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Is adoption in fiction necessarily melodramatic?:

 1 Connor Bible, Tue, 16th Apr '13 6:03:48 PM from Port Royal, SC
Southern Style Scribe
For some reason, I'm awfully, awfully cynical about the subject matter of adoption. I blame the Esoteric Happy Ending of Juno for shattering my faith in humanity. As an aspiring fiction writer, I find it a pain in the ass to write an adoption novel because I find most portrayals of the subject unrealistic and melodramatic. It's nothing but happy, happy joyjoyjoy Glurge, just like the pro-lifers want you to believe. In reality, there are plenty of adoption horror stories that are brushed under the rug in the name of gathering new followers to the cause, or God, or whatever.

We live in cynical, dark times. Why not have a cynical, dark adoption story?

edited 16th Apr '13 6:05:11 PM by ConnorBible

 2 Morwen Edhelwen, Tue, 16th Apr '13 6:34:48 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
@Connor: You mean like the story of Sigurd and Fafnir from Norse mythology and Icelandic folklore, where:

The hero Sigurd the Volsung is adopted by the dwarf Regin, who turns out to be using him to get at a dragon's hoard?.

Something like this passage from my own version of this famous Icelandic folktale, titled Fafnir's Bane:

He looked at me carefully. “Yes, I knew you’d understand. This is your chance to prove yourself. Don’t you want that? He deserves death, my child. He’d ruin the kingdom. He’s no brother of mine, no kin to me. And I love you very much. ”

“Yeah, but Svafnir’s not just a dragon.” I said. “You said he’s a necromancer and shapeshifter. I’m too young. I don’t know any magic. ”

There was silence. “Please, Sigurd, ” he pleaded, looking straight at me. “You know how much I love you.” Ah, the “love” line. The old guilt trip.

I knew what was coming next. “I’d never put you in danger. Do you think that? Do I look - or sound- like someone who’d put you in danger to you?”

“No, but—“ I said, trying to keep my temper.

He gazed at me with that same look. “If you go back on this, I’ll have raised a coward. You don’t want to be a coward, do you? Could you do this for an old dwarf who loves you more than anything else and can’t do it himself? Could you make old Regin proud?”

edited 16th Apr '13 6:38:55 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
 3 Connor Bible, Tue, 16th Apr '13 6:37:37 PM from Port Royal, SC
Southern Style Scribe
[up]You could say that. At the very least, adoptive parents are only human. They're as prone to human foibles and vices as anyone else, and not the saints the pro-lifers paint them as.

 4 Morwen Edhelwen, Tue, 16th Apr '13 6:43:13 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
@Connor: A lot of people portray adoptive parents as saints, but I think more people portray birth parents as saints. You know, "I could never give my child up" and stuff like that.
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
 5 Connor Bible, Tue, 16th Apr '13 6:56:28 PM from Port Royal, SC
Southern Style Scribe
[up]I've considered writing an adoption story of my own that doesn't involve all that dark stuff. The problem is: where would the conflict come from? Nothing big or exciting would happen.

So you're trying to make a story about adoption where the drama DOESN'T come from anything related to the adoption? Or are you trying to do a not-dramatic story centered around adoption?
 
 7 Connor Bible, Tue, 16th Apr '13 7:12:42 PM from Port Royal, SC
Southern Style Scribe
[up]I don't know, to be honest. Most of what I write (or attempt to write, due to a combination of writer's block and clinical depression) is dark. Very, very dark. I wish I could do something that would gross out, terrify, or depress people. Something uplifting.

 8 Morwen Edhelwen, Tue, 16th Apr '13 7:50:30 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
@Connor: I thought you wanted to write a cynical adoption story. Can you please explain what you're talking about?
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
 9 Night, Tue, 16th Apr '13 7:54:07 PM from PSNS Intrepid Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Who you are does not matter.
As an adoptee, I find drama from adoptions terribly overplayed.
"Remember that you are fighting the machine and the pilot both, but you only have to beat one of them."
Adoption is not simple; it is expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally intense. For the parents, there's the desperation of not being able to make your own kid (because most adopters have serios difficulty procreating) and the fear that you won't love them as if they were your own. For the kids, there's the fear of being rejected (because most adoptees have had two or three close calls) and the uncertainty of moving to a new place and being surrounded by strangers. Also, most adopters want babies or toddlers, so older adoptees can become depressed.

If you're TRYING to create some horror story, then you can play on the "evil child" or "evil parent" fear. If you're trying to AVOID a horror story, then you should focus on the real issues of adoption. Adoption isn't about people being saints or living "happily ever after", it's about people trying to build families.

Cynicism is all well and good when it's logical, but when you're being cynical just to be cynical, you're putting yourself and other people in boxes. At the end of the day, you have to be true to your story, but I'd suggest you set aside the dark stuff and just write about people going through a scary/painful process. Good lucksmile
Winter is coming.
Were you expecting Juno to end tragically? It's just not that kind of story. I'm not saying it was a good movie but the idea that a girl can get pregnant, have the baby, give it up and then be ok afterwards is valid. I'm not saying that's what always happens, but it can happen.

Adoption in media traditionally had a stigma. Finding out you were adopted or that someone you know had given up a child was treated as some kind of horrible family secret. Also either the birth parents or the adopted parents would be bad people.

If some recent adoption stories seem to be all sunshine and rainbows it's probably just an overcorrection.

If you want a recent example of adoption as a "bad" thing look at Once Upon a Time. A woman has a baby in jail gives him up and he is adopted by the Evil Queen.

Honestly it's my least favorite thing about that show .

I've seen adoption be a great thing in real life. My cousin is adopted and she knows it and she's awesome. The birth mother was a teenager, I always hope she's ok because she gave my family an amazing gift. The kid is smart, funny and talented (if a bit bossy). She looks nothing like us (we're white she's Japanise) and that is totally ok. As the youngest (she's 10) she lights up my grandparents whole world.

