|Melissa Carter: My screen debut in a new kind of family video|
|Written by Melissa Carter|
|Friday, 05 August 2011 00:00|
Until recently, my acting resume consisted of a non-speaking part on the “O.C.” for three frames. Seems that was enough to land me the role of Friend #4 in a new form of family entertainment: the adoption video.
I was not aware of this new marketing tool used by would-be parents and am still unsure of how common they are in the adoption world. But like everything, even adoption has apparently gone Hollywood. These days, even the loving act of bringing a baby into your family requires you submitting to judgment based on beauty, success and wealth.
My friends Ken and Matt had made their home the “set” and hours of filming had already gone into their adoption video. I missed earlier scenes which included “The Cookie Jar” and “The Band-Aid to the Rescue.” Earlier in the week, Ken and Matt had sent out the outline of the shoot and casting assignments to their friends and their kids. The couple had pulled out all the stops in their efforts to become new dads to some lucky baby and their mini-movie was the latest part of their attempt to show how welcome a baby would be.
When I walked into the kitchen, Matt was blindfolded as a video camera recorded him changing the diaper on a baby doll. I tiptoed into a corner and witnessed take after take, quickly realizing I would have needed 10 tries to change a diaper without a blindfold.
I was cast in the final scene called “The Kodak Moment.” In this scene, the friends and their families were gathered on the back porch and were having a seemingly natural conversation. The script called for Ken to interrupt the revelry and gather everyone for a group photo. While the video camera rolled in the background, we all posed for our “Kodak Moment.” I am proud to report my performance required just one take.
The atmosphere of the day was like a holiday picnic. While the production crew worked in the background, the friends caught up with each other’s lives and the children played in the periphery. I commended my friends for making this unique and potentially awkward event a party.
Then I overheard a 4-year-old say, “Daddy, why are so many people here?”
He replied, “We’re all here to help Ken and Matt.”
That small exchange sobered me. I looked around the room and noticed that every couple there was straight except for Ken, Matt, Katie and me. This community of straight couples, with children in tow, had given a summer Saturday to support their gay friends. And in doing so, the children were shown acts of true friendship and its rewards, unconditional love and support.
Ken and Matt have spent the last three years trying to adopt. After two near misses, they decided to produce this video to help prospective parents see who they are in living color.
While speaking with Ken and Matt after the shoot, I sensed their concern that no one had chose them yet and they worried that it was because they are gay. I tried to reassure them that a variety of factors go into why someone chooses one couple over another and suggested it could simply be because they were Southerners. But their polite smiles didn’t mask their worry that I was optimistically naive.
Katie and I will eventually try for a child through IVF, but biology decides the success or failure of these kinds of families, not a stranger analyzing video and judging our life. Shouldn’t it be Ken and Matt watching stacks of videos from families who need them to raise their child?
Shouldn’t these men be honored for adopting, rather than being left to feel insecure in the face of undefined rejection? I praise women who choose adoption. But how far should the lens extend in our efforts to accommodate and comfort these women?
As this process becomes ever more complicated, expensive and intrusive, I fear we are losing sight of the fact that it is Ken and Matt’s doorstep where the mat reads: “Welcome Home.”
Melissa Carter is former co-host of “The Bert Show” on Q100, where she broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in the city and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Keep up with her at www.melissatimes.com.
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