Monday, July 28, 2014

Love Child Adoption Movie Review

The South Korean-American documentary Love Child debuts tonight on HBO. The film covers the 2010 death in South Korea of three-month old infant Sarang. Sarang’s parents were addicted to an online game, and played it for many hours each night at an internet parlor. On the night of Sarang’s death, her parents left her unattended for many hours.

How Does This Connect to Adoption and Foster Care?
The film doesn’t cover adoption or foster care, but it makes me raise a question, perhaps because of my role as a supervisor in foster care and adoption. Sarang’s parents were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Their punishment was lessened because the court viewed their crime as a result of their addiction. Sarang’s parents are pregnant again. They have promised not to play any online games.
How much involvement should child protective services have in the early life of this new child? I can certainly see the value of monitoring this family to ensure that this new baby’s life does not become endangered. What do you think? Should the government stay away, because the family has expressed remorse and a desire to change? Should the child’s early life be monitored? Should the child preemptively be placed in alternative care? How do the rights of parents interact with the need of a child for dependable safety, and whose job is it to evaluate safety in a situation like this?

Strong Points
The film tries to present a balanced view of Sarang’s parents. They were negligent, but also remorseful; they made poor choices, but did face real challenges. There is value in viewing someone roundly rather than passing judgment on their character based on one observation, even when that observation is very powerful.

A photograph of Sarang’s corpse could be traumatizing to some viewers, as could some of the details of the neglect she experienced.
Sarang’s parents were addicted to an internet game called Prius. The plot of the game comes through the documentary, to some extent, and it is also troubling. Players are granted a child to raise. Later, their child chooses to die to save the player. Then, the player raises the child from the dead, but this causes long-lasting grief in the world.

Weak Points
The film touches on online addiction, but doesn’t go particularly deep into anything.

Love Child might be worth seeing in order to wrestle with some of the questions I ask earlier in this review, but it might be traumatic or saddening viewing for some. The film is best suited to adults instead of kids and teenagers because of some of the subject matter, and it’s not particularly entertaining or educational.

When to See It

Love Child airs on HBO at 9:00 tonight, on July 31 at 11:15 am and 6:00 pm, August 3 at 4:00 om, August 5 at 1:15 pm, and August 16 at 8:30 am. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Feeling Faces Tachometer

An Adoption at the Movies reader who blogs at Parents of Color Seek Newborn to Adopt recently created an emotional tachometer for kids, inspired by a review of Planes: Fire and Rescue. She has lots of great pictures of the craft-in-progress, too. With her kind permission, here is a re-post of her post. Happy crafting!
I read a review of Planes Fire and Rescue at Adoption at the Movies and it gave me the inspiration to create a feeling faces tachometer. If you want to know why please read the review on Adoption at the Movies. If you’d like to view the amazing feeling faces tach, please forge ahead!
These are the materials I used. They are all things that I found around the house. #UpCycle
These are the materials I used. They are all things that I found around the house. #UpCycle
  • Print out of feeling faces tach that I made in Fireworks
  • Cardboard from baby mittens wrapping
  • Old business card
  • Scissors
  • Bronze fastener
  • Elmer’s spray glue
Cut out the tach and glue it to your piece of scrap cardboard.
Cut out the tach and glue it to your piece of scrap cardboard.
Cut out the tach.
Cut out the tach.
Color a long stripe on the business card. You'll use this for the arrow.
Color a long stripe on the business card. You’ll use this for the arrow.
Cut the red stripe off. Cut the two top corners off the top. Viola! An arrow!
Cut the red stripe off. Cut the two top corners off the top. Viola! An arrow!
It would have been great if I would have though to bring my hole-punch earlier.
It would have been great if I would have though to bring my hole-punch earlier.
Place your arrow where you'd like it on the tach and punch a hole.
Place your arrow where you’d like it on the tach and punch a hole.
My tach is happy that this project is complete!
My tach is happy that this project is complete!
Here is the feeling faces tachometer that I made on my computer in case you’d like to make your own.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Girl Like Her Adoption Movie Review

Ann Fessler’s documentary, A Girl Like Her, revisits America in the 50’s and 60’s to explore the experience of single women who became pregnant then. Fessler blends the women’s own stories in their own words with 50’s- and 60’s-era sex education videos. The documentary is uncomfortable to watch. The sex education videos blatantly assign full responsibility for physicality in relationships to women; the women interviewed express that their parents reacted very poorly when they learned of their daughters’ pregnancies. One father called his daughter a whore. One mother “treated it like her own personal tragedy.” One family moved “so no one would know.” One religious leader told a mother that her baby would be “stuck in purgatory” unless she allowed an adoption. Some were forced to choose between relinquishing their baby or being ostracized from their family of origin. Their words are powerful. One explained, “I didn’t give him away. He was taken. He was never meant to be a gift.” Another related, “I felt like I had no choice.” One says, “No matter how many children you have, this emptiness is still there. Trauma attaches itself to you in a way that’s hard to undo.” Some women reported a sense of shame that followed them their whole life; one never even told her husband about the child she had earlier in life. One woman said, “You never get over this.” Fessler’s documentary captures the cruelty that was experienced by many pregnant women in this era, and the pain they experienced. It’s not easy to watch.

