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Live Chat with Filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem

Filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem will be chatting with viewers on Wednesday, September 15 at 2:00 p.m. EST. Sign up for a reminder below!



POV: Thanks for joining us for this live chat! Filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem will be joining us at 2:00 ET to answer your questions.

POV: We'll be getting started in just a few minutes - but if you like, please go ahead and enter your questions. We'll hold them in the queue and they will be published by the moderator as the session goes on.

POV: Hi everyone! And welcome, Deann!

deann: Hi everyone. Great to join you all!

Comment From Desiree
I enjoyed this episode very much, as I do with most all of PBS and its offshoots. I really felt her loss, so tangible, and so sad...It is a shame that some countries used children in orphanages as a commodity. I am glad she found out her history so quickly in writing to the orphanage. It is the not knowing that can drive you over the edge. And still, you're left with a "hole in the heart." I am so glad that making this video helped her to heal as much as possible…

Comment From Michelle
Deann, in your opinion, how do we advocate for the best interest of the child-at-risk and provide meaningful resources to allow the biological family the choice to remain intact?

deann: There is a great deal of effort by adoptee groups in Korea, as well as birth mother groups...

deann: to educate the public, and advocate for greater support for single parent families...

deann: families in need and unwed mothers...

deann: I think this all helps to provide greater choice for unwed mothers who at the moment face tremendous obstacles and social stigma.

Comment From Michael Scriven It seemed just as valuable to you the journey you took into finding THE Cha Jung Hee as it was meeting her. How do you feel our experience would have differed if you immediately found her?

deann: I agree with you that the journey was just as important as finding THE Cha Jung Hee...

deann: If I had found her right away, though, I think I would have still faced questions about the true meaning of this search...

deann: which went deeper than I anticipated and had to do with my own mixed feelings...

deann: about whether I truly belonged to my adoptive family, to my adopted nation, because I had arrived in this country under false pretense.

Comment From Guest
Some adoptees seek answers and closure, but sometimes specific information isn't available. And sometimes we know a "successful" search creates more questions. How did you come to terms with ambiguity?

deann: Yes you're absolutely right that even successful searches create more questions than answers...

deann: As an adoptee I feel as though my life is a paradox...

deann: On the one hand, I've had opportunities in the U.S. that I would never had if I had stayed in Korea...

deann: on the other hand, there was tremendous loss in having become an American...

deann: I guess I've tried to live with this paradox or ambiguity, and try to accept both aspects of this as simply the life I have...

deann: I have to also add that my search was uniquely straight-forward...

deann: Most adoptees who undertake a search for birth family have tremendous difficulties that can be endlessly frustrating...

deann: I think it requires a great deal of emotional strength and commitment to go through the process.

Comment From Anne
I am a big fan of First Person Plural and loved last night's follow up program. Has your identity as an American changed in the process of making the films?

deann: One of the biggest revelations about making this second film, in addition to meeting the Cha Jung Hees...

deann: was coming to terms with my own feelings about being an American and my American identity...

deann: I think because I came to the U.S. under another girl's identity, there was a way in which I never fully embraced my life here...

deann: and always wondered whether I truly belonged, not only in my adoptive family but also in America as a country...

deann: This is actually an exciting realization for me and will hopefully in the coming years help shift my internal landscape to embracing this destiny and life as my own.

Comment From Julia
What is your relationship to South Korea and Korean culture now? Do you visit often? Do you feel like a Korean, an American or a Korean American?

deann: I do visit Korea when I can, usually once a year or every other year...

deann: I see my birth family whenever I go there and increasingly feel more comfortable there...

deann: It's taken years but I feel I am Korean American now, although sometimes, if I don't speak, I feel I can pass as a Korean in the markets!

Comment From Denise
Great show last night!! I have a daughter adopted from China...really opened my eyes to the other side of things...based on Asians thoughts.

Comment From Julia
I would love to know more about that TV show you were on in South Korea. I heard that it is a show totally devoted to adoptees searching for family, and is a big hit in Korea (and it had an interesting title, too, but I forget it now). Is that true?

deann: Yes, there are actually a number of shows in Korea that feature reunions between Korean adoptees and birth family...

deann: The show I was on is called Morning Forum, I Miss This Person, but I understand it is no longer running...

deann: However there are other programs that have taken its place and many Korean adoptees utilize the media to try to find their families.

Comment From Helena
Deanne,it was a wonderful moment when you could see your adoption file- can you tell us if the information that is written in the files of Korean babies sent overseas today is indeed their true birth name,birth date,and other information is accurate as the woman from SWS stated? I would hope that adopted babies/children today can have accurate information to work with in finding their birth parents

deann: I think the practice of international adoptions from Korea has changed considerably since 1966 when I was adopted...

deann: and I think in general social workers and other adoption workers try their best to keep accurate records...

deann: I have, though, talked to a number of adoptees whose records are somehow not accurate - like birth dates not being the right date, or records of birth parents who are dead when they are alive...

deann: But there's no statistic or research that points to how often this takes place...

deann: I agree with you and hope that children who are adopted today have accurate information and that there's a paper trail in case they wish to find birth family one day.

