One of the things I take note of is how adoption and foster care is portrayed in popular culture. I happen to like to watch crime/investigation/law shows but don’t have the chance to watch them as they air – so as usual I was up late one night recently when I caught CSI-New York. A character in the episode, portrayed by Sela Ward, was shown with her daughter Ellie, who is played by a multi-racial black teen (Sydney Park). I poked my husband and said, “Really? They are actually going to have a white female lead on a network news show that has a biracial child? I’ll bet she [the daughter] is adopted.”
The joke – or rather, the intuition – was on me, because of course I was right. Unfortunately there are some things you still can’t do on network television, such as having a white female lead with a mixed-race black child unless said child is adopted.
As typical, this information is exchanged through an irritating conversation between Ward’s character Jo and Mac Taylor, played by Gary Sinise, in which the character of Mac waxes on about how Jo “saved” this girl, blah blah blah. There was a lot of cringe-inducing language regarding Jo’s adoption of Ellie.
Here is a clip of Sela Ward talking about the adoption theme. I didn’t realize that Sela Ward started an “orphanage” in her home state of Mississippi, the Hope Village for Children. They show a clip of an upcoming episode on this video that reveals that “Jo” basically put her daughter’s mother in jail and “rescued” her from becoming a foster child through the CPS system (episode 18). Another clip here.