Wednesday, October 27, 2010

TV Crime Drama Procedurals and Foster care/Adoption themes

Well that title should just say it all, but since I just finished watching an episode on my DVR of a new crime drama procedural titled Detroit 1-8-7 I figured I'd blog about my thoughts. 

The particular episode is called "Lost child; murder 101".  In it a woman is murdered in her SUV and a preschool age child is found hiding in the backseat.  While all the wonderful actors try to figure out the crime and where the child belongs they find out that this woman is NOT the mother of this child....then they find a couple with a medically fragile son....a wonderful family that just happened to have "adopted" him but then mysteriously won't talk about why this recently murdered woman was on her way to see them with this other child that they have found out isn't hers....yes the plot thickens. 

In this intricately woven mess of a plot, we find out that the murdered woman is an ex-social worker that swoops in and kidnaps kids that are in bad foster homes and doctors up papers--termination of parental rights and adoption papers so that the kids aren't left in bad homes and end up with 'good' people/homes along with phony adoption papers.  The birth father of the girl was the one that ended up being the killer and the lead detective takes initiative with the DCFS supervisor and scurries this girl secretly with that family that "adopted" their other son (you know the one with fake adoption papers) so that she won't be lost to the system forever.  (I'm assuming more forged/fake adoption paperwork was in the mix as well)  Of course everyone thinks this is the best answer to beat a broken system...even the DCFS supervisor ended the hour by saying her last line "the day I get in trouble for this is the day the system is fixed". 

Now while I know that TV drama shows are there for emotional appeal and to make situations extreme so that your favorite actor/actress can melt your heartstrings..and then there is a following....crazy love-struck fans living in fantasy, all that good stuff I have some major problems with this storyline both as a soon to be forever family and because I did pursue adoption through foster care. 

1.  The portrayal of foster homes here....well it really feeds the myth that most foster homes are evil, bad, and out for the money.
*while some foster homes may indeed be a hell hole, (heck Tigger had to be taken from her first emergency placement due to some unfortunate circumstances in the home and yet her second foster home was warm, inviting, friendly, GOOD, and I still keep in touch with them), not all foster homes are like this.  I do feel that foster homes do get the short end of the stick in the media....

2.  Contrary to popular opinion, not all birthparents are evil psycho killers.  Yes in foster care/DCFS/CPS, the home life is more than likely bad if not children would not be taken away and put in foster homes, but a cold blooded killer all the time? no.  Would it surprise you that some families that have adopted children from foster care maintain some somrt of semi-open to open adoption with family members and/or a parent?  Well it does happen.  Does it surprise you that some foster parents and/or adoptive parents carry around a great deal of sadness and sympathy for the biological parents?  well they do, it'sa complicated situation that can't be wraped up in 60 minutes. 

3.  Because the system is broken it's ok to be vigilantes.....oh no.
*there is nothing right about kidnapping.  There are rules, policies, and procedures to follow.  Do we like all of them?  no, but does this make it ok to take the law into your own hands because the foster care system sucks?  That's a dangerous path to follow. 

4.  Can someone please enlighten me as to why we think it's ok to falsify adoption papers and court proceedings just because a family is a "good" and "deserving" family?
*First of all this is wrong....on all levels.  I don't care if you are a "good" family or not.  Working the system, throwing money around so you can get what you want and what you think you deserve is not right.  Not to mention that in the heat of the emotional moment on tv, you will have people saying that the 'ends justify the means' and agreeing that a good home was way better and it was right to falsify everything for this little girl. 

Sometimes a TV show is just a TV show.  However, as I look and ponder my favorite TV shows, foster care and adoption are never put in a positive light.  Most of the time it's the "bad seed" mentality or the evil biological parents, or the child with RAD that kills everyone.  It's kind of frustrating. 

Sure, adoption needs to be something that can be talked about.  Maybe seeing more on older child adoptions may cause a family to think, but these types of plots in tv drama shows only cement long held myths that are usually not true, which is unfortunate because many people do get their 'adoption education' from the TV and I shudder to think that this is the message that they are seeing and remembering in their brains.


Ticia said...

Obviously all those evil foster kids are terrible, or in reality they came from hard lives and so they have more to overcome than many kids.

But, then there's those movies that portray the good side of foster care. I have a scene from a movie stuck in my head where a woman talks about all of her different "children" but I can't remember the movie.

I'll be curious when you get a chance to see Despicable Me what you think of it.

DannieA said...

If/When I watch that T, I'll give you a full review. I do better with DVR tv shows because I can watch them in 45 min and then do whatever else I need to movies have become kinda scarce.

BTW to anyone reading, I wrote this late last night and I usually proof read and fix grammatical errors, but I seem to have had a lot of them go unnoticed....I think I was too tired, so please forgive some of my runon sentences with innappropriate punctuation.

Quacken said...

I'm a big time TV'er and we DVR everything...

Criminal Minds had a FC theme. Private Practice did too.

Despicable Me was the first movie our girls saw in the theater. I didn't know "orphans" were the main character... I probably wouldn't have taken them if I had, because they'd only lived with us a week!

**Other poster... last season on NCIS: LA there was a foster mom with a wall of pics of all the kids over the years.. and she said something like, "whether they stayed for a night or a year, their picture is on my wall".