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Transracial Adoption in TV and Film: A Retrospective

Thanks to ABC Family’s new series The Fosters for sponsoring this post. Click here to see more of the discussion. Also, watch the series premiere of The Fosters on Monday, June 3 at 9/8c only on ABC Family.

ABC's New Show 'The Fosters'

The new show The Fosters launches on ABC Family. Featuring a multi-ethnic family mix of biological, adoptive, and foster children being raised by two moms, the show tackles the topic of transracial adoption in a more serious way than we’ve seen in the media. I had a chance to preview an episode of The Fosters and I am really looking forward to seeing more. It’s a family drama with great writing and well-drawn characters, reminding me a bit of Parenthood or Gilmore Girls. However, the show does not shy away from exploring the various difficulties of adoption, mixed-race families, and the foster-care system.

Here is a retrospective of how transracial adoption has been portrayed in movies and film in the past few decades.

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  • Different Strokes 1 of 7
    Different Strokes
    Widowed millionaire Phillip Drummond made a promise to his dying housekeeper that he would take care of her two sons. This television comedy series followed the misadventures of Phillip as he raised his biological daughter Kimberly with his two adopted sons. While issues of race were occasionally explored, they were usually wrapped up by the end of the episode.

    Photo credit: Wall Street Journal
  • Easy A 2 of 7
    Easy A
    When Olive Penderghast lies to her best friend about losing her virginity, the rumor mill at her high school explodes. She discovers that she enjoys the attention and uses it to improve her social standing, until the situation spirals out of control. Olive's parents adopted her brother, who s African American. The only reference to the racial difference is in a hilarious scene in which the father pretends that this is a new revelation.

    Photo credit: They're All My Own
  • Hey Jessie 3 of 7
    Hey Jessie
    Jessie moves from Texas to New York City to pursue her dreams. In this Disney channel series, she takes a job as nanny for a multi-ethnic mix of four children adopted by a celebrity couple. There is little reference to race in this sticom, though one episode did explore an internationally adopted child's grief.

    Photo credit: Fanpop
  • Losing Isaiah 4 of 7
    Losing Isaiah
    A social worker and her husband adopt an African-American baby abandoned by his crack-addicted mother. Several years later, his biological mother finds out her baby isn't dead as she thought and goes to court to regain custody.

    Photo credit: Starz
  • The Blind Side 5 of 7
    The Blind Side
    Based on a true story, Michael "Big Mike" Oher grew up in the projects in Memphis with a drug-addicted mother. After bouncing from foster home to foster home and living on the streets, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy take him in and help him learn both the game of football and how to succeed in school.

    Photo credit: Oscars.org
  • Webster 6 of 7
    Webster
    Football player George Papadapolis and his wife Katherine were looking forward to retirement when they took in Webster, the orphaned son of a former teammate.

    Photo credit: PopCrunch
  • Yours, Mine, and Ours 7 of 7
    Yours, Mine, and Ours
    In this 2005 remake of the 1968 movie, Frank Beardsley is the father of 8, a 2-Star Admiral in the Coast Guard, and a widower. At their 30-year high school reunion, he reconnects with his high school sweetheart Helen North. She is also widowed with ten children, a multi-ethnic blend of biological and adopted. Despite their drastic personality differences, they marry immediately, and the children, who hate each other, unite in a full-scale war to end their parents' marriage.

    Photo credit: iCarly Wiki

I’m thrilled that ABC Family is centering a weekly show around a transracial family, and look forward to it’s primetime premiere on Monday, June 3rd.

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