Adoption in the Media: ‘Modern Family’ Season Finale

It’s not uncommon for TV shows to throw in a surprise twist for their season finale. The same could be said of the ABC hit comedy Modern Family a couple weeks ago. The episode brought the adoption storyline of Cam and Mitchell back to life as the two received notice from their adoption agency that a birthmother had selected them. It also turned out that she had gone into early labor that day. Cam and Mitchell work their way to the hospital on the other side of town, some comedy ensues, and the episode ends on a sour note for them when the birth-grandmother decides to raise the child at the last moment. The decision is devastating for the couple.

As an adoption agency ourselves, we thought we would take a closer look inside this episode’s adoption storyline to give people some further insight as to when and how often this kind of situation happens.

First, at the Independent Adoption Center we have the “Last Minute Hospital List”: a list of adoptive parents ready to be considered in cases where a birthmother decides on adoption while giving birth at the hospital. We send a counselor to the hospital along with the adoptive parents letters for the mother to read through and make her decision. We have even had cases where the birthmother wasn’t aware she was pregnant until she was going into labor. We’ve seen many cases where adoptive parents are notified the day of birth, but haven’t yet seen a situation involving such a close resemblance to a Mexican Soap Opera.

While there are incidences of a birthmother changing her mind at the hospital, this is actually pretty rare. Only about 2% of birthmother’s decide to parent after initially placing their child in an open adoption. Much of the counseling we provide to birthparents is geared towards helping them figure out the best choice for them and their baby. This helps keep to a minimum the chance of a last-minute change of heart, because those birthparents who have a desire to parent are pointed towards resources to help them do so.

We were glad to see the adoption storyline back on Modern Family for this season’s finale. Be sure to keep tuned to our blog for more insight into how adoption scenarios are portrayed on TV and in movies.

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