Adoption in the Media
If you could feel the pain in my chest when forms say “parent or guardian” you’d want to rip your heart out and never put it back again because there’s no way to bend the truth that your signature belongs on that line defined as your blood, your daughter.
Didn’t matter when I was younger but now I feel slaughtered.
In 1975 with the fall of Saigon, 2000 Amerasian children, some of them orphaned and some of them not, were airlifted to the United States and adopted. This incredible documentary is the story of Heidi, who hopes that finding her birth mother in Vietnam will help heal some of the wounds from that she experienced and also help with the fact that she is estranged from her adoptive mother. Heidi remembers Vietnam and her birth family because she was six years old when she was airlifted out. It was very difficult for me to watch the real footage of all of the screaming and crying children who were put on the planes by mothers who feared that there Amerasian children would be in danger if they kept them in Vietnam. Heidi’s birth mother was told that the North Vietnamese were planning on burning these children alive. Heidi does return to find a complete family, including the man who fathered her brothers and sisters, but not her. Her birth mother had a relationship with a service man to be able to provide what she needed to support her family while her husband was away fighting. If you have read the story Read more
Even before I was immersed in the stories and research about adoption, I intuitively knew that my children understood exactly when their birth mothers disappeared from their lives. Since I don’t have the details of how that happened, I don’t know exactly how and when their mothers left…I just always knew that their disappearance had registered in my children’s hearts. I also knew this would have a profound impact on them, and that I would have many issues to deal with. As I have become more and more “expert” on all things related to adoption, I have found many compelling books. I recently read The Primal Wound, by Nancy Verrier, who is a psychologist and an adoptive mother. She begins by educating us about all babies and their awareness of everything, both pre-and post-birth. She first introduces us to Dr. Chamberlain. In his book, Babies Remember Birth, Dr. Chamberlain tells us, “Babies know more than they’re supposed to know. Minutes after birth, a baby can pick out his mother’s face — which he has never seen — from a gallery of photos. The newly discovered truth is that new born babies have all of their senses and make use of Read more
I knew the minute that I found John’s incredible film, that I wanted to discuss it in the magazine. John Sanvidge was adopted from Seoul, South Korea at five months old and raised in a loving family in upstate New York. Like other adoptees, John integrated so nicely into his family life, he says that, “unless I looked in the mirror, I wouldn’t know that I wasn’t white.” Nonetheless, in his 20s he began to think about his birth country . . . and his birth family. John works as an editor and filmmaker and graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2006. He has edited shows that have aired on A&E, Discovery Health, National Geographic Wild Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Speed And Biography. He chose to make Finding Seoul, his own film of his trip back to Korea and many discoveries he made about himself, his country of origin, and the shocking discovery he made about his birth family. I asked John to write a paragraph about why he made the film, so I will let him tell you his story, and then invite you to watch the preview of the film. I know you’ll enjoy it as Read more
The Kids Are All Right was a critically acclaimed movie released a couple years ago. It is the first movie, to my knowledge that treats the issue of reproduction technology in a serious way. The children of two gay moms decide to search for their sperm donor, because like all children, they are very curious about their dads. When they contact the dad, he has forgotten even donated sperm 19 years ago. I found that the kids feelings of curiosity to be very true to life and the concern that they would hurt their “moms” feelings if they searched, are also very true to life. The first meeting with Paul is full of awkward pauses and strangled conversation, but the kids do feel a bond with this man with their dad. He surprises himself by feeling something for them as well. The moms have different reactions to Paul. One of the moms find the experience to be totally natural and normal and appears not to be threatened by the experience. The other mom, begins to worry that she will need to “timeshare her kids”, and is feeling particularly threatened by this because her daughter is about to leave for college. Read more
“The Triumvirate” by Jean Strauss is the first film I had ever seen about adoption. Jean and I have exchanged a few emails and talked on the phone, and I have told her she owes me at least one box of Kleenex. I’ve watched the film dozens of times alone and with many people, and tears come every time. “The Triumvirate” was a student film Jean created at the New York Film Academy and went on to be named the Best of Fest at the 2004 Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films. It went on to win several other festival awards. What is so amazing about this film is that in 14 powerful minutes, Jean captures so many of the facts and emotions surrounding adoption and all of its participants. Beginning at the “delivery room” where she arrived in the world, she sets the scene with the sign on the door that says keep doors closed, and says simply, “I couldn’t do that.” Although Jean has a happy childhood with her adoptive family, it is when she has her first child, that her journey to reunite with her birth family begins. She is so honest about the conflict Read more
I am a part of the generation of women who remember the girls who went away. In my high school, she was a cheerleader who dated a football player, became pregnant and virtually disappeared our senior year. Almost everyone I meet who is my age can tell you the exact story about a friend or relative. The groundbreaking book, The Girls Who Went Away, presents this remarkable story by sharing the oral histories of the girls themselves. Ann Fessler not only shares their stories, but also puts context around the story of the 1.5 million babies that were given up for adoption between World War II and 1973. While American cultural mores were beginning to support the idea of a sexual revolution and premarital sex, the idea of being an unwed mother was simply horrifying to almost everyone. The babies were considered illegitimate and pregnancy outside of a marriage was considered a disgrace for all involved. What I found so remarkable about this book was that while each story was an individual and personal story, they all had so much in common. Most of the parents of these girls decided that this issue was about them, and not the girl Read more
Many of our contributors have gained great wisdom and insight from reading good books about adoption. These are some of Linda Hoye’s favorites. I also have learned a great deal about adoption from reading phenomenal books. I always learned something new, acquired a new insight or approach, and/or gained a new understanding about my children, their birth parents, and myself. – Jane Ballback As an adoptee, I’ve been blessed to find a number of excellent books written by and for adoptees. A few examples are: Whose Child?:An Adoptee’s Healing Journey from Relinquishment through Reunion … and Beyond by Kasey Hamner Mother Me: An Adopted Woman’s Journey to Motherhood by Zara Phillips Lost and Found:The Adoption Experience by Betty Jean Lifton The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child by Nancy Verrier Found: A Memoir by Jennifer Lauck Journey of the Adopted Self : A Quest for Wholeness by Betty Jean Lifton All of these books speak to the common traits we, as adoptees, share. It’s been comforting to me to know that many of the insecurities I’ve struggled with throughout my life stem, in part, from the wounding of being separated from my birth mother and denied access to my heritage, and that Read more