Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Find My Family

Did any of you see this show on ABC? I believe it was on last night. I read about it at another site and just went and watched the first episode online here. Find My Family is a show that reunites adoptive and birth families. The hosts of the show are both adopted so they are sensitive to the feelings of all involved.

I thought the show was well done and not as sensationalized as I thought it might be. The first episode reunited a couple with their 29 year old daughter. This couple was high school sweethearts when they became pregnant. They decided to play her for adoption and when she turned 18 they started searching for her. They turned to this show to help them out as they kept finding dead-ends in their search. The show was able to track her down and it turns out she grew up only 8 miles away.

I found myself in tears the entire show. I am an adoptive parent so I feel like I have something in common with the show, but even if I wasn't I'd still be bawling my eyes out. While the circumstances of each adoption are unique there are lots of common themes and feelings. I look forward to watching this show and learning more about adoption and feelings surrounding it. I might get little tidbits of insight that will help me to answer questions that my daughter might ask as she gets older.

I read some discussion online that pointed out that the adoptive family was not shown much in this episode. I have 2 thoughts on that. Maybe this family didn't want to be shown much. Also the show was only 1/2 hour so there wasn't really a lot of time to cover things. I would like to see a longer show that covers more family dynamics and feelings. I think that adoption is misunderstood by the common public and I hope this show helps to bring understanding to all.

Find My Family airs on Monday nights on ABC at 9:30/8:30 CST. The feelings/discussions/etc are very heavy, therefore not appropriate for children.

Diana is a crafty creative Midwestern work from home mama of 3. She enjoys playing with PhotoShop Elements, sewing & crafting, creating fun for family & friends, camping, and reading. She is the owner & operator of Custom Blog Designs.

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  1. Wow that is an amazing story! I haven't seen that show but I might have to check it out.

  2. Thanks for the review I was unsure if I wanted to watch it but now I might check it out.

  3. As someone who has worked with adopted children on resolving their identity issues, I'm aware of the different opinions adoptees and their parents (yes, I mean their adoptive parents) have about issues like this.

    So I was curious to see the internet reaction to the show from adoptees and their parents. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    Some things in the show made me uncomfortable. It bugged me to no end that the female host said that she knows exactly how Jenny feels. No one knows exactly how another person feels! It would have been more sensitive (and true!) to say, "As an adoptee, I can relate to some of the feelings you're expressing." The family tree thing was so utterly cheesy, unnecessary, and stupid. I also think they should have broken the news to Jenny off camera. I understand the desire for drama, but it would have been much more sensitive and just as dramatic: We found your birth daughter and told her. Does she want to meet you? What does she look like? Find out after the next commercial break!

    That said, overall I liked it. I too wondered why they didn't show Jenny's parents much but then figured that it might have been because they didn't want to go on camera. They do show some footage, and Jenny introduces them as her mom and dad. Her birth parents can't ever replace her parents. And the first thing the birth parents say is thank you for raising her so well.

    The kids I worked with are internationally adopted and thus really have no way of knowing their origins, and it's caused them mental distress. The ones with the greatest distress, in my experience, are those with insecure parents who make them feel guilty for wondering about their origins. Jenny's parents made it clear to her that they didn't feel threatened if she wondered about her origins, and, I believe, that contributed to her being able to meet her birth parents without feeling guilty about it.

    I don't know whether watching this show would make them feel good to see other people so happy, or feel distressed because they'll never get those answers. Probably depends on the adoptee.

    But overall, I liked it.

  4. Btw, sort of off-topic, but am I the only one troubled by the term "biological parents" to refer to birth/genetic parents? Parents of adoptees are just as influential in the biological development of their children!

    They're the ones that feed them, take them to the doctor, etc.

    I prefer the term genetic parents or birth parents much more.

  5. FL~ Thank you for your insights. I am not bothered by the term biological parents at all. I am not adopted, but I have referred to my mother as my biological mother as to differentiate her from my stepmom who raised me. I have also referred to my boys as my biological children. But as you pointed out, every will have their own level of comfort with different terms and situations.

    I was a little bothered by the term 'given up' for adoption. I know that placed for adoption is more PC~ but the intentions were well.

    As far as putting Jenny on the spot, I thought of that too but she did volunteer to be on this show. BUT that doesn't mean she will know how she will react.

  6. Thanks for your response to my comment, Diana. The show has re-piqued my interest in working with adoptees, something I stopped a few years ago when I moved to another area and took another job. The adoption community is split on the correct terminology. Some say it should be "made an adoption plan" but others don't like it because not all adoptees' birth parents made an adoption plan. It would apply for open and semi-open adoptions though. Some adoptees said they shouldn't sugar-coat it with PC terms and prefer "gave up". Personally, I like "placed for adoption" best. It may not describe some situations in which a child is abandoned at a police station, as some of the children I worked with are, but even in those cases, most of the time the parents placed them there because they knew the police would find them and place them for adoption. Jenny personally used the term "gave up" so I don't have a problem with them using that term in her case. But if another adoptee prefers another term, then they should definitely abide by that adoptee's wishes.

    I talked with the father of a child I worked with, a girl who was adopted from rural China. He said he has mixed feelings. He wants his daughter to know that it's not that her birth parents didn't care about her. In fact, it's more than likely that they placed her at the police station precisely because they cared about her so much. The Steinpas's illustrate such birth parents.

    But he is concerned about adoptees getting unrealistic expectations about birth parents. In this case, the birth parents had gotten married to each other and are still married, raised three kids, earn honest livings, and still care about her. How nice it would be if all adoptees looking for their birth parents could find out the same. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen for most of them.

    I rewatched the show, and it says that they contacted Jenny's parents to verify that her birth name was indeed the one the Steinpas's gave her, so they knew they had the right child. So Jenny probably had a heads up from her parents that the TV crew was going to tell her something about her birth parents. Jenny also said that her father encouraged her to look for her birth parents should she feel a need to fill that knowledge gap.

    So it sounds like it wasn't as intrusive as it may have appeared on first glance.

    I wonder, what if Jenny said I want to meet them, but I won't go on camera for it. Would ABC have withheld that information as emotional blackmail? I sure hope not, or maybe they could have compromised by filming it but blurring out her face or only showing her back, but I don't hold it beyond the media to emotionally blackmail someone like that.


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