Before The Child and I watched the television show This is Us friends warned me about letting her see it.
The majority felt I should preview the series prior to letting her watch.
I wonder if it will be triggering for her? some asked. I bet it will make her think about her birth mother. That might make her sad. others suggested.
In fact, after the fall-finale, we both concluded This is Us should be mandatory viewing for everyone.
If it were, The Child stated, I’d be asked fewer questions by people and they’d just “get” adoption better in general.
Adoption is beautiful & devastating. A gift & profound loss.
Around here this idea came as no surprise. I’ve shared our adoption story. With her permission I’ve shared some of my daughter’s thoughts around adoption. In essence, I’ve shared nothing at all. Only the surface stuffs. The heartbreaking late night chats she and I have? The story of the why behind her being given up (released? we don’t fret about semantics here)? These deeper level stuffs remain private.
Adoption is unbelievably hard for a child to grasp. In addition to it being glamorized at times (ala Annie & Daddy Warbucks. ‘We were destined be together’ type themes) when humans/media do focus on what the adopted child authentically feels it’s all too easy to ‘forget’ about birth parents.
As a society we’re slowly recognizing adoption shapes a child’s entire life-journey, yet must now acknowledge it concurrently impacts birth parents’ lives in a powerful way.
This is Us offers unique insight into the birth parent experience and provides a launching pad for discussion in our home. Unlike many ‘cleansed for TV’ stories of adoption we witness a birth father’s (uncommon given traditional focus on birth mothers) internal conflict with guilt/regret over relinquishing his son.
Judgement surrounding whether adoption was the “right” choice isn’t the emphasis here. We, the viewer, are simply afforded an opportunity to watch as a birth father cannot resist challenging himself with the question: What if?
Adopted children are curious…even if they aren’t asking.
A child can have absolutely everything she wants/needs and still she’ll wonder.
Wonder about birth parents. Wonder about sibling or relatives from family of origin. Wonder about shared mannerisms or traits with her ‘real’ family.
This is Us shows viewers a happy, secure home where an adopted child has everything he could want emotionally/materially…and still feels a void. As viewer we see no matter how much stuff or love the child is given he remains curious about where he came from and longs to find someone who looks like he does.
This feeling is normal. This feeling is common in adopted children. This feeling is often one which for myriad reasons (fear of hurting parents’ feelings is one) goes unsaid by the child. As adults in the lives of adopted children it’s incumbent upon us to hear what children are saying and initiate conversations about what they may not be saying, as well.
We oversimplify transracial adoption.
We (OK I) often believe if our child has friends of the same race, friends who are adopted from her same country, friend who are the same religion *and* adopted from the same country—that’s enough.
Transracially adopted children have needs we as adopting-parents can’t fill on our own. Acknowledging this is more than OK—it’s pivotal for a transracially adopted child to thrive. These children need information about race/culture. They require role models of all sorts who physically look as they do.
As difficult a lesson as it is for parents of a transracially adopted child to learn: we are not enough. Raising our children demands a village. Asking for help (in the case of This is Us with regards to physical differences) is not a sign of weakness, but of awareness.
Not seeing color is *not* a gift to our transracially adopted children.
Greater than even teaching, This is Us is a reminder adoption is a never ending process.
It’s a life-long path which is constantly shifting and sparking new insights and challenges.
More than any other time I’ve seen adoption portrayed on television This is Us handles the concept deftly and with honesty and ease.
- Have you watched This is Us? Have you gleaned new insights/knowledge from how the show handles adoption themes?