Harry's Law Review: American Girls

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Going into tonight’s episode, I thought the double meaning of "American Girl" was going to be a lot of fun to watch, seeing as it applied to both Harry’s constitutional rights as an American and to Leigh having lived with her adopted parents for the last four years in America.

I was wrong. Watching Adam and Cassie fight for the birth parents of Leigh was heart wrenching. It was well performed, but painful. Adam was right when he said “No matter how you rule there will be a lot of pain," but who knew he'd also be speaking about the audience?

Adam in Court

Wait, I take it back, watching Connor Bertram (Jordan Wall from The Glades) kicking Oliver’s ass in court on his very first trial was enjoyable, as was Harry threatening to mistake the police officer for a quail. While they didn’t fully offset the anguish and pain Adam and Cassie’s case induced, it helped.

Seriously though, I was as impressed with Connor as Harry was. Was anyone else shocked when she offered him a job? Do you think he knows that we can count the number of attorneys she has offered a job to on two fingers? 

When Chunhua walked in with the Chinese couple who had their daughter taken away because of China’s one child law, my first thought was Oh jeez, again... While the case was emotional, I was glad that David E. Kelley stuck to it being about what’s best for the little girl and didn’t get on his soapbox even once about the one child law.

That was because he saved all of his soapbox dancing for the other story line.

I know going into Harry’s Law that Kelley is going to work in a social message of some sort every week. You can usually pick it out by what Harry goes on a rant about. This week actually pushed the soapbox preaching to 11. Its become so prevalent that I considered making a drinking game out of it, but realized I would be so hammered I couldn't type. 

We get it; the economy is in the crapper. Yes, we know that outsourced jobs have contributed to the economy. Yes, we know a lot of people are loosing homes, and are unhappy. But did you really need to beat us over the head with it for the better part of the hour?

I was really hoping to enjoy George Wendt as Mayor Franklin Chickory. But we had to listen to him justify why he enacted a “buy American” ordinance in the city regarding cars. Clearly Kelley was trying to make the most a plausible but ridiculous policy that would allow him to spew his thoughts on the state of the economy and our international trade policies. 

Putting aside the fact that it would be impossible to get an ordinance like this active without bankrupting the city, given they would only get it approved by offering to assist anyone with a foreign car switch, certainly they would have had some sort of grace period for non-residents or have just told Harry to turn around.

Back off the soapbox, it looks like Chunhua is making a return. Maybe Adam will mention to her what happened with Rachael. That would be refreshing, wouldn't it?

Review

Editor Rating: 2.8 / 5.0
  • 2.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (39 Votes)

Jim G. is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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I being a mother of four do not agree with the ruling of the judge. The pain associated with losing an adoptive child cannot compare with the pain of the biological parents losing a child taken from them at the tender age of two. The adoptive parents should have had more compassion and allowed the child to be placed back in her proper place. If the child adjusted at two years old, at this age she has more maturity and would understand. After all she said she remembered her parents and even remembered how to understand and speak Chinese. I hope there will be a part two to this episode. Not satisfied with this ending.

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I think it's only fair to start this by being honest: (1)it was the first episode of Harry's Law I've watched (just happened to run into it last night), and the only reason I continued watching it was because of this story line.(2)I am the adoptive parent of a 4-year-old girl who was born in China. So obviously, whatever I say is colored by that fact. Unlike many TV shows/movies that portray international adoption, this program did attempt to get some of the facts straight - even little things, like the parents specifically saying that local authorities took their child. There were a couple of "what?" moments for me. As someone else pointed out, how would this family (if they re-gained custody of the child)be allowed to keep her when they returned to China? In addition, this couple must have been very well-off to afford this search and travel to the US. In modern China, families are given the option of paying to keep 2nd children. Often this fee is MUCH more than the average Chinese person could hope to pay, but would be far less than the cost of travel and attorneys. I thought the program did a wonderful job (through the character of the judge)in showing how very difficult this situation is. Neither set of parents did anything wrong - the biological parents did not deserve to lose their child through an unjust law (though I must point out, this is the "law" of their country, however wrong it is), and the adoptive parents did everything they needed to do for a legal, binding adoption. In China, children are abandoned for every reason they are abandoned here in the US, PLUS the addition of those who are 2nd children. To complicate matters, many Chinese (though this is changing, especially in urban areas)still prefer male children.
There was no good solution. The judge had to do her job, and in an impossible situation, she judged that the child would be better with the family she knows, HER family. And to those who are so adamant that this decision was horribly wrong, I have to think that you do not believe that adoptive families are the same as biological families. Of course, there is no way to sway your opinion, but believe me, my daughter is MY daughter. I am her mother. Thoush she knows the circumstances of her birth, her adoption, it is no different from having a biological child. Though I'm sure it will be hard to believe, I understood the Chinese parents, and would not have thought it was a terrible decision if they had been awarded custody - in many ways I would have thought it a just decision. Even as an adoptive parent, I cried for the Chinese mother. I grieve for my child's mother, who has no chance of knowing what a wonderful daughter she has.
Though this episode was well done, remember that it is only television. I applaud the writers for being sensitive to both sides. Even so, it did not come close to the reality of the thousands of situations that conclude in an international adoption.

