POV’s Adoption Stories are comprised of three documentaries that examine issues facing adoptees and their families. We were excited to hear viewer feedback about the films, and you didn’t disappoint! Here are some comments that made us pause, think and engage more deeply with different aspects of the adoption process.
Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy created a big stir in the comment section of our site, and the many comments that were posted reflected viewers’ intense reactions. Many of the comments took a critical view, often focusing on the adoptive family portrayed in the film. Other commenters offered a different take on the complexities of the situation.
Jonni from Manlius, New York said:
I love the discussion that this documentary has brought about… I think Donna Sadowsky should really be cut a break. It is so easy for everyone to attack her on here. Doing what she did was not easy. We adopted a toddler last year and let’s just say that it was a very tough transition in the beginning but I would not change a thing about it. My husband and I could not imagine having a camera on us during that time of transition… We all come from different parents who used different types of parenting techniques. Who are we to condone her for her techniques? She seemed loving even if her methods were different. She should not have to defend herself to any of us. Until you have been in that situation, you really don’t know…
Joan from San Francisco, CA wrote:
There were moments in watching Donna Sadowsky where I judged her behavior and responses as harsh or unfeeling. And yet, I’m aware that as a new mother myself, it’s easy to judge someone else and imagine that you would respond w/more wisdom and “right” behavior. I’m a psychotherapist too, so I was sensitive to the minimization of the attachment ruptures that were happening for Faith. I think most non-therapist people function under the notion that everyone will adjust and it’s just a matter of time. And that’s true too, but that reflects only the parts of us that are resilient and leaves little room for a proper soothing of the parts of us that are in the process of grieving. It was the scene where Faith is crying that she wants to go back to China, that it’s too hard being in America, that I saw the tenderness with which Donna really seemed to validate and care for the parts of Faith that were devastated by the loss of the only “family” and life she had ever known. I saw Donna somehow balancing firmness and softness and acknowledge that it WAS going to be hard for a while, that Faith was experiencing something that made sense, and then I heard Donna reassure Faith that it was going to get better. In a short and simple moment, Donna gave her child the understanding and care she needed…Gosh, I’d love it if we could ‘check-in’ and see how things shape out through the years. And yet, I wouldn’t want ALL of their lives to become a spectacle.
Albert Reingewirtz from Havertown, PA, added:
“I survived the Shoa, my parents didn’t. I was 7 when they were taken away. When I was about 11 after the war and American couple wanted to adopt me. I refused to be adopted still waiting for my parents to come back. I was day dreaming that one day would arrive and tell me we search for you. I will be 76 next month and only a few years ago I learned that my father last 5 months and my mother was declared dead on arrival at Auschwitz. My heart went out for this little girl. I could not stop crying during the whole show. Soon she could not understand Chinese? No!… That little girl never had her own mother and now she made efforts to lose her own people to fit in. This is the next day and I still get tears thinking about the travails of this child. In some ways she has it harder than I had it.
Charise from Austin, TX said:
I work at a non-profit org that primarily deals with foster care and US adoption. These children are also in great need of a loving and supportive home. But yes, if you so choose to adopt from another country, then that is equally encouraged and supported. It is your personal choice and yours alone. The complexities and pros/cons of adopting from the US and other countries are far and wide. The main thing to remember though is that we should all be extremely proud of these families who push through a multitude of factors and bring these children home to not just fulfill the needs/wants of these children, but to also fulfill themselves as parents.
The conversation continued with the second film in the three-part Adoption Stories series: Off and Running. The comments we received after Off and Running aired raised more questions about inter-racial adoption, the meaning of “identity” and open adoption laws.
Brenda from Boise, ID, wrote:
I am both an adoptee and an adoptive mom (transracially), and the whole thing is complex when combined with adolescence and the search for identity. While I’m the same race as my adoptive parents, adolescence was difficult, confusing and painful. My daughter is 5, she’s already building an identity, a part of which is being a brown skinned person in the community where we live.
Kimberly from Dallas, TX said:
Great film. Run Avery Run….into the future…..your future and never look back!
We cannot choose our parents…but we can choose our future and the direction in which we run…And granted you will struggle as a woman and as a black woman (believe me I know)….but in the end…. it’s really about the people that love you and those people are not always the ones that are biologically connected to you. Shalom.
Kim from Berkeley, CA, shared:
I enjoyed this film. As an adoptive parent, I am always interested hearing about a child’s quest to contact their birth family. I attended a training that advised that the parent let the child lead the search process and you, the parent, facilitate their search, but don’t push or control it. While Avery’s parents did this, I felt that Avery was really looking to find herself as an African American woman – which her Caucasian mothers really didn’t seem to be able to help her with. Connecting to her birth mother might have given her a better sense of “self” and belonging to a race that Avery expressed she didn’t really connect with. Friends provided her with a sense of belonging, but she needed more and her mothers didn’t help facilitate this. But on the whole I was very pleased that her mothers gave her space to figure out her life. This showed that they had raised a very level headed woman with good judgment skills and capabilities.
Beth from Baltimore, MD, said:
I am deeply aware of some of the issues, having given away my first born in 1968, when it was not in the publics eye or societies comprehension to do otherwise. We have come a long way and documentaries like this will help us all to realize the importance of open records for adoptees… I hope this film inspires all adoptees to search, all birthmothers to be open to the possibility of a future relationship, and all adoptive parents to not be threatened but these ideas…
Our sincere gratitude goes out to all our commenters: thank you for sharing your thoughts. More comments, questions and conversations can be found on the websites for Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy and Off and Running. Don’t forget to check out interviews with filmmakers Stephanie Wang-Breal (Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy) and Nicole Opper (Off and Running).
The third and final film in the Adoption Stories series, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee by Deann Borshay Liem, airs on PBS Tuesday September 14th. Watch the film – and then tell us what you think!