I feel like adoption is portrayed negatively way too often. I'm sensitive to it because I love my little cousin.

edited 17th Apr '13 1:32:09 AM by HistoryMaker

 12 Connor Bible, Wed, 17th Apr '13 5:01:36 AM from Port Royal, SC
Southern Style Scribe
@Morwen: I may have been somewhat sarcastic in the final line of my OP.

[up][up]Yes, adoption is quite a complex deal in reality. There are a lot of emotions and lives that become interconnected.

I've always had this one concept about the relationship between a boy and his adoptive mother, but frankly, I have no real story.

 13 Redneck Rocker, Wed, 17th Apr '13 5:36:37 AM from None Of Your Business
First Loyalty: Yourself
In the Wee Hughie miniseries from Garth Ennis' The Boys, the titular character is adopted. Rather than have the "Who are my real parents? Why did they abandon me?" mentality, as far as he's concerned, Mr. and Mrs. Campbell have always been his folks.

edited 17th Apr '13 6:00:39 AM by RedneckRocker

Embroiled in slave rebellion, I escaped crucifixion simply by declaring 'I am Vito', everyone else apparently being called 'Spartacus'.
 14 Khantalas, Wed, 17th Apr '13 5:37:53 AM from ((Not actually a creepy adorable little girl.))
Creepy adorable little girl
Also, his biological spawners never even enter the picture. There are about two pages dedicated to them, and how he no longer thinks about them, and that's it. They don't show up all of a sudden or anything.
"Be mine, dear big brother."
 15 joeyjojo, Thu, 18th Apr '13 1:58:43 AM from South of Norway Relationship Status: Get out of here, STALKER
Oh Kitty
@Conner bible: Honestly I think most adoption in fiction is depicted fairly negative as it is.
 16 Twentington, Thu, 18th Apr '13 2:08:45 AM from Somewhere Relationship Status: Desperate
Mustelidae = awesome
My sister was adopted at birth. Her birth mother is my first cousin, who was about 18 when she had her. My sister has always been a smart, athletic type. She never seemed fazed at the fact that she was adopted, and gets along pretty well with her birth mother.

I had planned to use adoption from birth in the story I'm writing, too.
Windmill, windmill for the land / Is everybody in?

 17 joeyjojo, Thu, 18th Apr '13 2:34:42 AM from South of Norway Relationship Status: Get out of here, STALKER
Oh Kitty
while not exactly contemporary but if you want to make a story about abortion cynical. You can look at the forced adoption practices of the 'baby scoop' era. That destroyed lives.

That said have to question your motivation OP.

 18 demarquis, Thu, 18th Apr '13 8:14:30 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
To answer the OP, there is no reason. If that is what you want to write, then go for it.

If, on the other hand, you want to depict adoption realistically, then do some homework. There's plenty of adoptive children and parents who tell their stories on the web. There's plenty of realistic human drama that can come out of adoption, without going into dark, cynical territory. To take just one example, what happens when an adopted child decides to go find their birth parent? That can have all kinds of complicated consequences without veering off into either glurge or horror.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 19 Connor Bible, Thu, 18th Apr '13 12:58:52 PM from Port Royal, SC
Southern Style Scribe
[up]Yeah, but realism doesn't sell today. It doesn't help matters that I primarily write science fiction, horror, and thrillers.

 20 Editor Pall Mall, Thu, 18th Apr '13 1:10:41 PM from United States, East Coast
Don't Fear the Spiders
Firstly, the subject of adaption is not inherently a pro-life issue although it can be related. There will always be children born into broken families, parents unable to raise their own children due to forces outside of their control, and orphaned children. Even someone who is vehemently pro-choice would see this.

Further, those who are pro-life are not naively thinking adaption is some magic cure-all for any unborn child who's mother is considering termination. Given they are parents themselves, and also given some of them adopt themselves, they know the dangers. The alternative, killing a fetus, is considered worse by them.

To me, this comes off as a personal gripe getting in the way of your writing.

edited 18th Apr '13 1:11:18 PM by EditorPallMall

Keep it breezy!
 21 Connor Bible, Thu, 18th Apr '13 1:14:10 PM from Port Royal, SC
Southern Style Scribe
[up]You're right. I'm what you could call a "method writer"; I have a tendency to get personally involved with my stories to the point I could easily be a character. Some people I talk to about this style consider it psychologically unhealthy.

edited 18th Apr '13 1:15:15 PM by ConnorBible

realism doesn't sell today.

I'm not sure if I agree with this, depending on what you mean by realism. Look at the NYT best-seller list - there are a few fantasy/sci-fi books there, but mostly it's fairly grounded-in-reality stuff.
Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
 23 demarquis, Thu, 18th Apr '13 5:29:27 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
"...realism doesn't sell today."

I'm going to have to disagree. "Gritty" style realism seems to be all that sells today, in any genre, from sci-fi/fantasy to contemporary literature.

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 24 nrjxll, Thu, 18th Apr '13 5:50:14 PM Relationship Status: Not war
Believe me, most "gritty" fiction is anything but realistic.

/vanishes again

 25 Night, Thu, 18th Apr '13 6:14:02 PM from PSNS Intrepid Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Who you are does not matter.
Some people I talk to about this style consider it psychologically unhealthy.

I wouldn't consider it unhealthy, but I'd probably consider it bad writing. Actors get invested, because they've got to believe. Writers aren't actors. They're directors and producers and writers. You don't have to believe, you have to create verisimilitude.

edited 18th Apr '13 6:15:03 PM by Night

"Remember that you are fighting the machine and the pilot both, but you only have to beat one of them."
Total posts: 27
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