Teen pregnancy and adoption are two topics often portrayed in the media. In many instances, teen pregnancy and adoption are not portrayed accurately because the goal of the media is to entertain and not necessarily to educate. You can find teen pregnancy and adoption incorrectly portrayed throughout books, movies, and television shows; while some portray teen pregnancy and adoption together others just portray one or the other. Read on to find several examples of teen pregnancy and adoption in the media.
Secret Life of the American Teenager
The Secret Life of the American Teenager is a television series that ran from 2008 to 2013. With only five seasons, this television series follows the journey of Amy Juergens from teenage pregnancy to parenthood. At only 15 years of age, Amy has sex with Ricky Underwood, a very handsome and popular boy. Over the course of the first season, Amy struggles with the decision to keep her baby. She eventually makes the decision to parent her child with the support of her family and friends. She gave birth to John at the end of season one. Ricky later finds out he is the father of Amy’s baby and agrees to be a part of the child’s life. Amy and Ricky struggle to parent John, but over the course of the series, they fall in love and decide to elope. At the end of the series, Amy leaves Ricky to attend college in New York. This leaves Ricky to single parent a child. This series captured the attention of 4.68 million viewers. You can view this series on Hulu, Freeform, and Amazon Prime.
After by Amy Efaw
After is a book written by Amy Efaw that chronicles the journey of a fifteen-year-old girl from denial to acceptance. While still a teenager, Devon Davenport suddenly finds herself being charged with attempted murder. Throughout the course of this novel, Devon discovers that her crime involved giving birth to a baby and dumping the infant in the trash. Devon was a straight-A student and was a star soccer player until the day she gave birth. She couldn’t believe it and went into complete denial. With the help of the police, a lawyer, and time in juvenile detention, Devon eventually begins to accept that she had been pregnant and she accepts the fact that she did throw away the baby. In the end, Devon makes the decision to plead guilty. After does a remarkable job of capturing the story of what a young mother faces after dealing with teen pregnancy. This book is geared toward 12-18-year-olds and it is a great read if you are curious about the after-effects of teen pregnancy.
16 and Pregnant
16 and pregnant is a television series that captured the stories of high schoolers facing teen pregnancy. Airing from 2009 to 2014, each episode featured a different girl in the midst of her teen pregnancy beginning between four and a half months and eight months of pregnancy and ending when the baby is a few months old. During each episode, viewers can watch a teenage girl face the challenges of teen pregnancy, adoption, marriage, finances, and graduating high school. When it first aired, its intention was to prevent teen pregnancy by showing teenage girls the realities of teen pregnancy and motherhood. Research showed mixed results in regards to the show’s help with early intervention in teen pregnancy prevention. Some studies found the show to be extremely successful in helping to prevent teen pregnancy and others found the show to unlikely have an effect on the prevention of teen pregnancy. The documentary-style show portraying teen pregnancy was found to be the most popular in rural parts of the country. The producers of the show later produced five spin-off series titled Teen Mom, Teen Mom 2, Teen Mom 3, Teen Mom: Young and Pregnant, and 16 and Recovering.
Juno is a movie that chronicles the year a young girl suddenly found herself pregnant. Juno is a junior in high school who had sexual relations with her best friend Bleeker. Juno visits an abortion clinic where she encounters a school-mate holding a one-person pro-life vigil. While in the waiting room, Juno ultimately decides to continue the pregnancy and place the baby for adoption. While searching the Pennysaver for adoption ads, Juno finds a couple who she believes will make a suitable family for her baby. With the support of her father, Juno meets the couple and agrees to a closed adoption. Throughout the pregnancy, Juno struggles with feelings for Bleeker and the Lorings’ marriage falls apart leaving Vannessa to be a single adoptive parent. In the end, Vannessa adopts Juno’s baby boy, and Juno and Bleeker fall in love. As a portrayal of teen pregnancy and adoption, it is a good movie. It does an excellent job of portraying the struggles a teen with an unplanned pregnancy faces such as choosing between abortion, adoption, and parenting.
Where the Heart Is
Where the Heart Is is a movie based on a novel by Billie Letts. It follows five years in the life of Novalee Nation. At just 17 years old, she accidentally becomes pregnant. When she is seven months pregnant, Novalee and her boyfriend Willy Jack Pickens decide to move from Tennessee to California. On the way, they stop at a Walmart in Oklahoma so Novalee can use the restroom and buy some new shoes. When she finishes checking out and returns to the car, she realizes that she is abandoned in a town where she doesn’t know anyone and has nowhere to go. Novalee decides to move into Walmart where she later gives birth to her baby. Novalee and her baby, Americus are taken in by Thelma “Sister” Husband. Years later, Thelma passes away leaving her estate to Novalee and Americus. Where the Heart Is portrays a unique teen pregnancy yet also shows the challenges a young mother may face such as homelessness and unemployment. It is a heart-wrenching movie that is a must-see.
