There’s a Jockey ad that’s been making the rounds in the last few weeks featuring a father and his son, and I can’t seem to get it out of my head. It begins with the camera on a man grinning, his eyes filled with adoration. But only as the camera pulls back does the audience see that a tiny baby is cradled against the man’s chest. It’s his son, we soon learn; and the dad-and-baby love alone is attention-grabbing — particularly in today’s culture, which still places more value and responsibility on moms than dads when it comes to child-rearing. But there was also one other part about the ad that caught my eye: the dad featured in the video white, while his baby is black. As the white mom of three black children by adoption, you can bet this didn’t escape my attention.
The campaign, called “Show ‘em What’s Underneath,” isn’t just clever in the way it puts Jockey’s products on display; it also tugs at viewers’ heartstrings by showcasing a family like mine: one formed by transracial adoption. I’ll be honest, at first I wondered, What does underwear really have to do with adoption? But this dad’s lack of clothing leaves us to be part of an intimate moment: a father who is skin-to-skin with his son, reflecting a state of transparency and vulnerability. And it’s simply brilliant.
“A few weeks ago it was just me and my wife. And now, I’m a dad,” the father shares, before opening up about the struggle he and his wife Bridget endured while trying to conceive prior to adopting. “Vincent’s birth mother is amazing,” he continues. “The strongest person I’ve ever met. And she picked us. That’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Though the ad lasts just barely over a minute, it’s heartfelt and moving to watch. Jockey isn’t the only company highlighting adoption in their advertisements lately, though.
Honey Maid’s commercial “Little Brothers” has been viewed over 35,000 times since its release three months ago. The ad begins with a little boy saying, “Sometimes all people see is that we have different skin colors.” Image after image shows two boys, one with brown skin and one with peach skin, interacting with one another, including (of course) the boys making a snack together using Honey Maid graham crackers. The peach skin boy says, “I don’t use the word adopted, because you aren’t my adopted brother. You’re just my little brother.”
But that’s just the beginning: General Mills, Wendy’s, Wells Fargo, and Shutterfly have all featured real adoption stories in recent ads. And while, yes, there are obvious financial advantages the companies stand to benefit by using heartwarming adoption tales in their ads, there’s another upside to it all that families like mine are bound to appreciate: These ads are also educating the public on adoption, and actively working to normalize it in the process.
When my husband and I adopted our first child almost eight years ago, adoption was rarely present in mainstream media. Thus, the only way anyone outside the adoption community could learn about adoption was to personally seek out and talk to families like mine. However, in recent years, adoption has been incorporated into not only ads from major corporations, but also many popular television shows, including Doc McStuffins, Modern Family, Jessie, The Foster’s, and Gray’s Anatomy.
And for that, I am beyond thankful. If an ad or television show is able to accurately represent some degree of adoption, it’s beneficial to my family and the thousands of other families-by-adoption across the country.
To start, they help create a level of awareness that over 100,000 children in the United States’ foster care system are available for adoption, and eagerly waiting for a family. Often when someone learns that our children were adopted, their response is, “I’ve always wanted to adopt.” Yet due to stereotypes surrounding the adoption process, financial concerns, and other personal circumstances, many people choose not to pursue adopting themselves. The truth is, there are many types of adoption, and one option — adopting a child from the domestic foster care system — is generally free.
Commercials and films that feature adoption quite simply remind others that there are different ways to build a family, and it isn’t any less authentic. Parenthood is parenthood, siblinghood is siblinghood, and family is family. Yes, adopting can bring about unique challenges, but the love between any parent and child coming together by adoption isn’t any less because the two do not share DNA. When we’re asked if our kids are “real” siblings, for example, my answer is always yes! And we are our children’s real parents, just like their birth parents are also “real.” It’s ALL real. And it’s a beautiful thing to see the media finally portraying that.More On