Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reactions to "Find My Family?"

Before it aired, I posted about one adoptee/adoptive parent reaction to "Find My Family," ABC's reality show about adoption search and reunion. I had to teach Monday, so didn't get to see the show. Entertainment Weekly says 12.9 million people viewed the show, and called those "solid numbers." Here's a roundup of some reactions from the adoption blogosphere:

Adoptee Susan, in an entertaining post at ReadingWritingLiving, says:
As I was watching the show I kept asking (out loud) the question, “Is this exploitive? Is it bad? WHO is being exploited here?”

I decided to look up the definition of that explosive word.

Exploitive: unfairly or cynically using another person or group for profit or advantage

Well, profit and advantage, definitely. They want their ratings. But is it UNFAIR? Is
it CYNICAL? Hm. I don’t know about that.

I’ll tell you what’s UNFAIR. It’s UNFAIR that a show like this is even feasible in the FIRST place, because if ADULTS had access to their OWN birth records, it’s unlikely that these decade-long dramas would be playing out like this. It wouldn’t hold the enormous charge and people wouldn’t have to be paying agents and investigators for
fruitless searches.

* * *

That’s it, I think. For now. But my opinion is that while the show is cheesy, melodramatic and emotionally manipulative, it also showed some real truths. It was hosted by real adoptees. The people seemed stable and reasonable, for the most part. And their journey is just beginning.
At Birth Mother, First Mother Forum, Lorraine says:

Find My Family on ABC hit it out of the ball park last night with their half-hour reunion show. Yep, it milked the strong emotions that surround the reunion of first/original/birth/genetic/biological parents with their offspring. Yep, I got glassy eyed, and so did the co-host, Tim Green, who met with the birth parents, Sandy and Scott Steinpas, and told them their daughter had been found. "I've waited so long for this," says the mother, Sandy. "I was sure I would always look for my daughter."
Birth mother FauxClaud at Musings of the Lame says:
Birthmothers and Adoption TV=Not Fun
As a birthmother, I find it is like walking through a land mine; carefully place my foot down on the next step, only to find myself blown sky high, or hellish low, when they hit an emotional trigger. Still, when I read up on it on the ABC website, I didn't get that completely awful feeling. The whole mission of the show besides ratings, is to bring families back together, they claim on the website. I can get behind that..

Watching ABC's Find My Family
Channel 7; 9:30 pm: I pull myself away from the computer and sit down to watch. It has that cheesy reality show feel that Extreme Makeover Home Edition does; very dramatic and simplified. Yes, everyone is on their best behavior and say "all the right things"; the view is, at least, shining a sympathetic light on the now married birthmother and birthfather.

* * *

And that's what I want you to try to take away from this new show. I honestly hope that it does well and stays on the air because if it does, and it portrays adoption searches and reunions in a continual positive light, and it is respectful and loving, albeit in a make me cringe a bit way, then what we have is a mass media vehicle that can have the power to make middle America sympathetic to the idea of adoption reunions.
So did you see it? What was your reaction? I'd especially like to hear from adoptive parents who watched and liked the show (since the only adoptive parent reactions I've heard were pre-viewing and negative).


JBH said...

I knew I could count on you to post about this show!:-) I was not able to watch it - but plan to do so online soon.

My "beef" with the show starts in the description:
"Each episode is full of moving moments and tears of joy, when mothers, fathers, daughters and sons who lost touch for decades are reunited...When a family is reunited, they all meet at the Find My Family “Family Tree.”

So what about the dead-end searches? Or ones that do NOT lead to a "happy reunion"? Only showing the joyful side perpetuates the utopian side, when not all search stories end up with a happily-ever-after.

And meeting at the "Family Tree"? Oh, please. That is a cheesy, outdated metaphor at best.

So, as you can see - I will be watching the program online with a bit of caution and skepticism...

atlasien said...

I responded here.

Anonymous said...

As an adoptive parent, I was concerned about how this show would portray adoptive families. My concern was that they may lessen the value/importance of the adoptive families to the adoptee because the promos for this show seemed to indicate that all adoptees want and need to be reunited with "their families" as if the adoptive family is not their family. I was happy to see that from the very beginning the host pointed out that as an adoptee, he would always love his adoptive parents because they were the ones who raised him and they were his parents and I think the adoptee who was featured in the show as well as the bio parents did a good job of making a point that the adoptive parents are the adoptees parents.

My daughter is too young now to understand any of this, but it made me think about the feelings or thoughts she may have as she gets older and the feelings or thoughts her bio parents may have experienced in giving her up.

I did think the "Family Tree" was a bit much and I do hope that the show shows that not all reunions are wanted or happy. Only time will tell if this show will be worth watching, but truthfully, I was pleasantly surprised at how the first episode was handled.

Dawn said...

I didn't see it and am not likely to because for one I just don't have time to watch much television and for two reality tv is my least favorite kind. So it's not the adoption topic so much as those other two things. But I'm not sure how it's different than reunion talk shows and stuff except for the prime time. I could care how they portray adoptive families though since this particular story isn't about adoptive families. We're important backstory but just backstory.

Sheri said...

I just watched the episode on hulu.com. Was teary eyed throughout. Overall I'd rate it as fairly well done - for these two families and the daughter they share. Having the birth family meet at "the Family Tree" (which isn't in Wisconsin) was idiotic, tho. As were the repeated enjoinders to "Find Your Family". From the opening commentary and the photo montage of future episodes, it does seem that they'll be focusing on the "happy ending" type of reunions. I give this first episode a "B".

Anonymous said...

I watched the show and I liked it, even with all the cheesy moments, like the family tree. Yes, I teared up as well. What was interesting was my 6 year old, adopted from China, who wants nothing to do with anything Chinese, who never wants to talk about China or her birth family despite my trying to give her openings....well, she crawled up next to me and watched the show and didn't say a word (she is usually VERY talkative.) I wasn't planning on her watching the show; I actually thought she was probably too young to understand it. But she walked into my bedroom right when the show started ans asked what I was watching. I gave a brief description and she choose to sit and watch it with me. At that point, I wasn't going to make a big deal and ask her to leave the room. But I do wonder what was going on in that little 6 year old brain.

Mei-Ling said...

"he would always love his adoptive parents because they were the ones who raised him and they were his parents"

Anything that highlights birth families should automatically require a disclaimer that the adoptive families are the most loving ones, or something?

Why is a disclaimer always needed to "protect" people?

I mean, I can understand perhaps do it for the politically cautious people, but it shouldn't be necessarily to have to say "I want to search for my other mother, but you will always be my true -mom-."

Okay, adoptive parents are human; they have feelings and emotions too. But why does it always seem they have to come first?

That puts the role of caretaker onto the child, IMO. This is also covered in the anthology "Outsiders Within."

If the relationship between the adoptive parent & child is secure and loving enough... shouldn't the search be able to occur without the standard disclaimers?

Mei-Ling said...

Er, Malinda... could you please correct the following:

"I mean, I can understand perhaps do it for the politically cautious people, but it shouldn't be necessarily to have to say "I want to search for my other mother, but you will always be my true -mom-.""


"I mean, I can understand perhaps doing it for the politically cautious crowd, but it shouldn't be necessary to have to say "I want to search for my other mother, but you will always be my true -mom-." "

And please remove this extra comment. Sorry, my fingers just aren't connecting with my brain tonight.