The television show Glee is a leader in bringing positive portrayals of groups often bullied and misunderstood to the mainstream media. The show portrays a diverse and complex cast that deals with real issues as real people, and it has been honored for this work by gay and civil rights organizations.
But Glee's portrayal of adoption through the story lines of the characters Quinn and Rachel falls short of this high standard.
While it is admirable to show the very important reality that many mothers struggle with the decision to place a child for adoption, and many adopted children have conflicting feelings about their birth parents, the Glee storyline also unfortunately perpetuates myths about adoption that harm adopted children, adoptive parents, and birth parents alike.
In the current story line, Quinn, a teen mother who placed her daughter for adoption, is actively (and with malice) trying to "get my daughter back." And, Rachel, an adopted child, deals with the sudden reappearance of her birth mother. In real, legitimate adoptions, a birth mother cannot simply take a child away from their family or pop back into a child's life, however this is one of most pervasive and harmful myths about adoption. Furthermore, most adoptions in the US are open to some extent, so these dramatic scenes with birthmothers never take place because a relationship exists from the start.
For adopted children, the show raises the fear that they may be taken away from their adopted families. And for adoptive parents and birth mothers, the show creates confusion about the nature of adoption - confusion and mistruths that proponents of adoption constantly work to dispel. And for young women facing unplanned pregnancies, many of whom are in Glee's target demographic, the show may givethe inaccurate impression that adoption is a temporary solution, not a permanent one.
As fans of the show, and people who care about adopted children and their families, we ask that Glee and Fox produce a Public Service Announcement that helps to separate fact from fiction about adoption, and points viewers to resources for finding out more about how adoption really works.
We hope that Glee will, as it has with other important societal issues, use the show's success to help raise audience awareness about important issues. Over 120,000 children are adopted in the U.S. every year. A public service announcement from Glee would help these children and their families, and the families who hope to be formed through adoption in the future.
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