Eastenders on Adoption

A recent episode of Eastenders had one adoptive parent screaming at her TV, we’ll let her tell you why.

I have always been very impressed that one of Eastender’s longest serving characters, Sharon (played by the lovely Letitia Dean) has the backstory of being adopted. This shows adoption is a lifelong issue and the BBC have usually dealt with it well. I could not believe my ears when (on 2nd March) Sharon repeatedly referred to finding her “real mum” and “real dad”. I have also recently been treated to the same on Waterloo Road which my boys watch so not just a one off.

eastendersI have been an (adoptive) mum for 11 years and usually deal with this kind of insensitive language in a practiced way. For young children who ask me if I am my son’s real mum, – I just ask them to pinch me to see if I am real. With adults, I gently but firmly correct them by saying – ‘you mean their birth  or biological parents’.

Eastender’s is the top UK soap watched by millions  therefore it is involved in forming views and the use of language, as is Waterloo Road. I don’t think it is too PC therefore to ask them to get it right.Following these episodes with this story line, adopted kids will have been asked in the playground about their ‘real parents’ and from first- hand experience it is painful and confusing for them.  The words ‘real mum’ always make me cross, every time.

So, is it just me being sensitive or should the BBC script writers be more careful. After all, in the complicated world of soap operas characters rarely seem to be living with their ‘real’ family. Increasingly in today’s society children are raised by step parents or other family members who they may call mum or dad. I would be interested to know other peoples views.

6 thoughts on “Eastenders on Adoption

  1. Gem

    I totally agree with you. I guess many angry adoptees might use the same terminology as Sharon but the portrayal doesn’t help educate people. Mind you Angie and Den weren’t sterling examples of adoptive parents either!

  2. The Giggles Family

    I don’t think you’re bring too sensitive. They have the resources to research every issue thoroughly, and if they did, would find out about the issue of using “real” parents very quickly. Worth writing to them about I say! I wonder if now Sharon is an adult, the newer writers haven’t looked into adoption enough before continuing the storyline?

  3. Helen

    Grrrrr, it makes me seethe. But, tbh, it’s everywhere. My mother said it to me once, my head nearly came off, she’s never said it since. For my 2, their real Mum is the person who wipes bottoms, dispenses Calpol, kisses things better, goes on the internet to ask Goggle ‘what is a volcano’, stumbles about wearily at 5am to ‘tuck me in, please Mummy’. None of that is anything to do with biology but it’s everything to do with loving my kids so much it actually hurts.

  4. shayna

    I don’t think you’re oversensitive; programme makers have a duty to present such issues in a fair, balanced and sensitive way; not to propagate stereotypes and ignorance.

  5. Leanne Eastwood

    I don’t think you are being over sensitive. I’ve just this week had a really close friend share on Facebook a post by a who’s son will now be 18 and was adopted 16yrs ago with a photo of him and his son as a baby, say please share and help me find my son. It even named the parents of his son and and where they had lived. I wonderif I am being over sensitive to this because I feel angry, how thoughtless! I don’t know how to feel about it and how to react. I think a good thing is Eastenders has shown in a reasonable way that it is life long not just during the adoption process. If It gets people thinking that’s good. Should be thought out fully though and handled with care.


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