TV review – Love Child

    Love Child

    ITV1

    9 and 16 January

    11.15pm

    Star Rating: 3/5

    Screened in two parts, Love Child proclaims to tell the story of
    adoption in Britain over the past 60 years. However, by the end of
    part one it is clear that this is not the full history, but how
    adoption was in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, writes Jonathan
    Pearce.

    Concentrating on unmarried mothers stigmatised by society, the
    documentary provides a powerful reminder of the impossible and
    heartbreaking situation in which many birth mothers found
    themselves. As a rule their choices were either a back-street
    abortion and all that entailed or running away to a mother and baby
    home where many of them were manipulated unfairly into having their
    children adopted by childless middle-class couples. Those who tried
    to thwart the system were sometimes at risk of being
    “sectioned”.

    When adopted people were able to trace their birth families from
    the mid-1970s onwards, the veil of secrecy around adoption was
    lifted. The stories told by the participants of those searches and
    reunion – successful or otherwise – are the glue that holds the
    documentary together.

    One cannot help but be deeply moved by the stories, and the long
    reach of adoptions made many decades in the past can be clearly
    felt in the present day. Although transracial adoption and issues
    of race are dealt with only briefly and adoptive parents’ views are
    not heard in detail, the documentary is an interesting overview of
    adoption in another era. However, the trail goes cold in the
    mid-1970s. There is no mention of the more difficult issues for
    today’s children who are adopted from the care system or the
    complex parenting issues facing adoptive parents since adoption
    moved away from placing “relinquished” (however inaccurate that
    term) babies. Without reference to the modern day context, such
    documentaries do little to dispel the many myths around
    adoption.

    Jonathan Pearce is director of Adoption UK, a national charity
    supporting prospective adopters, adoptive parents and long-term
    foster carers Screened in two parts, Love Child proclaims to tell
    the story of adoption in Britain over the past 60 years. However,
    by the end of part one it is clear that this is not the full
    history, but how adoption was in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s,
    writes Jonathan Pearce.

    Concentrating on unmarried mothers stigmatised by society, the
    documentary provides a powerful reminder of the impossible and
    heartbreaking situation in which many birth mothers found
    themselves. As a rule their choices were either a back-street
    abortion and all that entailed or running away to a mother and baby
    home where many of them were manipulated unfairly into having their
    children adopted by childless middle-class couples. Those who tried
    to thwart the system were sometimes at risk of being
    “sectioned”.

    When adopted people were able to trace their birth families from
    the mid-1970s onwards, the veil of secrecy around adoption was
    lifted. The stories told by the participants of those searches and
    reunion – successful or otherwise – are the glue that holds the
    documentary together.

    One cannot help but be deeply moved by the stories, and the long
    reach of adoptions made many decades in the past can be clearly
    felt in the present day. Although transracial adoption and issues
    of race are dealt with only briefly and adoptive parents’ views are
    not heard in detail, the documentary is an interesting overview of
    adoption in another era. However, the trail goes cold in the
    mid-1970s. There is no mention of the more difficult issues for
    today’s children who are adopted from the care system or the
    complex parenting issues facing adoptive parents since adoption
    moved away from placing “relinquished” (however inaccurate that
    term) babies. Without reference to the modern day context, such
    documentaries do little to dispel the many myths around
    adoption.

    Jonathan Pearce is director of Adoption UK, a national
    charity supporting prospective adopters, adoptive parents and
    long-term foster carers.

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