Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The "Oprah Effect"

So I know this is extremely late in posting, but nonetheless, it's something I wanted to touch upon, among other things that I will hopefully get to in the near future.

Oprah's reunion
Oprah Winfrey, in her final season of her show, has sought to blow to socks of viewers in more ways than one.  Whether it's a trip to Australia, shocking interviews or guests, or breaking personal news, Oprah really is going out with a bang.  Her latest explosive episode was the well-anticipated "family secret" that she was bringing to light for her millions of viewers.  Now, this of course is not the first time that the talk show queen has revealed some pretty intense personal information on her show.  However, it seems to be the first time that she has ever been seriously touched by kinship separation and reunion.

I say this because several years ago a good friend of mine, Kathleen LaBounty was featured on an Oprah episode that dealt with donor conception.  Kathleen, along side Wendy and Ryan Kramer, and several others in the DC industry were discussing reunions, and primarily the "heroic" efforts of the DSR to find siblings for every donor conceived offspring in the world!  [Note sarcasm here.]  With such happiness, who could disagree that donor conception is wonderful?!?!

Apparently Kathleen could.  But was quickly hushed, because no one wants to hear something sad when the show's all about sunshine and rainbows!!  Now Kathleen has not been the first person who has gone on Oprah's show to learn that Oprah herself was very pro-adoption/donor conception and has absolutely no tolerance for individuals who believe it is their right to know their biological kin.  Oprah seems to be in the same camp as many recipient moms who see such opinions as being ungrateful whining brats, and feels no qualms with telling her guests that off-stage!

So lets talk about the so-called "Oprah Effect".  It's well documented in pop culture that Oprah has the Midas touch.  Literally.  Everyone/everything she endorses seems to succeed.  She has made numerous other talk show hosts famous (i.e. Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz.....just to name a few) because they started out as regulars on her show.  Clothing, makeup and hair products, even fitness guru's.  It seems to me it must be the goal of any fledgling entrepreneur to want to grab the attention of Oprah to thrive.  She has her own book club, that is probably more respected than the NYT Bestseller List.  It seems any book Oprah uses for her book club becomes an instant sensation -- even books that were previously deemed dusty classics meant to torture high schoolers around the country, like Steinbeck's East of Eden, received a revival of Biblical proportions!

Oprah and her half-sister Patricia
But back to Oprah's brush with adoption.  Oprah discovered, some time ago apparently (and the episode aired conveniently during the time shortly before daytime "sweeps"), that her mother had had a baby girl that she had given up for adoption.  Patricia discovered that it was possible that her birth mother was Oprah's mom, and set out to carefully try to bring the situation to light for Oprah and her family.  I commend her for being so honest and careful at these attempts, because while many of us (adoptees and DC offspring) may dream that our missing biological parent(s) are famous, the majority of us do not discover that our missing family really are celebrities!  I believe the contact between Oprah and Patricia must have initially been made some many months ago, but the on-air reunion was incredible.  First off, the similarities between the two women were obvious.  But what amazed me more than anything was how Oprah, the most powerful and richest woman in the world, opened her heart to her new-found half-sister.

The fact that Oprah explicitly stated how happy she was to have learned of her half-sister and to have reconnected with her gave me at least a small bit of hope that perhaps this experience changed her opinion on the needs and desires of adoptees and donor-conceived adults to seek out their kin.  Obviously the powerful emotions connected to these reunions justifies the importance of these relationships and proves that knowing ones family is a step towards knowing oneself.

If Oprah has indeed changed her opinions on adoption and donor conception and their subsequent needs to find their biological family, I would hope that she would entertain in the future more open discussion about this topic as well as some of the more corrupt sides of these industries with the help of her new half-sister.  And if her golden touch on everything else perpetuates onto a newfound understanding of the deep desires that adoptees and donor conceived adults feel, she may be able to help us change the collective mind of America and abroad to one that is more sympathetic toward the losses associated with adoption and donor conception, which should be considered if not paramount at least as important as the losses associated with infertility.


Best Hair Products said...

Very nice post i like it.

Sarah Allen said...

Very interesting and thought provoking.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Von said...

Let's hope everyone in the business finally understands the importnace of identity!

Angelica said...


I'm donor conceived and haven't done a lot of research into the dc community beyond registering on the sibling registry. Based on what I've read here, it appears as though you are anti- dc entirely?
Do you wish you weren't born? Or do you just wish the rules and regulations regarding donor conception gave greater weight to the desires of us dc offspring?