Monday, November 23, 2009

"Find My Family"

I was recently watching TV with my girls, and a preview for “Find My Family” came on. This new show premiers tonight on ABC. They sat mesmerized as birthparents and adoptees were reunited. So many thoughts came into my head, but the first was so sad that a day like that would never be able to happen for them if they wanted it and then I felt sad for the people who had been filmed. To me, this event should be private and not be made into reality TV. I looked at my girls, wondering what they were thinking. When it was over, I asked them how the show made them feel, and they both answered “Good!”

With the enthusiasm that I heard from my girls, I now wonder if this is a show they should watch – my girls are 9 and 11. I wondered if this kind of a show would promote good birthparent discussions or if this show would cause them more pain. Martha Osborne from “Rainbow Kids” had a great commentary on her website about this show.

Her first point was based on the show’s tagline. “With the tagline Some people have spent their whole lives searching for the one thing that matters most... Their wish will now come true. Let's find your family, producers completely discount any worth of the adoptive families who have loved and raised these children. Instead the show emphasizes the loss of a child's ‘real family' as the one-and-only central issue of all adopted children's lives.”

She goes further to say that, “Unfortunately, the general public's opinion and understanding of adoption is largely shaped by the media. ABC's exploitive new series will focus on the most extreme issues in adoption, and is sure to have an effect on how our children's teachers, extended family, and friends view and accept adoption.”

In her article, she writes that younger children should not watch this show because it focuses on adult emotions, but that parents should empower their children by using the Wise Up! Workbook . For upper elementary school and middle school, she advises some discussions with children around birthparents and identity, media and marketing of ideas, their feelings around these issues, and how others may start asking them intrusive questions because of this show and how to handle them.

Have you see the previews for this show? What are your thoughts about letting your kids watch it? What will you do to prepare your kids? If your children are older, even if they don’t watch this show, are you going to be proactive in preparing them in how to deal with possible questions as this show becomes publicly known?

Karen Maunu


  1. Like you, I will not be watching, and certainly won't be allowing my children to watch either. I believe it's every child's right to try to find their own answers, but it's a fiercely private matter, not a place for the media.
    And I agree, the tone they are setting is that these people's lives are worthless if they don't find their 'family'... what a tragic and potentially harmful perspective to be putting out on national TV.

  2. No one in my family will be watching this show. The idea of sensationalizing this topic to gather ratings is very sad to me. As Stephanie stated, this is such a private matter and the thoughts and feelings associated with finding birth families and/or connections is unique to each child. I am truly disappointed that the creators of Exteme Home Makeover have chosen to present the public with this new show.

  3. Thank you so much for educating me about this show before it comes on. I must live in a box because I haven't heard about it. Now that I have thought through your insight I'll gladly go back to my box... and won't even set the DVR to record! ;> God's blessings on your Monday, Sarah :D

  4. While I agree that a reality show is not the format for adoptive searches, we need to be careful not to condemn the desires of either the biological family or the adoptee. Many, many adoptees have gone to great extremes and great expense to try to re-connect with their biological families due to the effect this missing piece has on their lives. Many biological parents have made decisions in the context of youth, family, cultural and governmental influences that they later regret.

    I think what most object to in the framing of this show is the lack of recognition of the adoptive family. If the adoptive community responds reasonably, perhaps the show's creators will make an effort to clarify the tagline and honor the adoptive families, while still supporting the adoptee and the biological families. For adoptive families, this can be an opportunity for us to support our children by having open dialog about how THEY feel and deal with what is important to our own children.

    It is an adoption TRIad, regardless of whether each member of the triad participates voluntarily. A three legged stool is the most stable. For the stability of our children we need to support this triad whenever possible.

  5. My family, in particular, my children, will NOT be watching this show. Has it not sunk in with people what reality shows are doing to families? Just look at John & K*ate...the Osb*rnes...their lives have turned upside down for the world to see and gossip! As parents, we can not allow the media to shape our children's view of the world, or their lives. That's our job as parents, and there is no way my children will be "taught" about adoption by the media. They need the truth, the reality, and a whole lot of love and guidance behind that.

  6. I agree that something like this is highly personal, but if it brings closure for some, isn't that in some way good for those involved? It appears that in some of the discussions on the show's site, there have been some positives for birth mothers. I haven't watched an episode, so I don't know how editing portrays the parties involved, but I can see where it could be awkward for some.
    I find it interesting how some commenters are blasting the show for bring private matters into the public light - yet when I click your profile I am taken to your public blog about your adoption process. While the viewerships might differ greatly, both are in the public view.