Raised by Wolves vs Little Fires Everywhere

Raised By Wolves

I recently watched two very different shows about motherhood, one of which I thought paid the greatest respect to adopted children like me and the other that did quite the opposite. Both certainly entertained me and made me think, though.

Raised by Wolves (HBO) is a far-future sci-fi show about two androids, Mother and Father, who land on a distant planet. They’re tasked with “birthing” and raising a family of human children, which quickly gets complicated due to the perils of the planet and some other spoilery stuff.

Much of the focus is on Mother herself as she navigates the sheer weight of her responsibility. Yet it is never in doubt that Campion is her son, nor is it doubt that she is Campion’s mother. She raised him as her own.

I was adopted when I was an infant. They raised me. They mothered and fathered me. They are my parents, and I am their son. Any biological connection (or lack thereof) is completely irrelevant to the nature of our relationship. I say this with all due respect, appreciation, and gratitude to my biological mother.

This brings us to Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu), which closely follows a few mothers (mostly two, but others are quite important to the show as well). Spoilers follow.

A centerpiece of the second half of Little Fires Everywhere is a legal dispute regarding the adoption application for a child who was abandoned by her biological mother. It’s tough to watch, but it’s fascinating and very well acted, and the show does a great job of raising interesting questions about what is initially a cut-and-dry case.

And then the show makes a massive mistake in providing a definitive answer to the question in a way that was truly hurtful to me (as an adopted child). There’s a moment in court when one of the lead characters says that there is only one mother in the room, and that is the biological mother, even though the adoptive mother is the one who actually raised the child. In completely clear terms, the show presents this as the answer, no further questions.

I was shocked and appalled by this. It’s fine to ask interesting questions as the show did up until that point, but in stating that parenthood is strictly biological is callous, cruel, and incredibly disrespectful to all of the amazing adoptive parents out there (and kids like me whose parents chose to raise them as their own).

I don’t often think about my adoption, but that choice by the Little Fires Everywhere writers and producers really stung. I’m still in disbelief they would convey such an inaccurate, hurtful message to adopted kids around the world.

That said, I’d recommend both shows–after all, it isn’t often that shows make me think and react as much as these did. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “Raised by Wolves vs Little Fires Everywhere”

  1. My Uncle was adopted by my Grandparents as an infant as well. It wasn’t until my late teens that I knew, and that had no bearing on our relationship, or his with my Grandparents. Family is family.

    Reply
  2. Little Fires Everywhere is based on a book, I believe. So it’s possible it’s the author you should be targeting.

    I also don’t think the fact the show has a character saying a certain thing is the same as the producers intending for that to be the message of the show. Like you say, the whole show is about parenting, shown in many different lights. I honestly think it’s attempting to show people trying to do the best in their circumstances. And some times there are terrible consequences, even when you’re trying to do the right thing. Does Reese Witherspoon’s character deserve to have her house burnt down? I wouldn’t say that the producers think that, just because it happened in the show.

    Reply

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