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,