18 November 2009

The "yuck" factor...

OK, I admit it.

I'm a lemming.

I've now joined the legions of other lemmings who went over the cliff to follow McDreamy and Meredith along their improbable romantic journey on Grey's Anatomy.

I'm not a rabid lemming because I'm several seasons behind having only just gotten caught up in the Meredith/McDreamy saga in re-runs on whatever channel happens to be channel 40 in my viewing area and whenever I happen to be home to catch an episode or two.

The episode I watched last night left me feeling sort of....well, "yuck" if you must know.

It turns out that Dr. Izzy has a daughter that she gave up for adoption.




That's not the "yuck" factor.

I imagine that there are many Izzy-s out there - successful women who have children that they are not parenting - children that are being raised by others.

The "yuck" factor in the storyline is that the GA writers opt to tell Izzy's adoption story via every bad adoption cliché they could think of - Izzy grew up poor, in a trailer park (no!), had uneducated parents, got herself pregnant at 16 (really???) but knew that a baby would screw up any chance of her ever getting away from her trailer trash life, etc. etc. etc.

Could the writers have gone for any more awful clichés about a woman who pursues adoption for her child? Could they have been any less thoughtful in their presentation of what adoption looks like?

Please don't get me wrong - I'm sure that that there really are those stories out there. I certainly don't want to bash any young woman who chooses to put up her child for adoption because she is certain that she doesn't have the resources to care for her child and wants to make a better life for herself and her child.

But what makes Izzy's storyline so yucky is that people who are not involved in adoption just assume that children who are placed for adoption only come from the kind of situation the GA writers describe...when the reality is that there are so many situations that involve adoption - much more so than just "young poor girl gets pregnant."

The GA episode takes an even yuckier turn when Izzy counsels (in a very heavy-handed way) a 16 year-old pregnant girl in her care to give up her baby for adoption.

"You're smart," Izzy says to the girl, "You read Shakespeare to your baby now, but after you've worked a 12-hour shift at the truck stop you won't be reading Shakespeare to your baby then."


Now if I'm honest I can and will admit that I am of the opinion that a 16 year-old girl is likely not going to be well equipped or have the resources to adequately parent a child. However, I will also admit that I could be wrong and that that may not necessarily always be the case. Perhaps there are young women out there who - with support - could make a good life for themselves and their children. Not many, but maybe.

The way Izzy swoops in to counsel the young girl in the GA episode... It reminded me of everything that's wrong with adoption today - some well-meaning person telling - not asking but telling - a girl or woman what she should do and what's best for her and her baby. The well-meaning person assuming that he/she knows better and knows what's best.

In the episode the 16 year-old girl's mother is furious with Izzy for trying to convince the girl to give up her baby. The girl's mother wants to help parent the child. Izzy pretty much lays the same "You're daughter is smart" line on the mother and then storms away without waiting to hear what the girl's mother has to say.

Did it ever occur to Izzy (or to the GA writers for that matter) to ASK the girl and her mother about their parenting plan? Or to consider the fact that the mother of this 16 year-old girl wanted to be there to help parent her grandchild?

To go beyond the assumption.

This may sound strange coming from a me - a woman who is preparing to adopt.

But it isn't.

I would very much like to know that the girl or woman who is preparing to give up her child to me - whatever her age, race, socioeconomic situation - has been presented with and has considered ALL of her options. That she is making the most informed decision she can. That she isn't being pressured or coerced into adoption. If she wants to parent and has family that are willing to support her and help parent her child, who am I or anyone else to to say that she would be better off giving up her child for adoption?

Grey's Anatomy is a ridiculous show...over the top and heavy-handed in just about all of its storylines. It's not like I expect anything more than mindless entertainment when I fall off the cliff to watch it, but it would have been nice if the writers could have just this once seen beyond the cliché...gone beyond the assumption.

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