As part of its #AllTogetherNow campaign, Kohl’s features 19 year-old Raymond and his reunion with his birth mom after 17 years apart. Raymond finds he has a sister, born exactly 10 years after he was.
(click here to see the 3 minute story.)
Pick a side, Raymond.
Within weeks after the video was released on YouTube, there were 148 comments and counting [the video and its comments have since been taken down]. A common theme among many of them originates in the Either/Or mindset of the closed adoption era. Either she is your real mom or the other woman is. Which part of yourself will you embrace, Raymond, and which part will you deny?
- “I hate this add [sic]. The importance he puts on his biological family is a slap in the face of the people who raised him.”
- “If I had to choose between the parents who gave me up and the ones who loved and raised me all my life, I would have my holidays with them, and never make my adoptive parents feel at all insecure.”
- “This video [is] insulting to adoptive parents. Happy he found his birth mom and all that but his real mother is the adoptive mother. The language/script is hurtful.”
- “Seems a little insensitive to the adoptive parents. I think it would have been a lot better if the adoptive parents had been featured somewhere.”
- “This video is bullsh!t. He insulted his mom, the woman who raised him and clothed and fed him. The woman he met was not his mom, she was his biological mother. She did nothing for him yet he dares to give her the name mom when he already has a mom who cared for him. This video insults those who adopt children who given up. Hell he insulted his entire family by saying that woman and his half sister is his family.”
I understand why some of the commenters would be hurt, insulted that the adoptive parents were mentioned only once in the 3 minute video. I might have felt that way at the beginning of my journey, too. If all you know is closedness, if that’s what you grow up thinking was “the” way, you may be limited in understanding the effect of closedness on the adoptee.
Such comments reveal perhaps one of the most devastating vestiges of the closed adoption era: the Either/Or notion that demands an adopted person to deny either his biology or his biography. Unlike the non-adopted, an adoptee is not permitted to have both. One or the other, please. We command this of you.
Restrictive or Expansive?
Openness in adoption, however, is expansive. There’s a bigness to it. It enables and encourages the adopted person to embrace both sets of parents — those of biology and those of biography. Openness allows that love multiples rather than divides — and with openness, the adoptee can claim all.
Raymond, I and many others, can see that your heart is so big as to encompass all who contribute to you becoming who you are.
I find the video heartwarming, as presumably Kohl’s hoped viewers would. Who doesn’t like a good lost-and-found story, a reconnection of that which was once believed lost? These commenters do:
- “I’m glad he got to meet his bio-mom and bio-sister. Everyone wants to know where their roots are.♡”
- “I am adopted, and watching this video, I seriously wanted to cry, cause I have wanted to know who my parents were. I understand that yes my adoptive mom loves me, and she takes care of me. But I would like to know who my birth mom is, so I can see who I am, kind of weird, like physical traits, and maybe some Character traits. And I don’t find this video insulting, I find it as hope for me to find my birth parents”
- “I hope you know how happy I am, as an adoptive mama, for you that you have the chance to bring MORE love into your life with MORE family.”
More on Commercials & Adoption:
Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a young adult daughter, writes from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.
Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.