If your Facebook newsfeed looks anything like mine, it’s been inundated with angry posts about the new Lifetime movie, “A Deadly Adoption” (starring Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell, who is also an Executive Producer), that’s scheduled to air on LMN® on June 20. It’s reported that the movie is meant to celebrate Lifetime’s 25th anniversary.
Other sources have reported that this is intended to be a dramatic parody of the over-the-top movies LMN is known for, but does that soften the blow to the public’s perception of not only adoption but birth moms and open adoption?
Background on the Film
Lifetime’s website describes the film this way: “Inspired by a true story, ‘A Deadly Adoption’ is a high-stakes dramatic thriller about a successful couple (Ferrell and Wiig) who house and care for a pregnant woman (Jessica Lowndes, “90210”) during the final months of her pregnancy with the hopes of adopting her unborn child.” Apparently, things turn deadly (and even more ridiculous) as the expectant mom’s residence in the hopeful adoptive couple’s home turns, shall we say, sour. True to typical LMN movies, it involves a family whose seemingly perfect, a deeply troubled individual who’s set to prey on that family, a small town that’s never been rocked by a tragedy, a secret affair, gun violence, and even a creepy tagline: “The birth of a plan gone wrong.”
I had the same puzzled reaction most had when I read the first article that rumored the coming movie. Kristin Wiig is a big favorite in our household. And Will Farrell . . . well, while I wouldn’t call him a “favorite,” we loved him in “Elf.” I was surprised to see either of these “big names” signing up to do an LMN movie, though, on second thought, it does seem like the kind of attention-seeking, over-the-top drivel Farrell is known for.
I imagine shameless executives at LMN sitting down with their PR agency, wondering what perfect stunt they could pull to celebrate their upcoming anniversary.
“It has to be a movie, of course,” someone says.
“The type of movie that wraps up all of our other movies into one terrible, ridiculous, over-the-top mega cliché!” says another.
“We have to get some big names involved,” the top executive adds.
“Will Ferrell. This is his shtick,” says the head of their PR firm.
And then they brainstorm the stereotypical LMN movie. The adoption storyline gets thrown into the mix, and all agree it’s the best route to take, as they’ve done it many times before (I even wrote an article about it) and they know it will be a hit.
Part of me never wanted to write this article because I wanted to shove this movie under a rug where it couldn’t further any misconceptions about birth moms. So many of these stereotypes are created and perpetuated by terrible movies that are meant to engross us with how far they push the line. Even my daughter’s birth mom was afraid to trust us to parent her child because she was an LMN addict and had seen far too many movies about baby-hungry couples who ran off with a woman’s child out of desperation.
I don’t want to give this movie any more attention than it deserves, but now—because big names are starring in the movie—it’s going to get far more attention than it deserves, which means a terrible stereotype of immoral, out-of-control, demented birth moms is going to be propagated.
I know hundreds of awe-inspiring birth moms whom I’m lucky to call my friends. I know my children’s birth moms better than I know almost anyone in the world, and I respect them that much, too. Both of these women respect my marriage almost as much as I do because their children are being raised in our home, learning and growing through the strength of our marriage. Both of them placed children with us because they wanted those children to be safe, and the idea of either waving a gun at us is out-of-this-world stupid. We have opened our doors to both of these amazing women, and I slept peacefully every night they spent under our roof. There has never been a concern that either would try to take our children because they made a conscious choice to place them with us. Both willingly and conscientiously decided to place, and while both continue to experience grief, both find peace with how attached and secure their children are. These women are our greatest allies, our loudest cheerleaders, and our #1 fans . . . not crazed stalkers with a death wish.
Someone, somewhere, is reading this and saying, “Ack! Get a sense of humor!” And that’s fine, but I’d urge you to say that to me after you’ve taken the time to meet my kids’ birth moms. Or as you’re standing alongside me and my kids in the grocery store line when we bump into an acquaintance who says, about our open adoption, “OMG, aren’t you scared she’s going to break into your house in the middle of the night and steal the kids?!” Or perched with me at the end of my child’s bed that night when he cries because he now believes there’s a chance he’ll be taken from the only family he’s ever known. There are certain things I find hilarious, but a serious mama bear is released when you poke my kids and their birth mothers.
Our culture has come so far with adoption in the last decade. Open adoption is slowly becoming the norm. But movies like this—as ridiculously stupid as they are—are such a huge setback. I don’t care if it’s intended to be the parody of all parodies; it’s harmful to my children. Open adoption is amazing and can be such a treasure to the kids we are raising. But a movie about that doesn’t get ratings, does it?
But there’s a deeper issue—one that goes far beyond “A Deadly Adoption.” Let me spend a minute telling you more about LMN®. LMN is a brand in the A&E Networks (which is comprised of A&E®, HISTORY®, Lifetime®, H2®, FYI™, and LMN®). The President and Chief Executive Officer of the A&E Networks is a female, as is the President of LMN specifically, which makes it extra ironic that powerful women make a living perpetuating stereotypes that women are weak, ignorant, chemically imbalanced, impulsive, criminal, helpless, blithering idiots.
A&E’s website touts that they are in the business of telling stories, that they find their true talent in “imagining, finding, cultivating and bringing to life the most entertaining parts of the human experience.” They claim to be fully “human-centered.” They’re extremely proud of the way they’ve “reinvented television,” but they also say (and this is my favorite part) that they “put our money where our mouth is when it comes to education and outreach programs.” Their Corporate Social Responsibility stance places “education and empowerment” at its core. They claim to seek to empower young women, leading a mentorship program that includes executive involvement and college tours for high school seniors. Honestly, their Corporate Social Responsibility (read: ways to dispel negative public image) just smells of guilt to me.
Here’s the thing: LMN makes a living off of perpetuating stereotypes. They think they’ve found weaklings in adoption and birth mothers, and they’re capitalizing on that at the expense of the women we love and the children we’re aiming to protect. They’re capitalizing on the stupidity of people who have an antiquated view of adoption. When you break it down, I’m left with that yucky “ew” feeling of people trying to make money by stepping on someone else.
I don’t know about you, but I sleep just fine at night with my kids’ birth mothers under my roof, but I wouldn’t be getting a wink of sleep at night making money off degrading women—especially as a woman—no matter how much corporate money I threw at negating the harm I was doing. This movie is certainly an appropriate celebration of 25 years of putting people down for money, and I won’t be watching this movie—or LMN as a whole—and I urge you to do the same.
Are you and your partner ready to start the adoption process? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to begin your adoption journey. We have 130+ years of adoption experience and would love to help you.