Monday, October 28, 2013

Movie Recommendations for Cross-Cultural or International Adoption

The first Adoption at the Movies contest ended a week ago, and by now the winners are enjoying their first look at Closure. I want to share the winners’ film recommendations with you. Cross-cultural adoption introduces new aspects to the life of a person who has been adopted. Identity questions are often asked early on. Searching may be much more challenging than in the case of a domestic adoption. Here are four films that Adoption at the Movies readers have found helpful and meaningful as they relate to cross-cultural adoptions. 

Liz shared about a very powerful, first-person documentary that connects with her own life story.
My favorite adoption film that I've seen recently is the PBS documentary First Person Plural by and about Deann Borshay Liem. Borshay's film is so moving because she is not only a wonderful filmmaker, but a brave subject as she turns the camera on 
herself and her own adoption story. It is raw, vulnerable, and unflinching in its exploration of transracial and transnational adoption, as well as search & reunion. As an adult adoptee who has experienced reunion and knows how inexplicably complex, thrilling, and excruciating it often is, I found Deann's willingness to film her reunion process incredibly courageous. I related so much to her confusion, conflicting desires, grief, and awe. I particularly appreciated her candidness about trying to integrate this tectonic shift into her identity, her feelings of belonging to both families/cultures, and how emotionally isolating the process can feel at times. Her follow up film In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is also wonderful. Both are must sees!

Jessie shared about another documentary:

My favorite movie is called Somewhere Between. It chronicles the lives of four Chinese adoptee teens in America. Check it out at

It's so raw and powerful that my friend's dad, a hardened navy vet, cried in the movie theater. Each story is relatable in some way and the movie touched me immensely. It's honest in the fact that it deals with birth parent searching and the pain that these teens experience. It deals with race, non-traditional families, abandonment, and the classic growing up story. There is no sugar coating, just a human connection. It's not only my favorite adoption movie, but my favorite movie.

Finally, Brandi-Lin shared about two films that have helped her find healing in her own story:

I am a Korean adopted woman, who is actually adopting :) My favorite adoption film? I would have to say it's a complete tie between Juno and Kung Fu Panda 2. I think Juno has a great look at the birth mother's perspective. It was humorous and the ending was beautiful, in that the baby went to be with the adoptive mother. Being an adoptee watching a movie like Juno gave me perspective as to what life could have been like for my birth mother as she waited to give me up. The humor in light of the great sadness gave me some healing and realization that we are all people just trying to make it in our very diverse circumstances. Kung Fu Panda 2 had me crying and laughing. I think the obvious physical difference of Po and his father made it clear to me that Po was adopted. But watching Po realize he is adopted and learning to love himself was heartwarming for someone who also has had a similar journey.

Finding any new favorites yet? Look for more adoption movie recommendations over the next week!

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