Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Top 10 TV Character Adoption Stories

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Quite some time ago I was flipping through the channels late at night and caught the episode of The Flintstones where Fred and Wilma have Pebbles. It really is hilarious if you haven't seen it. I saved it to my DVR and later showed a friend. He asked if the same thing happens when Bamm-Bamm is born, and I pointed out that Bamm-Bamm was adopted. He didn't know that, and I think that many people probably don't. So, I wanted to take some time to draw attention to some of the great adopted characters on television. I'm specifically looking at adopted characters whose stories are told or addressed in the show.  

10. George Camden from 7th Heaven. Although not a major character, George is adopted by Eric's parents, the Colonel and Ruth. In the same episode, Eric and Annie also consider adopting the child, which would have been interesting since the Camden kids did not particularly take to him. His real father shows up later in the series, and after some strife, gets along with everyone.
9. Arnold Jackson (and Willis) from Diff'rent Strokes. Mr. Drummond's housekeeper was the boys' mother, and after she died, he took them in. It's a real rags-to-riches story, and while the fact that the boys weren't Drummond's biological children popped up from time to time, it wasn't a big issue for arcs at a time.

8. Rose Nylund from The Golden Girls. I didn't know that Rose was adopted until I had seen thirty or forty episodes of the show. Turns out, her mother died in childbirth and her father was a monk who chose to return to the monastery (weird, huh?). She lived in an orphanage until she was 8, then was adopted by St. Olaf's favorite dairy-farming couple, the Lindstroms. There's an amusing storyline about Rose thinking that Bob Hope was her biological father, too. 

7. Natalie Green, from The Facts of Life. She grew up knowing that she was adopted, and while she was at the boarding school she decided that she wanted to meet her birthmother. Blair (who had the money and the connections) tracked down the woman, but Natalie ended up not showing to meet her, deciding that she was grateful for the parents who raised her. Later in the series she does meet her birthmom, but ultimately decides that she's very thankful for her adoptive parents. 

6. Skippy Handleman from Family Ties. Skippy accidentally found out he was adopted when he saw the papers in his mother's drawer. Skippy is determined to meet his birthmother, and brings Alex to see her. Skippy and his mother have a lot in common, and Skippy is excited to being a long-lasting relationship... only to have his mother tell him that she doesn't think that they should see one another again, and that he reminds her of a painful past. Skippy returns home to his loving parents, who have been heartbroken about the whole matter at the Keatons' home.

5. Alvin, Simon, and Theodore Seville; Brittany, Jeanette, and Eleanor Miller from Alvin & the Chipmunks. Going off of the cartoon stories of the chipmunks' & chipettes' origin, the guys were placed in a basket and their mother left them on Dave's doorstop. Dave struggled with them at first, but as soon as they got him a job with their recording of "Witch Doctor," all was well. The Chipettes, on the other hand, came from an orphanage in Australia, where they were a pet of a girl named Olivia. When Olivia was adopted, the chipettes were about to be exploited by the woman running the orphanage, but they ran away in a kangaroo's pouch, then stowed away on a ship to America. They lived in the park and worked in a restaurant, then rode a bus to California and got a singing job. They moved into a treehouse, but when they went to school, the school was upset that they had no guardian... so Dave's neighbor, Mrs. Miller, adopts the girls.

4. Steve Sanders from Beverly Hills, 90210. So this is a tricky one. He doesn't know he's adopted until the end of the first season. He went crazy trying to find his "real" parents, only to find just his mother's father, as his birthmother had died. Later we find out that his adoptive dad is his real dad as well, and only his mother, actress Samantha Sanders, was not actually a blood relative.

3. Punky Brewster from Punky Brewster. Her father abandons the family, then her mom leaves Punky and her dog (Brandon) at a shopping mall, never to return. Punky takes shelter in an empty apartment, but is found by the building's manager, who ends up jumping through a lot of hoops to adopt her. He fosters her for a while, she gets sent to an orphanage, but eventually the two live happily, and his curmudgeon ways disappear.

2. Bamm Bamm Rubble, from The Flintstones was the very first adopted child on television. He was left in a basket (as an orphan) at the Rubble's house, with a note revealing his unique name. Betty and Barney Rubble want to adopt him,and head to the Child Welfare office to make it official... only to discover they have to wait a week while their application is processed. They end up being denied, since someone was ahead of them on the waiting list. Betty and Barney take the other couple (rich folks) to court. Turns out, the woman from the other couple is pregnant, so they let the Rubbles have Bamm-Bamm.  In case you've never seen this one, I've added a couple clips:
cropped with SnipSnip

1. Albert Ingalls, from Little House on the Prairie. Charles wanted a son so badly, but a biological one just wasn't in the works (the only son Caroline birthed, died). They find Albert living on the streets when they live in Dakota Territory, and he comes back to Walnut Grove in the end. His biological father does come back into the picture for a short time, but it is ultimately the Ingalls who love the boy despite his faults... like burning down the school for the blind with his niece inside, getting addicted to morphine, having the town believe that he was an illegitimate father, and ultimately dying of cancer before he could achieve his dream of becoming a doctor.

I know I'm missing another dozen or so adopted characters, but I really enjoy these stories (I mean, wasn't Webster just a copy of Diff'rent Strokes, LoL?). What adoption stories come to your mind? 
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