Into Magnolia by Rosemary Hines
Into Magnolia is a novel that tells the stories of Amber Gamble and her teacher, Michelle Baron, who begins her first year teaching at Magnolia Middle School. As 180 students file in her classroom daily, Michelle focuses her attention on one particular student, Amber Gamble. Amber is currently living in her third foster home in a year. Amber’s bitterness and rebellion inspire Michelle to try to make a difference in this young girl’s life. Filled with bitterness and anger, Amber seeks to find happiness with an older boy. They become intimate and suddenly Amber becomes pregnant. Unsure of her choices, she approaches Michelle. Eventually Amber asks Michelle if she and her husband would adopt her baby. After much prayer, Michelle and her husband agree to adopt Amber’s baby. The third book in a series of 8 books, Into Magnolia, does a wonderful job of portraying teen pregnancy and adoption. I highly recommend the entire series titled the Sandy Cove Series.
The Blind Side
The Blind Side is a 2009 American film that follows the story of an American football offensive lineman named Michael. In the story, Michael is a seventeen-year-old who has been in foster care due to his mother’s drug addiction. Michael ends up homeless after running away from his foster home. He later encounters and befriends a younger student named SJ. SJ’s mother invites Michael to spend the night on their couch after learning that he would be sleeping outside the closed gym. After spending some time with him, the family adopts Michael and he goes on to attend college at the University of Mississippi. This is a true story and does a great job of portraying multiracial adoption. It is a must-see if you are interested in multiracial adoption and how it affects everyone involved.
Annie is an American film originally produced in 1982. Based in New York, Annie tells the story of young orphan Annie who was left on the doorstep of the Hudson St. Home For Girls, which is run by Miss Hannigan. Annie is optimistic about her parents returning one day to retrieve her. One day, Grace, a secretary to the billionaire Oliver Warbucks, arrives at the home to invite an orphan to stay with the billionaire for a week to improve his public image. Mr. Warbucks eventually begins to develop an affection for Annie and adopts her. This is a great film, however, if you watch it you need to know that it is not an accurate depiction of adoption. Billionaires don’t usually adopt and adoption is more than just signing papers. In order for someone to adopt, they have to go through a process that includes completing a home study and court proceedings. It’s important to keep the setting in mind since this movie is more of a portrayal of adoption in the 1930s.
The Fosters is a television series that originally aired in 2013 and ran until 2018. This television series tells the story of a family with four adopted children and one biological child who are raised by a lesbian couple. At the onset of the series, Callie is placed in the Foster’s home after being released from juvenile detention. Later, she attempts to rescue her brother Jude from the abusive foster home. Stef and Lena eventually officially adopt Callie and Jude after a long battle with the justice system. Although it is a good show, after adopting Callie and Jude, the series doesn’t seem to focus on the adoption or foster care system. It just captures the drama that unfolds with a multiracial family. I don’t recommend it for information about the process of adoption, but it is a good family drama.
Three Little Words
Three Little Words is a memoir written by Ashley Rhodes-Courter. The memoir tells the true story of Ashley Rhodes-Courter who spent nine years of her life in foster care. Ashley tells of her experiences being shuffled from foster home to foster home. She details her life as she is pushed between caseworkers, moved from school to school, and is forced to endure living with an abusive foster family. By the age of 12, Ashley is officially adopted. Three Little Words is an inspiring story that truly depicts the foster care system from a child’s perspective. The author is now a speaker who advocates for children in the foster care system and she has shared her story in more than seven countries. If you want to read more from her, check out her second book Three More Words which I will definitely be checking out soon.
This is Us
This is Us is a television-based drama that premiered in 2016. The story follows the Pearson family throughout several decades. Jack and Rebecca Pearson gave birth to triplets but unfortunately one was stillborn. Believing they were meant to have three children, they decided to adopt an African-American child left at the hospital by his father. The child is named Randall and when he grows up and marries he and his spouse adopt a child after having two biological children. Later on, Randall decides he wants to find his real father. When he does, he develops a relationship with him. This show is currently in its fifth season with the season premiere set for February ninth. This show is a wonderful portrayal of adoption and reunions. While it is not always realistic to find a biological family and develop a relationship, it is possible. I highly recommend this show for people who enjoy family dramas.
With this article, I hope you have found some ideas for books to read, movies to watch, and new television shows to binge. Most of these do a great job of portraying teen pregnancy and adoption.
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Emili Schurke is the youngest of three children. She was adopted when she was three years old. She has a huge heart for adoption and foster care. Emili currently resides with her parents and assists with the children in their care. Emili holds a special place in her heart for children with special needs and she works as a special education paraprofessional while she is pursuing her Masters in Teaching Special Education from Drury University. In 2018, she graduated with her Bachelors in Elementary Studies from College of the Ozarks, located in Point Lookout, Missouri. Emili is excited to share her adoption story with those around her.