Taken At Birth

We do not have commercial TV or streaming service in my home, so I have not seen this series, though I know this is what happens.  Today, I read a rational question about adoptions – I don’t know why after this, birth certificates don’t have a place for natural parents and adoptive parents on them? Doesn’t make sense why we haven’t evolved our legal system to preserve people’s identities.

At least that.  Better yet – no false identities.  No falsified birth certificates.  No loss of genetic connection, which is what I think this person’s comment indicates.  Can there not be a “new” kind of birth registration that acknowledges the reality ?

TLC shares this about their series – In 1997 a shocking story made headlines. Thomas Hicks, a small town Georgia doctor, illegally sold more than 200 babies from the back door of his clinic. Jane Blasio has been trying to uncover the mysteries of the Hicks clinic for over 30 years. She is joined by Lisa Joyner and Chris Jacobs as they try to bring closure to those stolen babies desperately searching for their true identities and birth families.

In fact, the ’90s were a time for shocking revelations about adoption as Georgia Tann’s scandal from the 1920s to 1950s re-emerged in the national consciousness.  And by late in that decade, sealed adoption records became accessible in some cases such as in Tennessee for Tann’s victims.  In 2017, that allowed me to obtain my mother’s adoption file, though it had been denied her in the early 1990s, she never learned that she could have gotten this file while she was yet alive.  It is a sadness because she would have seen a photo of her mother and learned alot about the true circumstances of her adoption.

The comment I shared above had some more thoughts.  “I was shocked at the empathy and benefit of the doubt given to the Adoptive Parents. I think I would consider them kidnappers if I was coming in from the outside to help track down the truth. It definitely showed me more of what Hopeful Adoptive Parents will do when they are desperate for a child.  I also am just heartbroken for these families and the adoptees. Felt like in episode 2, you finally get to hear a testimony of just how devastating this is for them.”

The only good thing I can say about this increasing awareness is that it is a good thing.  Reforms and changes are likely to be encouraged as more people learn the truth about the impacts of separating babies from their natural mothers.

This Is Us

First, a disclaimer.  We don’t watch commercial TV in my home and I’ve never watched this show.  What I do know is that it attracts the attention of a lot of adoptees and former foster care adults.  Clearly, from the image above there is also an issue of transracial adoption.

For anyone somehow connected to adoption or child welfare, such viewers are likely to watch this show through a different lens. There are pebbles of accuracy surrounding adoption, foster care and birth parent reunions in the series as it unfolds from week to week. It is well not to forget that this is still a dramatic television show, which is never able to give anyone a fully realistic picture of what it’s like to be adopted or reunited with your birth father. But it’s definitely been judged one of the closest mainstream shows to attempt this issues.

The show’s writers are judged to have done their research and consulted with adult adoptees with the hope of accurately portraying not only aspects of transracial adoption, but also search and reunion, identity and trauma.

The truth is that each adoptee has a unique perception, opinion and view of their adoption experience — and that those very perceptions, opinions and views may change on a yearly, daily and at times hourly basis! But overall, the “feeling” of adoption as portrayed in mainstream culture is usually one of goodness, happiness and “rainbows and unicorns.”

In “This is Us,” we are introduced to a different side — the trauma and loss side — of adoption and foster care. We feel the push/pull of how an adoptee struggles with their feelings toward their birth parents. The writers painfully convey the angst that Randall feels when he discovers his adoptive mother knew from the time he was an infant who his biological father was — yet kept it a secret.

We see young Randall in a grocery store asking random adults to curl their tongues because he has learned this trait is hereditary and wonders if any of them — because they are Black — might be related to him. As he battles with forming his identity, he also carries a little notebook where he documents his encounters with people of color.  In current time, we see Randall deal with panic attacks and his need for perfection and control. He is paralyzed by his own fears and the unknown.

As an adult, Randall and his wife, Beth, decide to become foster parents. They begin fostering an older girl and the writers introduce trauma triggers of abuse as well as the child’s deep connection with her mother. We sense Randall’s internal battle between wanting to protect his foster daughter while at the same time empathizing with her mother and the struggles she has experienced.

This show is recommended for adoptive and foster parents, especially those parenting children of color. This show would be appropriate for teenagers to watch, but it does have adult storylines and content.