Comment From Yummy Snark
Your film has made me more interested in the Korean war (which iknow nothing about). Will any of your next projects cover it?

deann: Yes, I'm currently working on a film called "Memory of Forgotten War" which explores the experiences of Korean civilians who survived the war...

deann: If you'd like to see a work-in-progress, it's available on my website at www.mufilms.org.

Comment From Heewon Lee
Deann, just saw the film online, amazing! Thank you so much for the film. What a journey. I am most amazed that SWS found your file and actually let you see it. I had a very hard time seeing my file. :)

Comment From Wendy
Can you address the importance for international adoptees to have access to their birth language and culture from a very young age? It has appeared to me that it would be even more difficult for an adoptee to attempt a search without at least a rudimentary education in the language of their country of birth. It is something we made sure to provide our daughter from China and she is fluent in Chinese language, even though she came to us at 8 months. We are lucky to live in the Bay Area, where this is possible. But it is also something we felt very strongly we owed our daughter, like food, shelter, and education, not something we should be congratulated for doing. What is your feeling on this?

deann: Just to respond quickly to Heewon, I was amazed that SWS let me see and make copies of my file...

deann: but I think it was because I had already met my birth family and issues of confidentiality no longer mattered...

deann: In most cases, adoptees have a tremendously difficult time with seeing their records...

deann: or getting copies of their own documents which is frustrating and inhumane in my opinion.

deann: In response to Wendy, I think it's great that your daughter is fluent in Chinese!...

deann: Having access to birth language and culture and community is so important on so many levels, including birth family search if that takes place...

deann: It is among my regrets that I was never able to re-learn Korean and talk to my own birth mother in a language she understands.

Comment From David
I'm an adoptee had some very mixed reactions from Koreans when I was over there. What do you think is the overall korean attitude regarding korean adoptees?

deann: I'm curious when you were there? I think attitudes toward adoptees have changed and is also different whether you're in Seoul or in rural areas...

deann: There's a lot more education about the adoption experience, in part led by adoptees themselves who live in Seoul...

deann: I'm hoping that there will be increasing openness about adoption and adoptees in the years to come.

Comment From Amy
What advice do you have for adoptees searching for their identities?

deann: Hmmm, that's a tough one...

deann: If a search for your birth family is part of the search for identity, I think it's important and helpful to have strong support from friends and family...

deann: and to talk to other adoptees who have undertaken the process...

deann: There are also adoptee support groups that can help provide information, contacts and sometimes help conduct the search...

deann: A good starting point is POV's websites for this film and also the two other adoption films in their series.

Comment From Guest
Assuming you are now yourself a parent, how does your experience affect your approach to parenting generally and helping your child develop an identity as an ethnic American specifically?

deann: I am indeed a parent of a wonderful 16 year old...

deann: and I've often thought about how the experience of adoption has affected my parenting...

deann: Overall I think I've had to remember that he is not me, and that his experience of growing up is quite different from mine...

deann: He is a Korean American kid growing up in the U.S... I think this is how he sees himself, as a Korean American or Asian American...

deann: But to be honest I don't think we've ever talked about his feelings around identity...

deann: I'm going to ask him about it tonight!

Comment From Steph
Did you or do you ever struggle with the intersection of mixing your work (i.e., your profession) with your own autobiography, especially given the complex, paradoxical nature that you described earlier?

deann: Yes! Making films about oneself is a strange experience and I've thought a lot about why I do it...

deann: At the same time, I have considered it a privilege to be creating films that have allowed me to express some of my deepest thoughts and emotions...

deann: and feel that these films have helped me become sane...

deann: I also feel that film or art in general is a wonderful way to express and communicate what it feels to live a paradox.

Comment From Randi
Also do you have any advice for young potential documentary filmakers?

deann: Go out and make some films! There's no better way to learn. Also watch as many films as you can and learn from your favorites.

POV: Thank you, Deann!

POV: That's all the time we have today. If Deann didn't answer your question during this chat, she will be answering more viewer questions on the website http://www.pbs.org/pov/chajunghee/ask_the_filmmaker.php

Comment From David Nakase
Congratulations Dianne

Comment From Lisa
Deann, I just wanted to say how much I loved your films. You've documented your journey so beautifully.

deann: Thank you, POV, and everyone for participating!

POV: Thanks to everyone who has participated! Be sure to check out the rest of our website for a discussion guide, lesson plan, more videos, and to share your own stories.





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