Review of the film, ADOPTED

Film producer and director, Barb Lee, in 2008, created a documentary film about the life paths of two transracial adoption families simply called, ADOPTED. This film is thought-provoking and realistic as it tracks the touch points of two adoptive family situations: one, a Korean-born adult adoptee who is dealing with the terminal illness of her adoptive mother and the other is a PAC, (prospective Adoptive Couple), who anxiously await the arrival of their soon-to-be daughter who was born in China. Although the adoptees in this film are from countries outside the US, many of the emotions and thoughts expressed by the family members are universal in all adoption cases, past and present, domestic or abroad.

The PAC, (John and Jacqui), has all the best intentions as they prepare for the future arrival of their baby daughter in China. They are hopeful and thoughtful. The PAM (Prospective Adoptive Mother, Jacqui), shares her compassion for the unknown birth mother of the baby she is soon to adopt and discusses the grief that birth mother might be feeling as the birthdate and adoption date of the baby approaches. Their family and friends throw a shower for the PAC and they reflect on how their future adopted baby might feel bewilderment and grief due to all the life changes imposed at such a young age and how they feel an urgency to validate those issues in order to move forward in a healthy parent-child relationship.

Jennifer, the Korean adult adoptee, struggles to explain to her now disabled adoptive mother why she feels an understanding of and a sense of connectedness to the biological mother she has never met. Jennifer thinks her adoptive parents might be in denial of her actual heritage as she compensates to make up for her physical and cultural differences in order to fit in and meet her adoptive parents’ expectations.

Her very loving and well-intentioned adoptive mother honestly admits, “…I want you all to myself.” Jennifer attempts to explain the “invisible privilege” that birth families have, which is acknowledging how family members resemble one another. This is sometimes called “mirroring” and is when an adopted person gets the chance to finally see themselves via the actions and appearances of fellow biological relatives. Jennifer shares a powerful suggestion with her adoptive mother, “You’ll actually get more of me if you imagine that I was connected to someone else at one time…” Jennifer wants her adoptive mother to share in the curiosity about her first past. She sees this as a way to feel validated and accepted as an independent, free-thinking adult adoptee who holds no ill-will or anger toward anyone.

This is a great documentary for demonstrating contemporary viewpoints of trans-racial/national adoption but it also shares many feelings and issues experienced by all adopted people, regardless of heritage. Jennifer, the adult adoptee who is caring for her adoptive mother, is not bitter about her situation but struggles to seek truth and respect for her beliefs. The PAC, John and Jacqui, does not present as greedy, controlling nor judgmental of the birth mother in this film although they are shown as motivated and eager to become parents. The agency from which John and Jacqui’s new daughter came appears organized, appropriate and having the child’s best interests at heart. (Admittedly, not all placement agencies have operated (and do operate) this way, but in this case, the film presents this place and its caregivers as being on the up and up.

Adopted is engaging and presents with empathy, respect, and compassion for all the participants involved. It does not favor one side of the adoption constellation over another. It’s a rare find to come across any film or piece of writing that can evoke emotions yet display an unbiased perspective.

This film is available on Amazon Prime and YouTube.

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