Having an adoption storyline seems to be a popular choice in 2011, as many programs from comedies to detective dramas bring either the adoption of a child or the making of an adoption plan into their plot lines.
Here are my top surprising adoption television plot lines of 2011. Some were done well, others not.
In Plain Sight: 2011 brought an unplanned pregnancy for U.S. Marshall Mary Shannon. Since the actress, was pregnant, her pregnancy was written into the TNT television series. The past several episodes have shown Mary coming to terms with being pregnant and how she was going to balance her work and motherhood. Deciding that adoption was the best plan for her child; she started reading profiles of prospective adoptive parents. Interestingly enough, Mary did not like adoption profiles that were too perfect and was looking for an adoptive family that was more realistic. If you watch the show, you know that "perfect" does not describe Mary's childhood.
Glee: There were several adoption story lines in the FOX teen musical series, Glee, this year. Early in 2011, we see head cheerleader, Quinn Fabray, trying to decide whether or not to parent or make an adoption plan for her baby girl. In the end she and the baby's father, Noah "Puck" Puckerman, decide to place Beth for adoption. Yes, and in a total soap opera twist, Shelby Corcoran, the birth mother of another character and Glee club member, Rachel Berry, adopts Beth and moves back to the area and begins to teach at William McKinley High School. It was tough for Rachel to have her birth mother so close to her on a daily basis, but the two discussed boundaries and move forward. Then this fall, Quinn continues to struggle with the loss of her daughter and plans to get Beth back by setting up Shelby to look like an unfit mother. This adoption storyline has been the topic of conversation all over the web as many find the whole story line disturbing and unrealistic, concerned that children will be afraid of birth parents coming back to reclaim adoptees. I think some viewers have too much time on their hands and are worrying about nothing. Why are children watching Glee anyway? Not an appropriate viewing choice.
Parenthood: NBC's Parenthood is not on my DVR list of shows that I have to watch, but I've read up on the adoption storyline that is a part of this season's plot. Characters Julia and her husband Joel have a biological daughter, but are unable to have any more children, so they decide to adopt. Julia is a strong personality who goes after what she wants and becomes frustrated with the adoption process, the terms "buying a baby" or "writing a check for a baby" were used in the adoption episodes. Julia even approaches a pregnant young woman, Zoe, who works at the coffee cart in Julia's law firm, and asks if she can have her baby. Other bloggers have described the adoption storyline to be cliche and predictable with tear jerking moments and swelling, dramatic music to match.
NCIS: Even CBS's NCIS had an adoption plot line when Abby Scuito, the genius in the NCIS lab, made a shocking discovery this season. Abby decides to donate a kidney to a total stranger, but when it's discovered that another person was also a perfect match, Abby realizes the only way this can be possible is if they are blood related. At first she wonders if her parents had placed a baby for adoption, but then after a simple DNA test of her mother's hair, the truth is revealed – Abby was the one that was adopted. She sets out to meet her biological brother, who owns a pet shop, but does not let him know that she is his sister. The actor playing her brother looked so much like Abby; it made the scene very heart touching and believable. Upsetting as this news was for Abby, Gibbs was there to remind her of the true meaning of family and it has little to do with blood or DNA.
Grey's Anatomy: Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd of ABC's Grey's Anatomy attempted to adopt an African orphan child, Zola, this year. The show followed the adoption process, including the adoption home study and social worker home visits, but when the social worker discovered that the couple had lied and were no longer living together and that Dr. Grey had lost her job, they lost Zola.
Rizzoli and Isles: On this popular TNT detective show, adoption is weaved into the storyline as one of the characters is an adoptee. Dr. Isles, a medical examiner, speaks often about her adoption. One episode highlighted the distant relationship she has with her adoptive mother.
Modern Family: Who doesn't love ABC's Modern Family? While the show is extremely funny, there are often morals to the story, and this comedy has handled adoption well. Gay couple, Cameron and Mitchell, have already adopted a little girl from China, this season has them filling out paperwork to adopt again. We get to see the couple work through insecurities as they try to decide if they want to adopt again and if they can successfully raise a little boy.
What did you think of these adoption television story lines of 2011?