 It’s also difficult to see reflections of the approaches that adoption agencies utilized. One clip shares that “only children in good health are offered [for adoption so that they bring] happiness, not burden.” Another professional explains a desire to reserve “brighter children for [mentally] superior families.”

I think it is worth seeing, for prospective adoptive parents, though. There seems to be a widely-held misconception that adoptions have historically been closed and secretive. Some people pursuing adoption do so with a sense of entitlement to a child with no attachment to his or her birthfamily. This film is helpful because it shows where these expectations may have come from.

If you’ve spent time on adoption blogs, you’ve probably read the words of some people who have been hurt by adoption and who are generally quite strongly opposed to it.  Watching A Girl Like Her might be a safe way to understand where they’re coming from.

The film focuses on coercion, pain and loss. There aren’t really any happy stories. It’s not balanced within itself. But it can be part of a balanced film-based education for people pursuing adoption.


This is worth seeing if you’re considering adoption. Please especially think about seeing it if you’ve never considered an open adoption. It’s best-aimed at adults. It will be especially painful (but possibly affirming) viewing for parents who have relinquished children.

Questions for Discussion

What do you imagine about the parents of the child you will adopt (or have already adopted?)

What’s the difference between “finding a family for a child” and “finding a child for a family?”

What’s the difference between confidentiality and secrecy?

Recommended Reading

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Planes Fire and Rescue - Movie Review (Adoption Movie Review)

Cropduster-turned-pro racer Dusty Crophopper has a problem. His gear box is failing, which means that he will not be able to race professionally. His elderly friend, Mayday, has a problem too – he is no longer capable of maintaining safety at the local airport; the airport will be shut down unless Mayday can find an assistant firefighter – and in the hot season, that is no easy task. Dusty courageously agrees to become Mayday’s assistant, and so he sets off to a distant national park for training. While there, Dusty finds new friends as well as Blade Ranger, a potential role model for Dusty who has transitioned from an acting career into a long career as a rescue helicopter.  Dusty isn’t too good of a student, and his attempts at heroism put Blade in danger – however, through bravery, Dusty becomes a certified fire and rescue helicopter – this allows him to return home to help Mayday reopen the airport. Will Dusty also be able to return to pro racing? Well, it is a Disney movie…

 How Does This Connect to Adoption or Foster Care

Kids in foster care (or maybe, kids in general…) sometimes have difficulty regulating their emotions. Dusty has to be aware of his internal stress (OK, it’s torque… he’s a plane – but for this analogy to work, I’ve gotta stretch it a little). Dusty has a meter to indicate his level of stress, and a warning light that will go off to warn him when he is reaching a point of stress that would be harmful. This could be a helpful analogy and tool for kids – what’s your meter at? Is your warning light going off?

Positive Points

Dusty is a loyal friend. He also is able to deal with deep disappointment and to transition his attention and effort into other goals.

Dusty also highlights the importance of communication. Blade Ranger doesn’t understand why Dusty holds back his efforts until Dusty tells him that he’s having mechanical problems. Then, Blade softens his approach, encourages Dusty, and ultimately gets him the help he needs.
The film makes palatable the fact that even heroes have heroes – and heroes aren’t always the people who are celebrated by the general public.

Dusty is encouraged to be persistent; one character advises him, “Life doesn’t always go the way you expect, but if you give up, think of all [the good you won’t accomplish] tomorrow.” The character who gives 

Dusty that advice has lived it out – he lost a friend in a crash, and committed his life to doing good. Also, the film shows that you can heal from disappointment and loss.


The film will probably only appeal to younger viewers, and the scenes of fire are intense enough to be frightening to some. There are some jokes geared towards adults that young viewers won’t get, but might ask about.

Weak Point

One character seems to be Native American, but portrayal uses dated stereotypes for laughs; it’s a little disappointing.


There’s actually quite a lot of positive stuff to take from Planes: Fire and Rescue. I really like the concept of a “torque” meter, and I’ll suggest an activity based on that in a minute. The movie doesn’t have too much of a story, and it feels like it could have fit into 40 minutes rather than the 70 it actually takes, but little kids probably won’t mind. It probably is best suited to kids 8 and under.


When have you been disappointed so badly that you wanted to quit? What did you do?

What would have happened if Dusty quit training to be a rescue plane? Why did he keep trying? What finally happened?

Activity for After the Film

Why not make a “torque” meter for each kid (and adult?) in your family. Try a paper plate with a construction paper arrow, fastened by something that’ll let the arrow spin around freely. What an interesting way to enter into conversations about emotions and energy levels, and to facilitate self-awareness among your kids.
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