Not Reality, Scripted

There were a bunch of adoptee reunion programs on TV in the 1990s. I think seeing these really made my adoptee mom wish for a reunion of her own. It was not to be. Even as Tennessee was turning down her request for her adoption file, they broke her heart by telling her that her mother has died several years earlier.

As today’s story reveals, you really can’t believe what you see on these programs.

In early 2020 pre-COVID, I was contacted by a TV producer asking if I would be interested in being on a show. I won’t give the name, but it’s a show about finding lost family members. I immediately knew it was probably about my bio mom or dad.

I agreed, a little out of curiosity, but mostly because they offered me $4000 to be on the show and an all-expenses paid vacation to LA for filming.

Sure enough, it was my mother. She put forth this sob story. She was 15 (which I already knew) and that she felt like she had to give me up, in order to escape shame and disownment from friends and family. Also that her boyfriend pushed her to do it. She said, she always wanted to find me – blah blah blah. I felt completely awkward doing this around cameras.

I found out that ALL reality shows, even the feel-good ones, are SUPER scripted, and the producers kept trying to feed me lines to say, like “I’ve waited for this moment all my life.” At this time in my life, I really couldn’t care less about finding my biological family and had negative feelings about my firth mom, so I don’t think I played the “grateful daughter” role that they wanted. Anyways, the show ends and I go back to my life. I got my biological mom’s info and we text a few times a year.

I was just notified that the show will be airing in the summer, and I have had a lot of anxiety over it. I cannot shake the feeling that none of this was necessary and that it was all for show, and that my biological mom did this to give the world an emotional story to make herself feel better.

There was absolutely NO reason she needed to go on national television to find me. For one, I have researched, and closed adoption files can be accessed by the biological mother, if she goes through the proper steps. She could’ve found my adoptive parent’s information and gone from there. It’s also literally 2022 (actually it was 2020 at the time but still).

Everyone is taking Ancestry DNA tests. She could’ve spent 60 bucks to get a 23 and Me test and found out that I’m already in the data base. I just feel like she completely went to the extremes to do this and put our personal business out there for the world. What if I am portrayed as being an ungrateful bitch or something ?Or future employers search for my name and find the episode!!

One commenter noted – I hear you on the “reality” shows. I also did a pilot many years ago in which they wanted me to react a certain way, so did my daughter. Basically they’re all fake (not real at all). As for the biological mom, everyone is different in how they come to the decision, and what they do with it. She could’ve been looking for her 15 min of fame, or possibly she did feel so pressured and now finally felt like it was time to stand up to those who pressured her. 

And yet another added – or she wanted the money.

Why Is Adoption So Common Here ?

It’s a known fact that other countries have very few adoptions annually. Some as few as 100-300. This is vastly lower than the US obviously. One of the main contributing factors is the better social programs in those countries.  We don’t have that in the US.  Other countries focus on helping families stay together.

I do believe that if we provided families with what they needed, like some of these other countries do, the percentage of parents losing their children would be significantly lower.  Domestic infant adoption would basically cease to exist.

What needs to change for there to be fewer adoptions overall ?

Some thoughts in answer to that question . . .

Universal healthcare and an adequate minimum wage.  Readily available, affordable childcare for working families.  Both generous paid maternity and paternity leave. Paid vacation time which allows for families to create happy memories (I had that in my 50s and 60s era childhood). A good educational system.  Just the basic stuff I grew up believing this country provided (even if it wasn’t actually the truth, which I now understand in maturity).

I do believe that if we actually supported families, the adoption rate might drop 80%.  I do believe the vast majority of adoptions are caused by poverty or I would imagine if we actually supported all moms, it would reduce it by at least 80%. I do believe the vast majority of adoptions are caused by poverty or religion based coercion utilizing shame to get young women to give up their child.

The nature of capitalism is such, that society won’t do these things to keep families thriving.  It isn’t that we can’t, if the tax structures were in place to raise taxes on the wealthy.  Many people in our society have bought the Republican line about Trickle Down Economics.  The belief that if we help the 1% have more, they will help the rest of us do better too. That has never proven a reality – plain and simple.

Until we as a society decide that every citizen is worthy of a good quality of life, broken families will continue to be way too common.

Case in point – Australia.  They don’t have an exorbitant income tax, but they do have universal health care, subsidized childcare, parental leave, sick leave, a minimum wage etc. Support payments are available to family members who take on caring roles. So do the UK and New Zealand.

If one looks at the number of children adopted each year in Australia, the number is about 300.  That’s ALL children who are adopted from infants to teens. They do not have an adoption “market” (yes, it is a BIG $$$ business in the US).  Taxes in Australia may be higher than in the US but they know that they are getting plenty of services in return.

Sadly, the problem here in the US is entrenched inequality and cultural bigotry.  Many countries outside of the US have much better social programs – most EU countries, Canada, Switzerland and Australia.  Knowing this, it is pretty amazing that this country won’t do better.  We are the richest nation in the world, but most of our money goes into the pockets of our richest citizens.  America is the country with the most billionaires in the world.

It is way past time for a change. That change requires accessible, affordable family planning (birth control and terminations), no private for profit adoption agencies and an end to the manipulation and coercion (Christian) of expectant mothers.

Sadly, adoption has become so ingrained in the American worldview as a means to getting a child that our society is hostile to the idea of children staying with who they were born to. It is all about who has money and who doesn’t.  Anyone with the financial means who wants a child is basically able to, in effect, buy one from someone who doesn’t have the financial means to help their family stay together.  Money is the driver of the for profit adoption complex. Sadly, given all I have shared above, I don’t see any of it changing any time soon.  I wish I could be more optimistic about it.