A few years back, Sesame Street ran a three-episode series on adoption. The episodes, in Season 37, are entitled “Gina Adopts a Baby” parts 1, 2, and 3, and are available for free viewing on Amazon Prime. It's available on Netflix streaming, too.
Gina, a veterinarian, has decided to adopt a baby from Guatemala. The first episode visits her prior to her departure. She reflects on meeting her baby for the first time. Over the story arc, Gina shares about adoption with curious Sesame Street characters, travels to Guatemala with Maria (a friend who will translate for her), and returns back to Sesame Street with baby Marco. Upon her return, Gina’s friends are effusively welcoming, but she is able to express the need for some quiet time. As the last of her friends bids her goodbye, Gina is finally alone with Marco and is able to breathe.
How Does This Connect to Adoption?
The episodes very directly connects to adoption. Gina explains adoption to her Sesame Street friends, and then adopts Marco. Elmo asks Gina, “What does adoption mean?” Gina explains, “It’s something very, very special. A baby, a little boy, needs someone to love him and take care of him. I want to be that person so I’ll adopt him and become his mom. He’ll come live here on Sesame Street and we’ll be a family.” The episodes provide an adopting parent’s-eye-view of adoption. After bringing Marco home, Gina reflects on her experience, “Mommy… that’s me. I can’t believe it. I’m your mommy now. I’m the person I’ve always been, but not just me. I’m your mommy now, and I’ll do everything a mommy needs to do – feed you and hold you, and together we’ll be a family.”
The show reaffirms the value of asking questions. It’s healthiest when kids are allowed to ask – and receive answers to – the questions on their minds.
Gina hopes to have Marco speak both Spanish and English.
One song portrays a positive, inclusive definition of family, “It doesn’t matter who you’re living with. If it’s love, you’re a family, living together and loving each other.”
Another song highlights a positive attitude of the friends of the new adoptive family, “We’ll make him feel at home because he’s coming to stay.”
It’s not certain that Gina’s learned any Spanish yet.
Because Marco is pre-verbal, the focus of the episode is firmly on Gina and her friends. I think the episode is intended to help young children understand adoption; it will probably do that, but it might have been nice had the adoptee been a bit older, and able to speak first-person.
Once in song and once in dialogue, Gina expresses that she and Marco were “meant for” each other. She means to express her love for Marco and her happiness about the adoption, and her intention to parent him. However, saying that the adoption was basically fated to be seems to be discounting of Marco’s birthparents. Speaking of…
There is no mention of Marco’s birth parents.
|spoiler alert: "yawn" starts with "y."|
It’s Sesame Street. Each hour-long episode leads off with 15 or 20 minutes of Gina’s story, and then proceeds to 40 minutes of talking about words that start with the letter “Y,” so even though I’m writing about three, hour-long episodes, you could watch the whole story arc in just about an hour. At their core, the episodes strike me as a good first introduction to adoption. Kids learn from stories, and having these episodes be part of a young child’s viewing rotation can be part of the process of normalizing adoption. The episodes are not a thorough, complete picture of adoption, but they do present a good place for kids to start learning about it. Think about watching this episode with your kids, 2-6.
|Gina and Marco are surrounded by friends.|
Questions for Discussion
Why did Gina want to adopt a baby?
What will Gina do for the baby?
How did Gina’s friends feel about her adoption of Marco?