Wonder Boy: Documentary Review

In 2019, 30-year-old fashion director/designer, Olivier Rousteing created a documentary about how he searched for his biological parents and the feelings and thoughts he processed along the way. The film  is set mostly in France with English subtitles. Rousteing, (Ethiopian and Somalian by heritage) was adopted as a baby and raised in a white French family, which makes him a transracial/ transnational adoptee. 

This colorful, artsy film takes the viewer along on Olivier’s journey, literally and emotionally as he travels for business and in search of his origins. He shares his struggle of navigating the French adoption system (“red tape”) with various intermediaries who are required to read through his adoption files with him and forward personal letters prior to advancing in the search. While he understands it’s not the social workers as people who are being difficult, and instead it’s the system, his frustration is clear. His emotions run high as he discovers morsels of information which lead to more questions as time goes on. 

Olivier Rousteing brings up an excellent point and message for anyone conducting a search like his: This will impact the rest of your life, even if you never meet in person. The search stage is an unforgettable experience filled with unexpected sentiments and discoveries. In Olivier’s case, he wants to see people who look like he does, and he wants to know why the adoption happened in the first place. He wants to find out whether or not his birth story is one of sadness or love. As he forages ahead he describes his mindset as being in a “prison of anger”, because he has been very hard on himself throughout his young life to excel in his learning and profession. He hates what happened in his start in life yet grateful to be alive. 

Two quotes from the film, Wonder Boy, jumped out at me:

“When your parents don’t want you, you wonder what you’re doing here.” and

“As long as I don’t know who I am, I can’t love myself.”

Pow! He nailed it!

Watch this film. If you love travel and French culture you will appreciate it. If you are enchanted by the fashion industry it’s a must-see. (J-Lo makes a brief appearance as a model.) If you are considering or going through a birth/bio parent search, this movie will validate your feelings and remind you that as adoptees, we are not alone, no matter where in the world we’ve been brought up.

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