Baby up for adoption on TV show
by LAURA BENJAMIN, Daily Mail
Five couples desperate for a child will be seen competing to adopt a baby on American television.
The programme, promoted as “the ultimate reality show”, follows a 16-year-old mother’s search for parents for her child.
It shows her interviewing the prospective parents before the birth and then the arrival of her baby.
It also shows the child settling in to a new home, being baptised and finally meeting the mother again in the television studio.
The show, titled Be My Baby, is to be broadcast as part of the respected ABC news programme 20/20.
Host Barbara Walters, herself an adoptive mother, presents the search tomorrow night.
The young mother, known only as Jessica, will be seen interviewing five sets of prospective parents.
Each try to convince her they are the most suitable to take care of her child. John Stossel, who hosts 20/20 alongside Miss Walters, said: “Barbara will bring you what might be called the ultimate reality show.
“As you watch, a pregnant teenager will decide which of five couples gets her baby.”
As the competing parents try to persuade Jessica they are Mr and Mrs Right, the teenager talks about “playing God”.
She refers to her initial interviews with the couples as the “elimination round”.
Complaints poured into the ABC network after commercials promoting the “reality show” theme were broadcast earlier this week.
As a result, a toned-down version will replace them in the lead-up to the programme.
“Amid the fury, ABC has pulled the original advert and replaced it with a toned-down version that presents the programme less as a reality show and more as a documentary,” a television insider said.
American radio journalist Jane Braverman, who is in the process of adopting a child, said: “While I haven’t seen the show, it sounds like the marketing department at ABC was attempting to add a reality TV spin, which is definitely an all-time low, especially when children are at stake.
“My friend’s teenage son, who was passing through the living room when the promotion was airing, even found it offensive. He said, “How could a child be a prize in a reality show?””
In the U.S. pregnant women planning to give up their babies can opt for open adoption, in which they play an active part in selecting their child’s new parents.
Real parent involved
The adoptive parents become involved with the mother-to-be before the birth and often stay in touch afterwards. Jeffrey Schneider, head of ABC’s publicity department, said the show simply documented Jessica’s experience as she went through the open adoption process.
“Clearly, the first promo that ran was leaving people with the wrong impression of what this hour is all about,” he said.
“It is a thoughtful report on the process of open adoption that we think will be of interest to the American people. Clearly, there is no competition.”
Jennifer Marando, director of an Ohio adoption agency which participated in the show, said she was dismayed by the tone of the commercials. “We chose to participate in order to educate people on open adoption,” she said. “But it’s not an education piece at this point. It’s an entertainment piece made into a reality-show theme.”
Be My Baby was shot over six months.
The couple chosen by Jessica to bring up her child will be revealed in tomorrow night’s programme.
A production source on the show said: “The producers shot a follow-up at the baptism and then again six months later to show that open adoption can be successful.”