Wanted: a Family of My Own, TV review: ITV's new show has attained an impressive access
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Thursday 24 April 2014
We've already been introduced to the concept of an adoption panel by Channel 4's excellent 15,000 Kids and Counting, so you might think that makes Wanted: a Family of My Own, another documentary series on the adoption process, redundant.
However, by working closely with local authorities across the UK, ITV’s new show has attained an impressive access. This time we went behind the closed door of the meeting room and actually sat in on the panel.
Wanted: a Family of My Own also benefited from presenter Nicky Campbell, who was himself adopted as a baby in the Sixties, after his Irish mother travelled to Edinburgh to escape the stigma of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. These days, babies are put up for adoption for different reasons; often drug abuse or mental health issues are involved, backgrounds that can unfortunately put off many adopters.
This was the case for Joshua, a gorgeous, lively nine-month-old who would be very adoptable, were it not for his birth parents’ history of serious mental illness. Adoption documentaries have touched before on the uncomfortable issue of where adopter preference becomes “baby-shopping”, but instead of piling on the judgement, Campbell did some useful myth-busting. “Can you mitigate [hereditary mental illness] with a loving environment?” he asked a paediatrician. The answer, thankfully, was yes.
Shelagh Beckett, a consultant on this show, told The Independent on Sunday about the difficulty she had persuading social workers to appear on camera. Given the way their profession is often portrayed in the press, that’s no wonder. In fact, both these documentaries have reflected well on everyone involved, the hopeful couples, the hard-working social workers and most of all heroic foster parents like Angela and Mick. So many children owe a better start in life to their patient kindness.
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