital, the birth mom specialists, the adoptions specialists and the social workers are no where to be found. Ugh.

So, did you watch? What did you think?

*Big caveat here since I recognize we’re only seeing a tiny, tiny portion of the interactions between the agency reps and the EMs.

 

2 Responses to “That Show About Adoption”

  1. Jessica September 6, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    I watched all the episodes and really liked the show. I agree that some of the production decisions (title and structure) could have been better, but overall I’m glad they created the show. My husband and I are planning on adopting, and he tends to be overly optimistic about everything, so he was just figuring everything would go in the best way possible like it did for a friend of his who placed a child for adoption while we were in college. Watching this show gave him a needed perspective of the different kinds of situations our birthparent(s) might be in, and forced him to confront the idea that our first match (or more) might not end up working out.

    I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that the adoption counselors didn’t predict the cases where the women changed their mind about adoption. With the women who decided to parent, I didn’t see an indication that the adoption counselor was surprised. In particular, the adoption counselor of the first woman, Mary, seemed to ask her repeatedly throughout the episode if she was sure she still wanted to go the route of adoption. But it seems like in almost every case, at the moment of birth the birthmother struggled with the thought of placing her child, even when she was still sure it was the best choice. I would imagine adoption counselors are used to seeing this rush of emotion but knowing that many women are still glad afterwards that they placed their child for adoption, and so it’s understandable that they would want to talk through things with a woman who suddenly changed her mind upon seeing her child, and that doesn’t mean they’re pressuring them to continue with the adoption.

    • susan September 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

      You’re probably right, Jessica. I’m just so worried about coercion. It will kill me to think that our eventual birth mom was pressured in any way, you know? Or that my own birth mom was pressured. I think I might be a little too hyper sensitive about it. Thanks for the reality check.

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