For better or for worse, the way we think and communicate about adoption is shaped by our access to members of the adoption triad (adoptees, first parents, and adoptive parents.) Many people have little to no relationship with someone who actively advocates for a healthy adoption relationship—which means their beliefs are more likely shaped by the media. And by the media, I of course mean Lifetime Original Made For Television Movies. Get your comfy pants and a bowl of popcorn, because here is my list of amazing (read: worst) movies “about” adoption.

Baby for Sale 

baby for sale

Let’s start this lifetime movie festival off with a gem: selling babies to the highest adoptive bidder! Luckily for all, the adoptive parents set up a sting to foil the nefarious agency. This one is great for hopeful adoptive parents who already are freaking out about their lack of control in the process. Make sure to pop extra corn!



Another great “film” for those hopeful adoptive parents who are convinced that, somehow, their legal adoption is going to get overturned twelve years after finalization. This gem has a birth father fighting a widowed stepfather for custody of his daughter. Super true to life!

A Deadly Adoption 

a deadly adoption

I had to include this lifetime movie on the list because it satirizes every other Lifetime Original Movie ever made. All the tropes, all the nonsense, Will Farrell and Kristen Wiig. So terrible, so amazing, so meta.

A Father for Brittany 

a father for brittany

This one’s got it all: Adoptive dad who doesn’t actually care about kids or adopting; Magical Fast and Easy International Adoption; parent death; threats of disruption; and, of course, a legal battle culminating in Dad Loving Daughter After All! “Based” on a true story!

The Last Trimester 

the last trimester

A gold standard in television movies about adoption, this one features a manipulative potential adoptive parent, a crazy-because-of-infertility woman, a woman who doesn’t actually want to relinquish her baby but is forced to go through with the adoption . . . and murder. This one set us back at least ten years in the advocacy world. If you took a shot every time something troubling happened, you’d be passed out way before the baby was born.

Mom At Sixteen 

mom at sixteen

This gem includes pretending not to be pregnant, allowing grandma to be the “mom” so daughter can finish high school with pregnancy unknown, not telling the birth father until way too late in the movie, and finally, an adoption that is (surprisingly!) open. Best (worst) line: “Jacey’s my special mommy because I’m the only one who knows how her heart feels from the inside.” Pretty sure that’s what serial killers also say when they dress up in your skinsuit.

My Baby is Missing 

my baby is missing

This film features a baby-stealing adoption agency that sells infants to the highest bidder, telling biological parents that their children were stillborn. This must have been a big issue in the 90s, for all the made-for-TV-movies that focused on it. (Spoiler: it wasn’t a big issue in the 90s.)

Did I miss your favorite? Are you as addicted to terrible television as I am? Let me know in the comments.