Broken Promises: Taking Emily Back

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Broken Promises: Taking Emily Back
Genre Drama
Written by Vickie Patik
Christopher Canaan
Directed by Donald Wrye
Starring Cheryl Ladd
Polly Draper
Robert Desiderio
D. David Morin
Kathleen Wilhoite
Ted Levine
Music by Chris Boardman
Country of origin USA
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Larry A. Thompson
Producer(s) Donald Wrye
Tyler Tyhurst (co-producer)
Daniel Schneider (co-producer)
Christopher Canaan (co-producer)
E.J. Peaker (associate producer)
Patch Mackenzie (associate producer)
Rhonda Bloom (supervising producer)
Cinematography Rick Bota
Editor(s) David Siegel
Running time 93 minutes
Production company(s) Larry Thompson Entertainment
RHI Entertainment
Distributor CBS
Original network CBS
Original release December 26, 1993

Broken Promises: Taking Emily Back is a 1993 television film produced and directed by Donald Wrye.


Ever since Pam Cheney (Cheryl Ladd) lost her baby during labor, she has been struggling with depression. She is not only supported by her loving, but hard working husband Sean (Robert Desiderio), but also by her friends Ella (Polly Draper) and Terry Sabin (D. David Morin), who have also lost a baby at age three. One year after labor, Pam decides to finally take a proposal to adopt a toddler. Going through official agencies proves unsuccessful, partly due to Pam's age, partly due to the growing demand of adoption. She is advised to take care of an orphaned teenager instead, but Sean refuses this option.

Instead, she meets a lawyer she knows nothing about, and, without going through legal business, pays him a large sum of money to meet with a homeless couple, Gary (Ted Levine) and Lily Ward (Kathleen Wilhoite), who are selling their daughter Emily (Amanda and Megan Braun). Even though Sean has severe doubts about the lawyer and the morality of this kind of adoption, he allows his wife to meet with the couple. During this, it immediately becomes clear to Pam that Ella is unwilling to give up Emily, though Ella insists that she wants the best for her daughter. At the end of the conversation, Gary allows Pam and Sean to adopt their kid.

Pam is delighted and soon grows used to raising a child. Trouble starts when Gary and Lily, having recently been thrown out of their shelter, demand to take back Emily, pointing out that the contract allows them to change their minds for the first thirty days after the adoption. Pam is desperate to prevent this, and grants Gary his one wish: she buys him a car, even though the contract forbids her to support Gary and Lily financially. Hoping that this has changed Gary's mind, she keeps the deal a secret from her husband. However, when Gary returns, demanding for more, Sean feels that his doubts are confirmed: Gary and Lily are con artists. He wants to give up Emily before he and Pam get involved too much emotionally, but it proves too late: Pam is unwilling to leave Emily.

Alternatively, she recognizes Gary as the source of all trouble and persuades Lily to leave him. Though Gary is able to seduce Lily - now pregnant again - back, he agrees on leaving alone the Cheneys and Emily. Meanwhile, Ella, who accompanied Pam to the shelter where she met with Lily and became moved by a poor orphan, convinces Terry to give parenthood another chance. They meet with an attorney to legally adopt Lily's unborn child. Lily commits to the deal, but later finds out that Gary has granted the adoption to another couple outside the law. Realizing that her husband is no good, she leaves him to be beaten by another man.

Sometime later, Lily gives birth to a baby boy. Gary shows up at the hospital with a new lawyer to claim Emily and the boy. Lily, however, convinces him that they are bad parents and should be brought up by the Cheneys and Sabins. In the end, Gary leaves the hospital, leaving his children behind with the adoptive parents.



In a 1993 interview, Ladd commented on the film: "This particular story really grabbed me, and I think that's partly because there's been so much of this in the news. What I loved about it is that there really are no heroes and no villains, just humans with all of their gifts and all of their difficulties." She furthermore praised her colleagues for their acting performances and recalled the film as "some of the best work I've done on television."[1]

The film was scheduled to air in October 1993,[2] but the release was pushed back two months later.


  1. ^ "Cheryl Ladd threatened by 'Broken Promises'" by Jay Bobbin, Rome News-Tribune, December 24, 1993. p. 3
  2. ^ "Heidi's ex-beau gets plush TV deal for couple's story", The Sun, August 29, 1993.

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