While watching Glee with K, I had a Fox and the Hound moment. An F and H moment is an unexpectedly upsetting occurrence in a movie or show. Our first such moment took place when K was 2 or 3 during the movie The Fox and the Hound (hence the name), a supposedly heartwarming adventure about the friendship between a fox and a dog.
It’s a Disney movie so it had the obligatory violent death of the main character’s mother. Please see among others: Bambi, Finding Nemo and for an updated version where both parents suffer an untimely death, Lilo and Stitch. The fox was taken in by a kindly woman and became friends with a dog owned by the hunter next door. After an incident where the hunter (another group which typically doesn’t fare well under the Disney treatment) tried to kill the fox, the woman decided the fox would be better off back in the forest and returned him there.
When the woman drove away, K became inconsolable. “She left him! She left him! His mommy left him!” Since his mom had been dead for a while, I was briefly confused. “She left him! She left him!” Of course. The woman was the mommy. The fact that they were two different species didn’t make her any less of a mother. I held K close and comforted her as best I could. “She took him there to be safe. He will see her again [oh I hope so!]. It will be okay.” The fox found a mate. After a scary scene involving the hunter and a bear, he resumed his friendship with the dog. He occasionally looked at his old farm from a distance and seemed content. K watched the movie a few more times until she made her peace with it. She announced she would never watch it again. I threw it away and detest The Fox and the Hound to this day.
Flash forward with me ten plus years to last week’s episode of Glee. K and I love Glee for the music and the dancing. I also appreciate the respect for differences that is conveyed through the cast of beloved characters. The adoption story line has swayed back and forth from believable to tough to take but it has offered plenty of opportunity for discussion. We’ve seen Rachel find her birth mother and wrestle with what that relationship is and could/should be. We’ve seen Quinn place her baby for adoption. Please note Glee writers: I said place for adoption not “give her up.”
After appearing to be unfazed by the placement, Quinn is now struggling with her feelings around it. The adoptive mom is working through how to make a more open adoption possible. Puck, the birth father, is eager for an opportunity to be involved in the baby’s life — all great themes to discuss and explore. I think it’s important for kids who were adopted to understand that it wasn’t an easy decision for their birth parents. I think it’s important for all kids to understand the painful decisions and consequences that result from a teen pregnancy.
My F and H moment was during the show’s conclusion. Quinn turned to Puck and said “we’ve got to get her back.” There it is – the birth mother “taking the baby back” angle. I am hopeful the story will be about Quinn understanding that it’s not an option. I am hopeful it doesn’t turn into a story that feeds the misconceptions about adoption that has led all of us to hear at some point “but aren’t you afraid they’ll take the baby back?” If it does, I’m not as powerless as I was with that fox. We’ll talk about the difference between what writers do for television ratings and what’s true. We’ll talk about how we’ll respond to people who don’t know as much about adoption as we do and how we’ll set them straight. Maybe we’ll send an email to Glee and let them know how we feel. Finally, we’ll decide if we can still watch and disagree with the portrayal or whether we won’t watch at all. After all, the writers may control the story but we control the remote.