Tag Archives: media

What Does It Mean When It Is Entertainment?

I’m moved to write this by a post today on The Adopted Ones blog, which is itself inspired by this TV listing.   There’s a new reality show out there and the hook is we watch young women thinking about giving up their children for adoption.

What does it mean when decisions about adoption become the stuff of reality TV?   I suppose it means we’ve come a long way from the days it was a deep and dark secret, but really, is it all progress?  I’m inclined to agree with the criticism you’ll see on the Adopted Ones blog, but there’s more than that to bother me.   This isn’t entertainment–it’s real life and it’s serious and it’s not for us to sit around and watch.  Then again, I suppose we (as a culture) do a lot of that these days.

I was thinking about entertainment already today because I picked up a guide for the Seattle International Film Festival this morning.   Perhaps it is no longer a surprise, but my topics here are now the stuff of cinematic exploration.

Starbuck is the opening night feature in Kirkland (a Seattle suburb, if you are wondering.)  Continue reading

Sean Goldman One More Time: Because Family Sagas Never Really End?

There’s been a very long and very high profile legal struggle over the fate of a (now 11-year-old) boy named Sean Goldman that I have written about from time to time.  (That link will pick up most of the entries and probably a few stray items as well.)  The last post was over a year ago and I thought I was done then.

But it seems family sagas (or at least some family sagas) never end.   Here’s the story back in today’s news.  The immediate trigger here seems to be that Sean Goldman himself will for the first time be interviewed on TV tonight.

I won’t recap the story in detail here as you can read the history a dozen places on the web, including my old posts.   Continue reading

Genetics and The Extended Family

Here’s a thought-provoking story from the front page of the NYT.   As is often the case it is worth reading because I’m sure different things will strike different people.  I’m just going to touch on a couple of things that strike me.

Khrys Vaughn learned she was adopted when she was 42.    She decided to search for her origins by using a company that provides DNA testing and then matches you up with people you’re related to.   Through this process she located a third-cousin, Jennifer Grigsby.   Continue reading

The Father of Michael Jackson’s Children?

Just because the tabloids are all over every aspect of the Michael Jackson story doesn’t mean there aren’t a few interesting points that could actually make one think.  I’ve written about Michael Jackson’s children and the legal questions presented there a couple of times.   (I didn’t post when permanant custody of the kids was awarded to Katherine Jackson, their grandmother, but a court order to that effect was issued last week.)  

So here is the next twist in the saga–one that was almost inevitable given the fact that it has been widely rumored that Michael Jackson was not genetically related to his children.   Mark Lester–he played Oliver Twist in the musical Oliver! and I do vividly recall him singing “Who Will Buy,”–says that he donated sperm for Jackson and may well be genetically related to at least the middle child and only girl, Paris. Continue reading

The Wrong Sperm

A month or so ago I wrote about a wrong embryo case in Japan.   Here’s news of a case in the same general genre (ART mistakes) from the UK.    The story is pretty simple and I’m not sure how much there is to say about it.   The reporting seems a tad more interesting.

Three couples were using IVF at the same London hospital.   It appears that these were different sex couples and for each couple the plan was to use sperm from the man and an egg from the woman, to create an embryo, and then to transfer the embryo into the woman’s uterus.   The problem, for each of these three couples, was that they used the wrong sperm.

Now in this instance the mistake was caught within hours–it’s not clear to me that fertilization had even occurred.   This is quite a bit different from the case in Japan where the embryo was transferred and pregnancy resulted.   As soon as the mistakes were discovered, the sperm and eggs were discarded.    Continue reading

The Media on Teenage Mothers, Unmarried Mothers and Unmarried Teenage Mothers

Yesterday I wrote about the release of the newest statistics on whose giving birth in the US.   There’s a lot of information to digest there and of course, it isn’t easy to figure out what it all means.  You can spend some time reading the actual CDC release.   But after that you might turn to the media to help give the statistics some meaning.  I just wanted to offer a couple of quick notes on the coverage I’ve seen.

I linked to a couple of media reports yesterday–the NYTimes and MSNBC, which is running AP’s story.   I think the AP version is the more widespread story.  The lead in that one is about the rising number of unwed births.   The NYT gets to that point pretty quickly, too.

