Admission: Another Hollywood Movie Misses Adoption Mark

As author of the novel ‘Waving Backwards’,  a family saga laced with romance, southern history, intrigue and an adoption search, I get it. I understand Hollywood’s need to include heart-tugging, teary adoption and reunion scenarios in movies. I’m also happy for the attention the big screen brings to our plight as members of the adoption triad.

What I fail to understand is why Hollywood buries adoption stories under so many layers of frivolity and false representations of what it is to be an adoptee or birth mother.  For Hollywood, adoption is a sweet little subplot thrown in without much research or attention to detail.

Case in point, I watched the movie ‘Admission’ last night, expecting a nice comedy about the trials and tribulations of a college admission professional at Princeton University. Tina Fey plays Portia, an admissions professional, romantic failure, and oh by the way— birth mother to a kid she gave up as a teenager.

In the movie, Fey encounters a teenage prodigy who may be her long-lost son while recruiting students for Princeton. Fey never considers that the kid could be her relinquished child. In fact, as far as we know, she has never wondered about any of the 17-year-old boys she’s interviewed for admission to Princeton. WHAT? Every birth mother I’ve encountered has spent a significant amount of tortured time examining the faces of  children who are the same age as the kid they relinquished.

In ‘Admission’ Fey’s character only starts thinking of the relinquished boy after costar Paul Rudd (who runs the alternative school where the prodigy is enrolled)  waves the kid’s birth certificate in her face.  Once she thinks the boy might be her son, Fey jumps through hoops to get him into Princeton, forsaking her career in the process.

I won’t ruin the ending, but let’s just say Fey’s character is left in the birth mom lurch. She ends up requesting additional information from a social worker, presumably at the the adoption agency where she placed her son. Bing, bam, boom… identifying information magically arrives in the mail within weeks. Just like reality. Right birth moms?

Overall, I liked the movie. It is light, cute and fast-moving. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that adoption will never be portrayed by Hollywood as the strings-attached, emotionally devastating, taxing and (in some cases of reunion) delightful life experience that it is.

Blessings for a true portrayal of adoption,

3 thoughts on “Admission: Another Hollywood Movie Misses Adoption Mark

  1. You have a great idea….I have considered sending Ken Burns, the producer of many successful documentarys, all the important books regarding reliquishment and non-kinship adoption that explains the life-long trauma that has never been addressed by the worlds mental health community, ever, in history. Since we know there is a grassroots movement to make non-kinship adoption illegal in the US, a historical documentary would be supportive evidence for the movement. Such eveidence would confirm the unethical practices of those associated with adoption agency’s, in which legal advice was withheld by social workers so women believed they had no recourse but to reliquish their child. Such a documentary would compliment Anne Fessler’s book and movie. Anyone ahead of me on this? In fact, I am willing to send all my books on adoption to Ken Burns with a proposal; how about others doing the same? Isn’t it time civil laws are passed by state legislatures to give pregnant women, if need be, a public defender, a lawyer, to receive legal couseling? And make it a law that all doctors and clinic’s have to inform each women of her rights to a public attorney, free social services, and make it legally manditory she has at least one meeting with an attorney so she knows her legal options. The intent of this documentary is to prove there is an ethical responsibility of all governments, to keep biological family’s together. In the US, this can be accomplished if public law and public policy’s support legal and social counseling to all pregnant women. I believe in doing so the world would have fewer mental health problems. And if a child is to be adopted, then it is truely an orphan, which would be less than 1% of those born out of wedlock, if that many. Anyone know Ken Burns address?

  2. You have never met a birth mother who has never thought about the child they gave up? Then feel free to contact mine! Her name is Wanda Jane Volpe and she lives in Lakewood California…she’s a GEM!!! Yes, bitches do exist!!

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