We were aghast, those of us living in (or hoping to live in) open adoptions, at what The Today Show experts said about open adoption last month.
Lisa Ling, a journalist I have long respected, will soon tackle the same topic on the Oprah Winfrey Network in her series, Our America with Lisa Ling.
Or maybe she already has. I haven’t been able to find information on the actual show,* but Deleted Scenes from an episode called “Open Adoption” is readily available (3½ minutes).
I am impressed right off the bat because unlike The Today Show, Lisa Ling finds and asks people who have actual experience with open adoption.
Deleted Scenes features an adoption constellation that includes Sophie, a teen mom who has placed, her mother, Lisa, and Katie and Ben, baby Theo’s adoptive parents. I pulled some quotes:
- “Open adoption is not as scary as people think.” — Sophie
- “Today, this is how most adoptions work. Ninety percent of them are open.” — Lisa Ling
- “It’s very clear who the parents are. We are the parents. But it’s equally important that our children know where they come from.” — Ben, Theo’s adoptive dad
- “When kids grow up they start asking questions with answers that can’t be worked out ahead of time.” — Lisa Ling. The report acknowledges that Theo will grow up and participate in his own adoption.
I did notice that a few of the statements presented are only partly or situationally correct.
- “You have the right to be able to choose how often you see him.” Sophie says this, and it may be true for her, but “rights” are not defined and protected in all states. Parties entering into an open adoption agreement are certainly able to come up with their own terms, but in many cases the first parents’ rights to make decisions are terminated when their parental rights are. Honoring the agreement is then up to the adopting parents, sometimes with the backing of the court and sometimes not.
- “Before papers are signed, families agree on a visitation schedule, which guarantees the bio parents the right to see their child.” Lisa Ling states this in a voiceover, which is true up to the word “guarantee.”
Deleted Scenes shows adoption in a favorable light, even as it touches on some of the pain:
- “For a mother to give up her child is very, very unnatural and is a pain process, deeply…something [Sophie] may not even be able to understand at the age of 16.” — Lisa, Theo’s birth grandmother
Is the piece balanced? As I watched, I imagined how it would strike some of my first parent or adoptee friends, balance being in the eye of the beholder.
What do you think of Deleted Scenes? Does it make you want to watch the actual episode?
Lisa Ling closes Deleted Scenes with this notion: “Although complex at times, this new definition of family feels natural.”
UPDATED: AmFam says below that these deleted scenes are from a recently-aired episode about teen mothers. I found a 5-minute excerpt called Teen Mom Nation.