Seeing the Distortion

Racilous column topper

[Ed. note–I am thrilled to publish this first post from OAB’s newest contributor, Racilous. On the second Monday of each month she will take a look at the ways adoption is portrayed in popular culture. -Heather]

Connecticut (1)I am so excited to be writing a monthly column here at Open Adoption Bloggers. The column, Fictionalized Adoption, will look at how adoption is presented in pop culture.

To introduce myself, I am a birth mother to a three and a half year old, we have a fully open adoption, and I have blogged about navigating that relationship and adoption’s impact on my life for the last three years at Adoption in the City. Outside of my life as a birth mother, I have always been a big consumer of pop culture–books, movies, television, and theater have always captured my imagination and provided an escape for me that I constantly craved. I have been known to spend a day doing nothing but reading a good book or binge watching a television series. I love all types of stories, anything I can get lost in I will, whether it’s reading a chick lit book, or one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, watching a great cop show on TV or a sci-fi movie–I love all types of stories in all different mediums.

When I relinquished, suddenly it seemed like adoption had not only taken over my life, but was a plot point in pop culture everywhere; it seemed like I couldn’t escape it. These stories had an impact on me, and it wasn’t just because they were about adoption, but it was also because they seemed so far removed from the reality I was living in. Characters like Annie and Juno who defined adoption for those with no adoption connections had very little in common with the reality of my story. Suddenly instead of just enjoying a story I found myself constantly critiquing the stereotypes being cemented in these different mediums.

I am not a person who usually takes issue with outlandish or unreal story lines in fiction–for me I view all works of fiction as a sort of fun house mirror. Sure they reflect back society and people today, but they do it with distortion. Some pieces distort more than others, the end result having little in common with the actual image, but sometimes there is a more gentle distortion, the mirror that makes you a little skinnier and taller, the one where you can almost fool yourself into thinking that’s what you actually look like. I think many times when adoption is brought into fictional stories, the distortion puts a pretty face to adoption, the orphan gets saved by the rich billionaire, the pregnant teen finds the right parent for her child and then moves on with her life, the children of the addict finds a new home and suddenly have the perfect family. Adoption becomes black and white, the good and the bad, with a little happily ever after thrown in–the real world never seems that simple.

So this column won’t be reviews of pop culture, but more a chance to really look at these distortions, to give my perspective as a birth mother, and hopefully get your perspectives from whatever part of the adoption constellation you’re a part of. If you have any suggestions for topics please feel free to email me at racilous [at] gmail [dot] com or find me on twitter at @racilous. I’ll see you next month.

About the author:
In addition to being a monthly contributor to OAB, you can also find Racilous at her personal blog Adoption in the City. There she writes about her experiences as a birth mother, navigating an open adoption with her son and his family, and how adoption has impacted her.


7 thoughts on “Seeing the Distortion

  1. Have you seen the movie “Admission” with Tina Fey? I just saw it a few weeks ago and there is a birthmom/adoption storyline that I totally didn’t see coming. I guess I didn’t know too much about the film going into it.
    That said, it didn’t bother me. I don’t want to spoil the movie – but let’s just say she’s a birthmom whose story is unresolved…just like real life. No fairytale happy ending.
    Excellent first post! Can’t wait to read more.

  2. The truth resist simplicity. People don’t often want to think about the fact that life events don’t happen in a vacuum. Everything can be affected and everyone has a little good and bad about them

  3. I read your review of that movie (Admissions) way back, which is why we watched it. I liked it; it was nuanced and I thought Tina really showed vulnerability and pain well. I also loved the interplay between the little Ethiopian adoptee and his adoptive Dad – the way the little boy just wanted stability and was fascinated by his WASPISH grandmother – it was funny and poignant.

    I’d love for you to watch the King Fu Panda series. Theo is still a little unclear on the underlying adoption narrative but I was crying big time.

  4. I love, love, love the analogy of fiction being a fun house mirror of society. So descriptive and so perfect. (And with all of that buttering up, know that I may “borrow” that analogy somewhere down the road).

    Congrats on the new gig, and I look forward to reading your pieces!

  5. Pingback: A News Break | Adoption in the City

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