It’s noteworthy that the rise in unmarried births isn’t immediately portrayed as a bad thing.   Indeed, the AP story notes both that some happily unmarried couples have children and that some women are having consciously choosing children on their own.   (It seems to me that AP misses an obvious point when it doesn’t note that some of the happily unmarried couple parents are surely same-sex couples who would actually like to be married couples.)  Continue reading

From the Sports Pages

Within the past week, on consecutive days, there were two interesting articles in the New York Times sports section.   They’re especially interesting if you take them together.

Both are about sports figures who are also parents.   The first article is about Travis Henry, a professional football player,  who has had nine children with nine different women.   (There’s also an accompanying short bit about his lawyer, that notes some other similar situations with sports figures.)     The second article is about Brynn Cameron, a female college basketball player who is the single mother of a two year old.

There’s a part of me that thinks I should just stop writing here and say “See?”   I mean, isn’t there something pretty obvious here.  This is gender compounded.   First (and less importantly), because a female sports figure and a male sports figure typically exist in different worlds.   Second, and for my purposes, far more importantly, because sex/gender matters when it comes to parenthood.  Even the most sensationally successful female sports figure isn’t going to be the mother of nine children, each conceived with a different man.   Continue reading


Just a couple of quick notes here.

This is definitely more than fifteen minutes of fame, but then, new players keep coming out of the woodwork.  First there was the mother. (I won’t call her “octomom” as I noted yesterday.)   Then there was the “father.” Now comes the grandfather.

I just noticed that the link to that piece includes “octomedia”.  Doesn’t that just say it all?  As the end of the grandfather article makes clear, this is now a mad scramble in which every media outlet wants a piece of the action.  Public frenzy is a good sell.  I’m guessing that anger and scorn are probably a better basis for frenzy than are approval, too.   It simply seems to be in everyone’s interest (save, of course, for the fourteen children) to turn this into as much of a circus as possible.

And here is a version of the story I blogged on yesterday with the author’s name attached–John Rogers.  Credit where credit is due.

Parentage–Patriotic and Political

I realize I’m not even managing to keep up with my quite leisurely summer schedule.  I can only hope that those of you who read this are also enjoying a leisurely time.   And I can invoke a minor back injury that has kept me from being quite so on top of it.   In any event, the schedule has slipped. 

I’ve not really been doing current events, because I cannot really get to a computer on line with any frequency, so there’s basically no chance my events would actually be current.   But this one is a bit hard to resist. 

From today’s (yes, actually today’s) New York Times comes this story about governmental efforts to encourage Russians to marry and have children–preferably sooner rather than later.   There’s really not that much that connects with my blog here, beyond the simple point that becoming parents can be understood as a political act–in this case, as a patriotic one.   Plus, it is interesting to see that the concern about two parent families, more particularly about the role of fathers in families, reaches beyond the borders of the US.

Really the political nature of parentage isn’t new at all.   The political nature of parenthood is readily apparent in the struggles over lesbian and gay parentage, some of which I’ve discussed here.  But at issue in Russia is the most conventional configuration of parentage–married male/female parents.   And as the story makes clear, even that can be, in the right place and time, political.

The Norm of Gendered Parenting

This was spurred by both recent media coverage and my ongoing thread on holding out/de facto parentage.

In New York Times Style section  a couple of weeks ago (what can I say, it is summer after all) there was an article about men who have resume gaps because of engaging in child care.  The point of the article is that for women, resume gaps (periods of time out of the workplace when they have been taking care of kids) have become routine and so, at least to a degree, acceptable.   Not so for men.

This article is testimony both to the exceptions and the rule.   Increasingly, men are taking time off to take care of kids.  Or at least men want to.  Or at least some men want to.   Enough so that this is an issue.   But there aren’t enough men who are actually doing it, or the phenomena is too new, to be well understood and accepted.  Thus, while women can apparently take time off are return to work (a skeptically raised eyebrow here?  Is this so clearly true?), men cannot.   Perhaps it’s more reasonable to say that it is easier (which is not to say easy) for women to do this than for men, because women who do this are conforming to some expectation while men who do this are defying one. Continue reading