Media is obsessed with adoption stories. Really, obsessed.
So many stories have either an adoption plot or at least a side bar that draws in adoption. And that would be OK—if they could get it right. The problem is they rarely do.
Most adoption storylines inevitably take a surreal, overly dramatic and mostly negative twist. The result: Anyone actually touched by adoption ends up thinking, "What the heck?!"
The latest is a soon-to-be launched Lifetime movie starring Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig. The title alone is awful: “Deadly Adoption.” Really?
The trailer depicts a wonderful family and a beautiful expectant mom. Cut to a scene where Wiig receives the call telling her, “She has chosen you to be the family for her baby.” OK—I’m with you.
But here’s where it goes off the rails. The expectant mother seems to have not only chosen to place her unborn child with Wiig and Ferrell, she seems to be living with them, too. Not so probable, but a clear set up to the main action of the film.
Next scene, Dad, played by Ferrell, is caring a bit too much for the expectant mom, whom the trailer insinuates is trying to solicit this type of attention. Insert dramatic scene of the expectant mother ripping the adoptive mom out of a picture, followed by scary scenes involving the expectant mother lurking in the background of private moments and then looking like she is about to gun down someone. Yikes.
Part of me wants to say, “OK, whatever. This is Hollywood, after all. They create fanciful stories for a living."
But what’s insidious here is that it plays on society’s ignorance about open adoption and twists it into something horrible. It takes the empowering aspect of a birth mom choosing the family and the family connecting with the birth mom to a sinister extreme. It also gives personification to society's stereotypes of birth mothers as being a threat to adoptive families.
It’s hard enough to explain the realities of adoption to the uninformed. We don't need cheap "Fatal Attraction" ripoffs to play into the disinformation. And if it’s hard for adults to separate fact from fiction, can you imagine how a child will react?
My advice? Just say no to “Deadly Adoption.” If, perchance, your child runs across the trailer, use it as a chance to check in with them on the topic. How does seeing that make them feel? Then honestly share your reactions. Finally, remind them that fanciful things happen in the movies all the time. We all know adoptions don’t work like that. (Right? @LifetimeTV, Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig?)
Join us in voicing your disapproval. Social media is a great platform for this. Share away.
Update: June 18, 2015: So apparently, the movie is supposed to be a spoof - a rip on the type of sappy, predictable movies Lifetime has been famous for over the years. So what the trailor depicts as drama will instead by comic. Whatever....Still misguided, @LifetimeTV.