Reviews of Jean Strauss’s Two Documentary Films:

Review of the documentary films, Adopted: for the life of me & A Simple Piece of Paper

These are films written, produced, directed and narrated by adoptee advocate, author, and filmmaker, Jean Strauss. The focus is primarily on adult adoptees from what is often called “The Baby-Scoop Era”. (think Baby-Boomer generation) These films bring to light the impact and potential for damage and loss that secrets about the adoption process cause, especially if it is a closed adoption, which was the norm in the 1940s-70s.

Adopted: for the life of me opens with an image of a dark traffic tunnel, which artfully symbolizes the emergence of life outside the womb and also the emotional “journey” many adopted people will face if they choose to explore their adoption back story and all the results of their findings. Adopted: for the life of me, offers a glimpse into the lives of adoptees Dave, Pam, Robert and Joe and how the unfairness and mysteriousness of not knowing about their origins have affected their careers, parenting, and other relationships.

Some thought-provoking points in this documentary:

*When Robert explains how seeing his children’s baby footprints done by the hospital at birth made him feel regarding is own unanswered questions.

*The quote:  “If it seems cruel to tell someone they have no right to know about their past, it’s downright criminal to tell them they have no right to their own medical background.”

*The fact is made that a purebred dog has more family history than most adopted human beings.

*The dichotomy between the states of Kansas’s and Missouri’s adoption records laws and how State Line Road splits citizens.

*Another quote: “The secrecy of closed adoption can lead to more secrets and unexposed desires and needs.”

*A final quote: “Living things need light to survive.”

This video closes as the vehicle exits the tunnel and drives forward into the light of day but also toward the light of knowledge.


Strauss has also written, filmed and produced a documentary called A Simple Piece of Paper. It is specifically about how the state of Illinois opened their adoptee birth records in 2011 and how that has changed the lives of many adopted people and their biological parents and siblings. It’s styled as a collection of personal accounts of adoptees’ experiences in applying for their paperwork and what it feels like to have direct knowledge of one’s heritage, health history and whereabouts of biological relatives for the very first time.

A Simple Piece of Paper demonstrates that an adopted adult obtaining their original birth information will not cause them to “dump” their adoptive family members. In fact, it could be a chance to build relationships and actually grow a family.

It is also compelling to listen to adoptee Jennifer’s testament as a law enforcement employee, to state how much the truth matters to human lives in her line of work, so why shouldn’t the truth of one’s origins be equally as vital for an adoptee? Having the right to your information removes feelings of worthlessness and powerlessness.

Adoptee Gay Ellen’s struggle to obtain accurate medical background information so that insurance will not deny her coverage for expensive but necessary tests is another valid reason why adopted adults wish to search. Her search could have a potential impact on her own daughter and granddaughter. The point is, adopted adults who have the chance to acquire health history are not being self-indulgent but instead realize it is critical for their future family members, including spouses who wish to be supportive.

Both documentaries, Adopted: for the life of me and A Simple Piece of Paper are highly engaging to watch, professional and humanistic. This is reality at its finest, making many worthy and well-researched points about the longest lasting ramifications and outcomes from closed adoption: How it impacts one’s mental and physical wellness and the ability to progress throughout life as a whole and validated human being.

Both documentaries can be found on

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  • Erin  On September 24, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    Thank you for the info on these two documentaries!! I was wondering if faith in God’s plan was ever mentioned in any of the adoptees? I would be int to know as I am researching and writing my book about my adoption story and how Faith in God helped.

    • Kerri Saint  On September 25, 2018 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Erin, I am an adoptee, neither of my adoptive parents believed in a God, other than to attack me with and send me cold shiver down my spine. Despite this I stepped out in faith ( without them) as a young person, and grew to have a real relationship with my heavenly Father.. However it has not been smooth sailing, far from it. I can say for certain that If I did not have a sense of faith in my life I would not be alive today. I was told my bio mother tried to abort me and never wanted me..Both adoptive parents abused me and I was used as child slave labor. It was not until my adult life that my relationship with God took me on an amazing journey of discover to who I really am, and knowing my real value. My adoption if devoid of God, would have crushed me and killed my spirit to live. I believe stores in the Bible such as Joseph and Moses are great lessons for adopted people, both were ripped from their biological family and felt the scorn of not being accepted. Despite their trials they clung to God and learned to be great leaders, who overcame great adversity, and rose above it all with Gods assistance. I agree Erin, a book on the subject is a great idea.

  • Paige Adams Strickland  On September 24, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    I think these films are fairly secular for the most part.

  • Lynne Miller  On October 16, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    Watching “A Simple Piece of Paper” brought tears to my eyes. An impactful film that I can relate to. I’ll check out the other one.

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