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Adoption Blog: My Paperwork Pregnancies

A TV Show About Adoption You’ll Want to Watch with Your Kids

I am a wee bit of a television addict. I can get sucked into almost any show if given a chance. The TV is on a lot in our house and our DVR always seems to be taping a show or two. Between watching shows or reading magazine articles about the shows, I seem to know whether or not adoption pops up on the tube. I like to know when a show decides to address the topic because many people form their impressions about adoption from what they see in the media — and as a proud adoptive mother, I want those impressions to be well-informed ones!


When the couple on the show King of Queens adopted from China, within a few months, people thought that international adoption was always that quick and easy. Lifetime has featured many movies over the years where a couple adopts a baby and the birth mother then begins to stalk the family and eventually tries to take the baby back. Many people I have met at my adoption support meetings over the years have been terrified of pursuing a domestic adoption  after watching (too many of?) these Lifetime movies.


I was nervous when I discovered that one of my all-time favorite shows, The Amazing Race, was going to follow the story of a birth mother, Andie, and the daughter she placed for adoption, Jenna, who she'd only met in person two times since the adoption was finalized. I was afraid they'd use some of the negative adoption language, like “real mother,” as the show, The Locator always did.  Since The Amazing Race is one of the shows I watch with my children — we all ooh and aah over the foreign locations and get anxious when it comes down to finding out who has made it to the pit stop first — I was particularly nervous of how they would portray this adoptive family. By the start of the first commercial break, I could tell that my worries were unfounded. (The Amazing Race is not a multi-Emmy winning show for nothing!) They handled all of the adoption language and interviews with class.


When the “adoption” team, Andie and Jenna, appeared on the show it was only the third time they had met. They said in their pre-race interview that they thought they'd learn a lot about each other while doing The Amazing Race. Unfortunately, not knowing each other well is a big disadvantage for this particular reality show. After being a faithful viewer through the previous 16 seasons, I know that the more intimate teammates are, the more successful they are on the challenges. The partners must know each other's strengths and weaknesses. It's a very high-stress contest where even the closest teammates snap at one each other until they are in tears.


Alas, Andie and Jenna came in last during the second pit stop of the show and were eliminated from the race. In their post-race interview, they said they did not have any regrets and plan on continuing their relationship. Andie said that she hoped Jenna understood that by choosing her adoptive parents, she had given Jenna “a gift.” Andie was very thankful that Jenna's parents had raised her to be such an amazing, young woman.


This is the kind of adoption story I love to see on television. There wasn't any drama. It was honest and simple — about people loving each another and wanting to know more about each other. While I know not all reunions between a child and birth parents have such a happy ending like this one between Andie and Jenna, hopefully people outside the adoption community who watch this show will learn some truths about adoption. They will see a child who was adopted wanting to learn about her birth mother, but not wanting her to “replace” her parents. Also, they will see a fully-functional, mature woman as a birth mother. Her image may not match with what is in their minds. Hopefully, people involved with adoption may find inspiration from the “adoption” team to take the extra step to put their name on a birth-parent registry, to search for their birth relatives, or to lend emotional support to their child who is seeking their biological roots. If nothing else, shows like this are a reminder to the general public that adoption is a topic people can and should openly discuss.


My children thought it was “so cool” that a woman and her birth  mother were racing together on a team. My eight year-old son already is planning to be on a team with his birth mother when he's old enough to enter The Amazing Race!


I just really want to send a big thanks to The Amazing Race for helping these two women begin their amazing race of becoming part of each another's lives, for treating the “adoption” team just as any of the other teams on the show, and, on a more personal note, thank you for providing a show that I can watch with my children where we can all root for the “adoption” team.


Now it's off to watch more television shows for more “adoption research"!

Related Posts on AdoptiveFamiliesCircle


Now, that’s the power of the media! And good for you for finding a way to multi-task—watching TV and doing research. smile Thanks for addressing this topic so well. I just may have to tune in. Have you “researched” Modern Family? I saw an ad for this show and it looked like one of the couples are raising a daughter adopted from China. Any thoughts on this one?

By Stacy Clark on Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 3:40 pm.

Great post Danielle…now how about “Brothers & Sisters,” one of my favorites? What do you think of the treatment of Kitty and Robert’s transracial adoption? Anyone got another favorite TV program with an adoption sub plot?

By SusanC on Friday, October 29, 2010 at 9:31 pm.

This is incredible, Danielle.  Thanks!  My girls are a little young, but I’ll be watching while I DVR “Miss Spider” for them.

By Meghan on Monday, November 01, 2010 at 8:03 pm.

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Danielle Pennel

Danielle Pennel


I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
U.S. Newborn, U.S. Newborn

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