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I totally disagree with the judge in the child custody case. I see her point but those parents had their child STOLEN from them. The finally find her and are denied the right to have her back? Why? She still remembers them, she still remembers Chinese. Children are very adaptable. She would have thrived. I don't see how the birth parents will be able to afford to visit the child. Why wasn't her other sibling mentioned? The birth parents have another child so she does have a sibling who I am sure was devastated when she was stolen. The least the judge could have done was make sure the child learns Chinese, send her to China every summer for two full months vacation, and ensure she grows up knowing her heritage. We all know full well if the situation had been reversed, the American would have gotten custody of the child and brought the child home. Somehow because it's a Chinese child, America should win? Why? When children are stolen or kidnapped, NO ONE has the right to keep them away from their birth parents should they be found. NO ONE. If you're not a parent, you cannot understand their pain. Even the judge said she would search forever for her child. Yet, once she found her, she'd be content to let her NOT come home with her? Not likely!!! As usual, American wins, foreign country loses. Those poor parents. That poor little girl. I don't like the way this issue was handled at all.

Jimg

CAT SCARBROUGH, My wife asked the same question after the episode was over.. I don't know but it sounds plausible. As ginger pointed out, the Birth Parents were given visitation rights, and Marianne Jean-Baptiste who played the judge was by far the best thing about that case.. I wish she had been more vocal about how the visitation was going to work, as I almost missed it too. Jim

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Like the reviewer, I was ambivalent about this episode. The custody case was handled with grace and Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Without a Trace) played the judge with both sorrow and compassion. She awarded visitation rights to the natural parents, but this assumes they will be willing and able to stay in the United States. At the very least, young Leigh knows her parents love her and fought for her, and she can build a relationship with them when she is older. The "Buy American" case was silly. Even if a town could somehow enact a law that forbids the purchase of non-domestic automobiles, could they actually fine a non-resident for driving through their town in a foreign car? The young lawyer was impressive, but the speech-making was annoying. I realize it counterbalanced the angst of the custody case. I wish David E. Kelley had found a more entertaining way to do this.

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Good show but judge in baby case was best actor on it. Hope to see more of her. You could feel her pain having to make such a decision. I still hope they get rid of the overcasting instead of adding more. Looks like Vally may leave next week. We will see and yes, Kelly does overdo political correctness.

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This is right and well said Linda i totally agree with you.

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I love this program,and Kathy Bates is an excellent actress in anything she does. Last night I cheered and I cried during the two stories.The American girl I cried,because I felt Leigh should have went to her parents,but then also if she had been taken back to China,would the government be allowed to take her away again?I love Harry's Law,the stories are incredible,keep them coming.Thanx Cat Scarbrough

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I totally agree with the above statement/at least they could have compromised and allowed visits with the child. Other than that I really like Harry's Law.

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re Harrys Law - American Girl. i have to say that i was (and still is) upset about this episode. The little girl was stolen from her parents. Yes, she is now living the American dream but she does not belong to her adoptive parents. When something is stolen it needs to be returned to its rightful owner. we do this with artwork, etc, why not with children. Who are we to say that a kidnapped child is better off in an American home rather than be with her natural parents - who obviously love her so much. When the judge said that if it were her child she would not stop searching for her child and then granted custody of a kidnapped child to her new parents i just could not fathom this and still cannot.