Monday, December 14, 2009

Could "Find My Family" Ruin Lives?

When I saw promos recently for Find My Family, I was immediately taken aback. I mean I worked in TV promotion for over a decade, I understand the need to make things look compelling and emotional. It's how you bring people in to watch your show. But I couldn't shake the feeling that the show is just plain wrong.

I explained this to a friend who encouraged me to give it a shot.

Begrudgingly, I turned on the show tonight about halfway in. The very stiff, awkward and emotionally-vacant host was walking up to a house that just happened to be in our own community. He laughed uncomfortably as he shared with Maria that her birth mom was, in fact, alive. And SURPRISE! I've got great news... you have siblings.

Next thing you know, the adopted woman is hiking up a hill to meet her birth mom who is standing at the top with a co-host. You know what else is on top of the hill? Yup, the "family tree." I think I threw up a little in my mouth when I heard that one.

They met, they cried, their lives were changed forever. Words like "whole new beginning - thank God" and "if this happened for me, it could happen for somebody else" just oozed out of my television set.

The show ticked me off.

Now I've never been in this scenario. The birth mother I lost was never to be found again. It's painful and difficult and hard to even communicate. Now I have a daughter who will go through her own feelings and challenges. Being separated from your family hurts -- there are really no two ways around that. Producing a show that's all about the "happily ever after" is not only inaccurate in a huge percentage of these stories, it's irresponsible. Searching for your birth family should be coupled with counseling, first to prepare the family members... and then to follow up in helping them cope with dashed expecations and unfulfilled dreams. Adoption, biology, loss, love and the rest of it is complicated, difficult and personal. Shame on those who feel the need to exploit it, just to make a buck.