Family Expansion on Grey's Anatomy Doesn't Boost Family Restoration

The popular medical drama Grey's Anatomy is no stranger to pushing moral boundaries in its episodes.  While the show continues to push its "do what you like" stance on homosexuality, fornication, and divorce, it may be giving its viewers the wrong idea about life in the real world.  In a recent episode entitled "Loss, Love, and Legacy" (episode available here: http://abc.go.com/shows/greys-anatomy/video), Seattle Grace Hospital's resident (no pun intended) lesbian couple, Dr. Callie Torres and Dr. Arizona Robbins, discuss legal issues surrounding their daughter Sophia.


Obviously, Sophia is not the biological daughter of both Callie and Arizona.  During a brief split between the couple, Callie slept with Dr. Mark Sloan, the hospital's sex-crazed plastic surgeon.  In true primetime television fashion, baby Sophia was the result of this "casual" encounter.  Here is where the twist comes in.


As far as we know, Mark and Callie are listed on Sophia's birth certificate—after all, this is a medical show, so legal details are simply brushed aside.  In this particular episode, Dr. Alex Karev mentions to Arizona, in the operating room of course, that she has no rights to Sophia if anything were to ever happen to their relationship (which is possible given that statistically homosexual unions dissolve after about 2 years).  Arizona rushes home after surgery to tell Callie that she "wants a piece of paper" saying that Sophia is hers.  Callie replies, "Sure! We'll get you that piece of paper."


Little do Callie and Arizona know that legally a child can only have two parents.  So far in this case, Sophia's dance card is full with Callie and Mark.  In order for Arizona to be legally considered a parent of Sophia, either Callie or Mark would have to relinquish their parental rights.  Sorry Arizona, but that's never going to happen.  The writers of Grey's Anatomy live in this fairy tale world where all three (Callie, Mark, and Arizona) co-parent as if this is a totally normal family.  Since all three adults care about Sophia, there is no way that one of them would be willing to have his or her parental rights terminated.  I'm afraid Arizona is going to have to be the odd (wo)man out in this love nest of Mark, Callie, and Sophia, even if she pursues "that piece of paper" through adoption.


I guess it's true what they say: three's company…four's a crowd.


[Thanks for this blog post provided by Elizabeth Anderson, Regent Law J. D. Candidate 2012, and current Elder Law student.]




  1. This article makes a point that is becoming more and more valid with the rising popularity of reality television. Of course there are always some impressionable people who might believe everything they see on television, but many people realize that shows like Grey's Anatomy have writers who are not lawyers. That being said, I find it scarier that there are so many shows that are based on so-called "reality." These shows claim to be based on real-life relationships, but many of them are just as staged as your average medical drama. The entertainment industry seems like it is constantly grasping for new twists on relationships just to keep plotlines exciting, but it presents them from a realistic standpoint to make others believe that these things really happen and work out for the characters/actors. Yet somehow people become confused when it does not work out that way for them in their lives. People will always be fascinated with reality television because most of us are naturally interested in how others live. I just wish it was easier to remember that we are never getting the whole story when we see something on tv.

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  3. Wow! It's been a while since I've watched Grey's Anatomy, but it seems as though things have become much more dramatic since I left my faithful viewer status. When I left Callie and George had just divorced.

    On a serious note, I do think it's a great point that was made that legally this little girl can only have two parents. Based upon the laws of Washington, she may also only be allowed one mom and one dad.

    It's even more sad the impact that this relationship has on the child. Because putting aside the fact that at the moment she has two parents that are currently active in her life, this little girl still needs a dad. Because of the this one night fling, it is highly unlikely that he will play any role in her life at all.

    If the statistics cited prove to be true, then in two years this little girl is left with one mommy biolgically, and one that depending on how the relationship ends may have no desire to be involved whatsoever.

    If Arizona does desire to be involved, then legally she may not be given the right to have visitation. While it's sad for Arizona from a humane perspective that she may have no rights to this little girl, it's the consequences of parenting a child in homosexual relationship.

    It's also the consequences of what happens when our relationships don't reflect God's original design. Because Callie had a one night fling and a homosexual relationship, she is gambling with her daughter's future and lessening her chances of providing a safe, stable environment for her.

  4. It's has been very interesting watching television evolve within my lifetime. The reality-craze has seen numerous off-shoots and now we have shows that are so particularized that it is hard to see any benefit from watching them. The elephant in the room about reality/drama tv is that we spend more time watching these shows and less time actually discussing the issues seen within. When there is a show talking about homosexual marriage or abortion, most of the time the topic is presented as an issue that the characters in the show are facing. It is supposed to be entertaining for the viewer and is supposed to capture the viewers attention. It is not at all common now for these issues to be talked about after the show ends. We spend our time thinking about how the characters handle these issues and how it affects them but not how it affects us. In the context of the family, the television should never be a substitute for parents sitting down with their children and discussing many of these relevant issues.

  5. I actually saw this episode and was wondering the same thing - does Callie think that a piece of paper will do anything? Is she planning on relinquishing her parental rights to Arizona (because as a fairly regular watcher of Grey's Anatomy - I can safely say that Mark Sloane - man who is dying for a family of his own - would not relinquish his). Given Sophia's parents' choices in relationships and even in Sophia's own conception, in the "real world" she would be growing up in a fairly confusing familial dynamic. I just hope that people won't look at the nicely gift-wrapped television answers to these issues and think that this is how reality will also play out. I suppose we can only hope that children who actually grow up in Sophia's situation are able to find the happiness and guidance they will need in life.

  6. Sarah Lanciault- We wonder why the crazies in our society claim the things they claim in court. They watch Grey's Anatomy and other shows like it. Thank God we live in a country where the rule of law is upheld- a child gets 2 parents and that is it. One day the laws may change but I'm sure if they do there will be quite a fight before. But as for now, even those living in a the fairy tale world of Grey's Anatomy type thinking are restricted by the laws of our land that protect the best interest of the child. It should not be about the "adults'" happiness as in the show but the child's wellbeing.