The New Season of Parenthood & That Pesky Adoption Storyline

6 years ago

I was so excited to sit down and watch the new season premiere of Parenthood last night. Then DishNetwork decided to have HD and local channel coverage fails left and right, so I had to wait until this morning to watch it on Hulu. During my non-watching pout-fest, people were kind of enough to send me some emails and tweets warning me of the adoption storyline unfolding for Julia and Joel.

I'm glad they did, or my head might have exploded when I did watch.

Julia has unexplained uterine scarring, as I talked about last season when I feared that the might knock up Haddie and go the in-family adoption route. Instead, Kristina (her mom) is pregnant (and isn't she an adorable pregnant mama?). This season brought back the adoption storyline out with Julia trying to remake their adoption profile video to mention Lady Gaga because no one had picked them in six months. (Of note: If you mentioned Lady Gaga in your profile or, if I could think of a comparable 2003 pop star, I would have rolled my eyes. I can't think of anything less important to know about a family that I want to parent my child.)

Courtesy of NBC

The next time we see Julia, she's at work asking the "Latte Girl" if she's pregnant. She is, though I'm not sure how Julia thought it was appropriate to ask this young woman if her not-even-visible-under-her-apron belly was in fact a baby bump. But, whatever. Julia later apologizes, which the Latte Girl accepts because "she's not keeping the baby." For once -- FOR ONCE -- Julia is stunned to silence. Thank goodness. I talk a lot, but that woman doesn't shut up.

Later, Julia is talking with her sister Sarah about "buying" the Latte Girl's baby. Later she uses the same terminology with her husband. The first time I think it was intended to be a joke, but it fell flat. The second time it was just creepy. In the previews for the rest of the season, we see Julia actually ask Latte Girl if she can adopt her baby.

And that brings us to my opinions.


This is the best we can do, NBC writers? This? This is it?

Perhaps there is hope to be had. Maybe Julia will come around to recognizing that Latte Girl is a real woman, a real mother with a name, feelings and an issue that is above and beyond what she (Julia or Latte Girl, really) can even begin to comprehend. Maybe they will bond. Maybe this will be the show that depicts what an open adoption can be -- real and awkward and messy and joyous and awful and everything in between. It wouldn't be far-fetched for the Braverman family to pull Latte Girl into their fold; they're a big family with lots of love. And judgment, though they usually work through that in a few episodes (see also Haddie's boyfriend). Maybe this will turn out to be good.

But I fear it won't be.

I can predict many things going wrong. Some ideas:

  • Julia and Joel will match and essentially "court" Latte Girl through her pregnancy. They will invest time and money. The baby will be born and Latte Girl will decide not to relinquish.
  • OR she will place the baby and then will decide to fight for the baby.
  • OR Julia and Joel will match and essentially "court" Latte Girl through her pregnancy, Latte Girl will relinquish, talk about the dreams she has for her life and will fade into the woodwork, never to be seen or heard from again. Because that's what good birth mothers do; they just disappear and let the "real" family live their life.

I can't decide if it's going to be the first or the last prediction, but I only give a 1% chance to the made-for-TV attempted depiction at what an open adoption looks like. The world may be ready for all kinds of scenarios on TV. Parenthood already has autism, interracial couples, co-parenting, drugs and alcohol, unemployment, infidelity forgiveness (and unforgiveness) and so on. But the world doesn't seem ready for a birth mother who doesn't do her hand-over-and-disappear duty ala Juno.

I accept that for what it is. I accept that the world doesn't know what to do with me and that writers think I'm some unicorn that doesn't exist. But I think that the writers are wrong and are selling the viewing public short by writing the same damn adoption storyline over and over and over and over. You want real ratings and an interested viewership? Write something different. Do something that hasn't been done before. Don't make this another overplayed, predictable Lifetime movie. Don't do what every adoption TV storyline has been, what every movie has done (except for that one Lifetime movie that is still kind of odd). Write this one differently.

C'mon, Parenthood. Do something new. I want to believe in you.

Did you watch? What did you think about the adoption storyline? Also feel free to rant about Haddie's hair. Or Amber's. Oof!

(Read my previous post on Season 3 of Parenthood.)

Family Section Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. She is a writer, editor and photographer.

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