When you are a part of the adoption community, you start to see adoption themes everywhere in pop culture. The latest one that I’ve come across is the reality-show, Preachers of L.A.
Deitrick Haddon, one of the main characters, decides to go back to his hometown of Detroit to find his biological family on his father’s side. His bio-father passed away some years ago and he never had a relationship with him. According to his mother, his father was abusive and that’s why she left. He was raised by his mother and his step-father who adopted him and gave him the name Haddon. Now that he is married and has two daughters, he feels a pull to find out more about his paternal side of the family.
“They have my blood, so there are things that they might have questions about that I won’t really be able to answer because I really have no connection with my biological father.”
Upon arriving in Detroit he attends a family dinner with a woman who I assumed was his full sister (same mother, same father) and his other half-siblings, all whom grew up together as Haddons. After informing the family of his journey, his sister gets very upset and emotionally expresses that she thinks its disrespectful to look up his father’s side. From her point of view, they are Haddons, they were never treated any differently and this is their family. She throws Deitrick’s new wife into the mix, claiming that it was his wife’s idea and she was ultimately the problem. The wife tearily explains that she supports his search because it’s bigger than them as individuals. Now that he has children, he needs to understand where he came from and he desires that his children know their entire family.
Deitrick meets his family for the first time and they embrace him, telling him stories of his father, and listening to old recordings of his father singing. Multiple times they express amazement that he looks, acts and sounds so much like his father. It ain’t all chins and grins because they also have some issues with Deitrick. They were upset that he didn’t reach out to their side of the family before.
Now that he is a grown man, Deitrick has more of the skills that he needs to navigate the feelings of both sides of his family. His paternal side seems happy to be in reunion with him and ready to develop a relationship. But there are barriers with developing relationships as an adult. His paternal family all have shared experiences, shared family customs, shared slang and memories. There are also a host of half-siblings that may not have had a similar lifestyle of growing up in a nice house and having a live-in nanny like Deitrick did. So there may be some class tensions that are thrown in the mix. They are essentially strangers that he now has to get to know and integrate with his new family.
At the same time, there is tension with his Haddon family. We didn’t get much of a perspective on the other Haddon siblings but we know he has to manage the rejection that his sister feels. His father, Bishop Haddon, kibboshed the discussion at the dinner table, and made it clear that he considers Deitrick his son, full stop. But we don’t get to see the conversations between Bishop Haddon and Deitrick’s mother – are they fully supportive, do they have any concerns? How do the other siblings feel?
The impact of adoption doesn’t just stop with the triad. It ripples outwards and affects siblings, parents, grandparents and the children of the adopted person.