Adopted Girl's Fantasy Life Becomes "Life Unexpected"

Sunday, Jan 10, 2010  |  Updated 8:15 PM EDT
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Adopted Girl's Fantasy Life Becomes "Life Unexpected"

CW

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An adopted girl who fantasized that her real mother was Nancy Reagan turned those youthful dreams into a television series.

The new CW network series "Life Unexpected," about a 16-year-old girl in foster care discovering her birth parents, came directly from the life of creator Liz Tigelaar. The series debuts on Jan. 18.

As a girl growing up in Texas, Tigelaar dreamed about who her birth parents were. Since she heard her birth mother lived in Washington, D.C., she believed it was Nancy Reagan — until her mother told her it was biologically unlikely. Tigelaar is 34; the former first lady is 88.

While Reagan didn't make it into the CW series, Tigelaar wrote a story informed by real-life experience.

"When you have no idea and have nothing to go on, you really create that story in your head," said Tigelaar, a former assistant on "Dawson's Creek" and writer of books for young adults who is now in charge of her first TV series. The actress who plays the girl in the series, Britt Robertson, looks like she could be Tigelaar's younger sister.

Even if they didn't live in the White House, Tigelaar said she always hoped her birth parents had cool jobs. The people in the series who connect with a daughter the father never knew he had are a radio DJ and bar owner.

Tigelaar met her birth mother for the first time in November.

"The first thing she said was, 'I'm not a radio DJ,'" Tigelaar said.

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