Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Relevent TV

Well, relevent to adoption issues anyway. There is no secret that I watch TV that is not really marketed to my demographic category. It isn't really that I care what age box I check off on surveys, it is just that I like really like shows that are geared toward teens and younger adults. I have always joked that I am just a little immature. My wife says I have a case of arrested development. Whatever.

One of my favorite shows is the new 90210. I think I mentioned this once before but it has been interesting to watch how they have handled some issues that are pertinent to adoptees and their families.

There is the teenaged son, a handsome young black man, who was adopted by white parents and has a white sister now. The brother and sister are close, but he shares concerns when they move about having to share the whole adoption story again when people don't understand their family. He yearns for connections with other black people and finds a way for that to happen. Most happily for me, a white parent of children of color, Dixon's character seems to learn to move confidently in both black and white realms. He isn't an "oreo." I work really hard to make sure that my kids won't be viewed that way either or to feel disconnected from their heritage.

There is a pregnant young teen. She feels she has to put her baby up for adoption because of her age and the lack of family support in her life. This week she interviewed a prospective family and it was a scene that made me cry. Her pain was so present, the eager excitement of the prospective adoptive family were also clearly evident. I wondered as I watched it, how my children's first mothers are. If they are happy, if they know how very much I love our children.

There was a powerful episode with a young girl's battle with mental illness as the main story line. She also happens to be the girlfriend of Dixon. Her increasingly erratic behavior and her need to control him once she decides she is in love with him drives him away from her. Faced with losing the first great love in her life, the mental health issue becomes a crisis and she spirals out of control. There was a lot of honesty in that episode. Dixon was angry with her and didn't want to be involved in trying to find her and help her. It didn't occur to him until things were nearly done that he knew what was wrong with his girlfriend. She wasn't on drugs the way all the adults thought. She had bipolar disorder and he remembered the signs from his first mother. He talked with his sister about what it had been like being with his first mother and her illness, and what made him realize what was happening to his girl friend. He realizes as he talks why he was angry and not the concerned loving boyfriend at first. I thought a lot about the first mother of one of my children who I suspect suffered from mental illness. I wonder what kind of supports might have helped her and allowed her to keep her family intact. And I know that I would not have a boy I love deeply had that happened. I also know it would have been the best option and should have been a priority. I know the impression of other family members is that this is not what happened and I suspect there is some truth in that.

There isn't really a huge point to this. Obviously those of us in the world of adoption are aware of these issues. Many, if not most of us, not only work on these issues, but educate ourselves, our families, and the people who are involved with our children's lives. I guess what I like about the show is that it plants a seed of thought in the context of watchable TV. In a society that gets its news from soundbites as a general rule, I think that is a helpful thing.

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