Fall TV Goes Baby Crazy: The Adoption Season


This fall, it seems like most of primetime has gone baby crazy.

Two TV shows have prominently featured main characters giving birth in the past two weeks and there’s also been a mini-boomlet in adoption storylines, including two stories involving same-sex couples.

Ironically, the stories involving the same-sex couples’ adoptions seem to be the ones that appear relatively trouble-free, thus far anyway.

NBC’s Parenthood, which just saw a heterosexual married main character, Kristina Braverman, give birth to her third child, also shined a spotlight on another married couple’s attempts to adopt a child after the wife couldn’t get pregnant. This couple, lawyer Julia Braverman-Graham and her stay-at-home husband Joel Graham who looks after their grade school aged daughter Sydney, struggled all last season with infertility issues before finally reaching the decision to go the adoption route.

When Parenthood’s third season began last month, Julia and Joel had already been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for adoption agencies to tell them that a pregnant woman had selected them to adopt her child. But the phone never rang, prompting successful careerist Julia to start second-guessing herself and questioning whether the adoption video she and Joel created was somehow sub-par compared to other would-be adoptive families.

Enter Zoe, the young, single, broke pregnant woman who pushes the coffee cart around Julia’s law office. Upon learning that Zoe intended to give her baby up for adoption, Julia actually asked her if she and Joel could do the honors, after joking with her husband about “buying” the “coffee cart girl’s baby.” Zoe eventually agreed, especially after she spent some quality time with Julia, Joel and their daughter Sydney. However, if Parenthood spoilers are any indication, adopting Zoe’s baby is not going to be a piece of cake as the baby daddy is expected to show up and complicate matters.

This Parenthood storyline has annoyed BlogHER writer Jenna Hatfield, a birth mother who is “involved in a fully open adoption,” according to her blog, and she hasn’t exactly been a fan of how this whole thing is playing out. 

After Julia initially started toying with the idea of adopting Zoe’s baby, Hatfield predicted that the writers might go have Julia and Joel support Zoe and “invest time and money” into the process only to have Zoe not give them the baby or opt to fight them in court for custody.

After a recent episode where Julia’s father questioned whether Zoe was just after money, or whether Zoe was even definitively pregnant, Hatfield suggested that the Parenthood writers consider showing what this is like for Zoe and “at least offer a scene or two to how mothers considering placement deal with their own familial craziness – without getting into a storyline that pits (potential) birth mother against (reluctant) birth father.” Time will tell if Hatfield gets her wish.

Meanwhile, things aren’t going very well for Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd with their adoption of an orphaned baby girl named Zola on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. At the end of last season, they got legally married and were given the green light to take Zola home after they’d waged a lengthy battle with infertility following Meredith’s miscarriage.

Unfortunately, Meredith got herself into trouble after she manipulated the medicine in Derek’s Alzheimer’s trial (in order to give her friend Adele experimental medication), causing Derek to go ballistic and temporarily leave her. Though she was rehired soon after she was fired from her job for monkeying with the trial, the social worker who was checking up on Zola took the baby away after she realized that Derek and Meredith were estranged and that Meredith had lost her job, albeit temporarily. The heartbroken Meredith and Derek are now living under the same roof but Zola-less.

Their custody nightmare freaked out their colleague Arizona Robbins whose connection to her wife’s biological baby, who calls Arizona “Mama,” isn’t official. “I’m the only one who can get her back to sleep in the middle of the night,” Arizona said to wife Callie Torres, baby Sofia’s birth mother who vowed to make Arizona’s parentage legally binding as soon as possible. Whether Arizona getting legal parenting rights to Sofia will be pro forma or tricky remains to be seen.

Over on ABC’s Modern Family, Cameron Tucker and Mitchell Pritchett, the show’s sole gay couple who’ve already adopted a daughter Lily who’s now in pre-school, have filed paperwork with an adoption agency seeking to add a son to their family.

But the world of Modern Family seems a lot more positive and idyllic than it does on, say Parenthood, at least when it comes to adoption. The couples are similar – Mitchell, like Julia, is a lawyer, while Cameron, like Joel, is an at-home dad – and they’re both relatively well off with lots of extended family around them for support, yet the adoption process doesn’t seem nearly as angst-ridden for Mitchell and Cameron as it does for Julia and Joel.

Mitch and Cam seem almost nonchalant about the process. On the day when a social worker was slated to make a home visit as part of their adoption application – a date they couldn’t remember (whereas Julia would’ve never forgotten that appointment) – their house was a mess, literally, and Mitchell had playfully sprayed a whipped cream “hat” on top of Lily’s head in order to make a point with Cameron with whom he’d been having a disagreement. Yet the atypical state that their abode was in wound up being a punch line, not a reason for concern that could result in them not being able to adopt another child.

If only real life was as charmed and madcap as it is on Modern Family.



Leave a Reply