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Pick of the week: This American Life – Surrogates, Act Two: Maul in the Family

February 3, 2013
This American Life – Surrogates, Act Two: Maul in the Family
Podcast release date: January 27, 2013
Time: 26:00

In Act Two of Surrogates, Amity Bitzel tells the story of how her parents adopted a 27-year old man, Larry, who killed his abusive adoptive parents when he was 17. Her parents decide to adopt the man after reading “Sudden Fury.”Her father corresponds with the man, visits him while he’s in prison, and adopts him into the family when he’s released after serving nine years of his prison sentence. Amity is a teenager while all of this is happening, and not initially thrilled about the addition to the family. She describes the surreal experience of watching A Family Torn Apart,” the made for television movie based on “Sudden Fury,” with her parents and Larry after dinner.

The story gets stranger when Amity describes how, as a teenager, she wondered why her parents adopted Larry and cared for him, particularly when her father was abusive to Amity and her sister. Amity and her sister broke off contact recently with their father, but Brian Reed, a producer at This American Life, interviews their father about Larry and his relationship with his daughters. He explains why he adopted Larry, but seems to be in denial about the harm he did to his family. Near the end of the story, Amity reads an email that her father sent to her sister and her a few months ago that comes closer to acknowledging what he did. While I was fascinated by the way the story unfolded, I wish that all of the terrible things that happened to everyone involved had never happened.

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