Adoption and Orange is the New Black

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So, I should start out with a couple of disclaimers:

  1. If you haven’t had the chance to binge watch the new season of Netflix’s original hit series Orange is the New Black, you might not want to read on. This blog may contain spoilers. So don’t say I didn’t warn you!
  2.  If you are looking for a fun family show to watch with your kids- Orange is the New Black (OINTB) is NOT the show for you. I repeat, not a wholesome family show.

Orange is the New Black

I must admit, I have a few guilty pleasures in this world, and OITNB is one of them. Those ladies are clever, shameless, and their schemes are super entertaining! This season, we follow the story of an inmate named Daya, who is pregnant from a love affair with a male guard. Because the guard would be incarcerated for having an affair with an inmate (it is considered statutory rape), the ladies hatched a scheme to blame the paternity on a guard who was already trouble, and therefore, HE went to jail believing he was the father of the baby.

So, what would happen to Daya’s baby after she was born? The baby could go and live with Daya’s drug dealing, gun toting stepfather in a tiny apartment with a bunch of other kids, or, Daya could give her baby up for adoption.

In this season, Daya has a visit from the mother of the guard who believes he is the father (who is now in jail for statutory rape and other charges including dealing drugs to prisoners). She is well to do, and wants to take care of her grandchild. Daya’s mother, who is also incarcerated, sees this as an opportunity to get money, but Daya spends much of the season contemplating adoption for her new baby.

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A Look at the Real World

Yes- this show is far fetched and obviously not a reality show, but there is a bit of reality in the situation Daya finds herself in. According to a blog by Chaunie Brusie, RN, BSN, “between 6 and 10 percent of incarcerated women are pregnant; in one year alone, 1,400 women gave birth while incarcerated in the United States”.

What happens to these babies? Before 1950, prison nurseries were the norm, allowing incarcerated mothers to bond and care for their newborns while serving their sentence. According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_nursery), “Housing an infant in a prison nursery costs approximately $24,000 per year”. That being said, many states do not have (or choose to spend) the money on prison nurseries and so, they are few and far between. Most babies in the US who are born in prison stay with their mothers in special wards for 30 days or less. Then, they are sent to live with relatives or are put into the foster care system. Some are adopted later on, others stay in foster care indefinitely until their parent’s sentence is over. There are many arguments out there that this is detrimental to both mother and child, and in many cases, women who are allowed to care for their babies in a prison nursery do not return to prison after being released.

“But this adoptee wants to applaud the fictional Daya and any real life incarcerated mothers who make this decision.”

But, I digress. Daya chose to give her child up for adoption because she wanted to give her baby a better life than she ever had. Her decision was heartfelt and it was agonizing to watch her make. But this adoptee wants to applaud the fictional Daya and any real life incarcerated mothers who make this decision. Giving your child up for adoption because you are serving a prison sentence isn’t a failure. It is putting your child’s needs ahead of your own, and if you don’t have a trustworthy person on the outside, there is no shame in making this decision. Your child, and his or her adoptive family will thank you.

P.S. I didn’t want to spoil everything with this story line, and much more happened after Daya made her decision. So, perhaps you should binge watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix if you can handle the scandal!!!

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