Since the introduction of MTV's The Real World in the 1990s, reality television has exploded in popularity. Each year, network and cable TV stations introduce new reality shows in hopes of capturing a loyal viewing audience so that they can attract larger advertising revenues. It's gotten to the point where no matter what your interest, you'll probably be able to find a reality show that's targeted to you.
While I'm not a fan of reality television, I do understand the appeal. Many of these shows pull at the heartstrings by taking a glimpse at average Joes and Janes dealing with difficult situations that many of us have to face in our daily lives and it’s interesting to see how others behave in those situations. Other reality shows highlight unique or special talents that are fun to watch - whether it's dancing, singing, or cooking. Watching people with exceptional talent can be entertaining and inspiring.
Having dedicated my entire professional career to supporting vulnerable children and families in crisis, it doesn't surprise me that a number of reality TV shows are focusing on this subject matter these days. From 16 and Pregnant to I’m Having Their Baby, the challenges facing those featured on these shows makes for compelling viewing. I don't think that I could live in such a fish bowl, but I'm from a different generation. Today, with the popularity of social media, giving family, friends, AND strangers an unfiltered glimpse of your life is the new normal.
The latest entry to this genre is Family Addition, featuring Leigh Anne Tuohy of The Blind Side fame assisting adoptive families with home improvement issues – think Extreme Home Makeover for adoptive families. It’s an interesting concept and I’m sure given Ms. Tuohy’s drive the show will be a huge success, helping many families achieve their dreams. That, for me, is the best part about these reality shows featuring adoption and foster care.
Helping vulnerable children and families achieve their dreams is what I believe we’re doing on a daily basis at Bethany Christian Services. Whether it’s placing a child with special needs with an adoptive family in Spokane, finalizing the adoption of a child from foster care with a family in Grand Rapids, or providing family preservation services around the world to help a child stay with their biological family, we are working diligently to build and preserve families.
So while it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be a reality show viewer, I am grateful for the attention such shows have brought to the challenges facing vulnerable children across the country and around the world.
If you’re considering adoption or becoming a foster care parent, please visit Bethany’s website at www.bethany.org for more information.