July 9, 2010

Wo Ai Ni Mommy (Review)

Just sat through a premiere screening of an enlightening new documentary by Stephanie Wang called "Wo Ai Ni Mommy" ("I Love You Mommy") and can't even put into words the thoughts spinning through my head...

It's about a Jewish family from New York as they travel to China to adopt an 8 year old Chinese girl who has lived with her beloved foster family most of her life, mainly to fulfill the role of "big sis" to the "baby" of the family, a 3-year old "daughter", also adopted from China.

The first time this little girl laid eyes on her new "Mother" was caught on tape at a busy airport (or somewhere chaotic) that was so noisy you could barely hear the words being spoken. It all seemed so rushed and hurried, almost in a panic. What words you do hear are translated into English subtitles...phrases like, "You are no longer...your new name is "Faith"..."Don't call your foster mother, this is your new "Mommy"...Do you understand?

All this was overwhelming the little child whose tear-filled eyes resembled those of a scared animal more than a human. When asked if she had any questions, her only comments were that "the new 'Mommy' didn't look like the lady in the picture", and "Do you like fish?"

The horror-show only got worse...back at the hotel...the same hotel we had watched the adoptive mother as she sat on the bed nervously counting out stacks of crisp bills; commenting about how she really "didn't mind" the necessity of paying the expected "fees" necessary to seal the deal.

Almost immediately upon return, the English flash-cards came out and the tutoring began...this child HAD to learn English and fast. Giggles were heard throughout the auditorium as Faith (in her adorable accent) struggled to please and sound like her new Mommy's voice as she carefully sounded out words like "haaamburrger" and "iiiiscream" (how appropriate).

Days later they were still at it, when Faith finally fell over on the bed exhausted and made the plea that she didn't want to continue. Suddenly it became all about the adoptive Mother who insisted she "sit up, NOW!"

"How hard can this be Faith, is it really torture?", she chided.

The torment escalated to the point of what seemed like watching an interrogation of the little girl about "love", comparing her to the other "daughter" back home and asking if she thought her new "Mommy" was ugly because she was white and not Chinese!?!?

The most telling part of the documentary was when the adoptive mother and Faith met her foster family for one last lunch before their trip to America. The love in that family was tremendous and it was so painful to see the gradual "letting go" and self-explanation (It IS all for the best, isn't it?) this child and family were having to force themselves to believe in order to survive their painful separation.

Weeks later, back in America, when "Faith" would act out, the adoptive mother would hold her face...taunting her with, "HOW can I help you if you won't tell me what's wrong, "Faith"? The entire movie was full of subtle and not-so-subtle double-messages, typical of adoption in our society.

As the months went by, much to every one's relief, Faith appeared to "acclimate" to her new country, home, identity, and family. The "hissy fits" came further and further apart; the darling smiles and hugs intensified. She looked and acted more and more like your "typical" American girl...fighting over toys & lovin' "Hannah Montana". Much to every one's surprise ??? she even lost most of her Chinese language.

By the end of this raw "journey", the adoptive parents (at least temporarily) got exactly what they wanted, and the adoption system intended...an Americanized "daughter" who has completely shut herself off emotionally through disenfranchised (disallowed) grief.

What choice did she have?

As everyone (it seemed) RAVED about "how FAR she had come", I sat there in disbelief, wondering how far she's gone...numb to her feelings, identity and congruent self...forced to survive in her new world, being TOLD how to feel and act. Living the adoptive role she is expected to fulfill.
The name of this documentary could just as well be "Sit up, Shut up, and Suck it Up."

It is scheduled for premiere on PBS the end of August...

*I know there are different "points of view" when people watch this and mine is just one. What I am able to express is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the thoughts and feelings I'm still mulling through the day after...
I realize the girl will have "benefits" through adoption; I realize she is considered "special-needs" because her hands and feet are "weak" and that she may not have had as many "opportunities" in China, but...really? NOW her heart may be dead to her true self...which is worse?

The way adoption is accomplished is abuse...beginning with traumatic separations...to being "coached" (either directly or indirectly through societal expectations) how to feel and act about them (hence, survive)...amended birth certificates, sealed records, and disenfranchised grief through-out an adoptee's lifetime. All this because of the fact adoption is driven by the economic principles of supply & demand. The money involved corrupts the way countries view children and provide needed support (or lack thereof) for them and their families of origin. We can never really know WHY a child is "abandoned" or becomes "available" for adoption because of the almighty dollar.

There is NO REASON ethically for our society to keep tolerating this...the first step is to open all records (reveal truth) for adult adoptees and remove ALL MONEY from the transaction...it only sets the climate for conflict of interest and corruption. Children are not commodities...adult adoptees are not perpetual children.


Von said...

It sounds horrendous but with a large measure of truth.Posting a link,hope that's ok.

Anonymous said...

Was wondering where you saw this doc in its entirety (I also featured the trailer on my website). It wasn't slated to be shown in the US till Aug. 31.

Is it available on the web?

Mei Ling said...

"When she says 'Faith', you say 'Yes'!"

The girl is nodding.

Am I missing something here? Or was the adoptive mother not in the airport yet?

Mei Ling said...

Also, the other aspects of the trailer (such as her wailing in Chinese because she's tired of English) and being "brainwashed" to accept a new name and magically fit in...

It just chills me.

Mei Ling said...

What is she saying at 0:44?

"something something I'm tired I wanna go home?"

It's too hard to hear with the background music.

And I really wish the sound had been turned on for when she says "I want to go back to China" - I think she's speaking Mandarin and I would LOVE to be able to verify that with my own ears. :(

Peach said...

I saw the film at the Dillon International Chinese Heritage Camp in Tulsa today. Stephanie Wang (the producer) was even here for a Q&A afterwards...awesome.
The new adoptive Mother was sitting very near the girl when the adoption workers were "coaching" her on how to respond and feel towards her new name, mother, and situation. It was horrid. What I wanted to add to the blog post is this: If it is true that the adoption agencies are truly in this "for the children" and it is "not a business" as was quoted today in the discussion afterwards, WHY do they continue to work with "sending countries" (supplies) who insist on running their adoption systems this way which no doubt traumatize the very children they are supposedly "saving"?

*Peach* said...

I wanted to clarify about my last comment...the adoptive mother and Faith were not at the screening. I was speaking of a scene in the film where the adoptive mother was sitting near Faith (at their first meeting...the ONLY meeting before she left with her) where the adoption workers were "coaching" Faith on how to respond to her new name, new "Mommy", etc.

Anonymous said...

Those are probably orphanage workers, not adoption workers per se. The orphanages are the centrepiece of the SWI system and adoption represents only a fraction of the work done--there are lots of kids who will remain in care, some very sick. You are right--they may not be saying sensitive things and their basic philosophy is probably if you can make it out of there (especially if you have a limb difference) you have hit the jackpot and oughta buck up and give it your all (hence the suitability of your proposed new title). It's such a complicated situation because all adoption at age 8 is going to be traumatic, yet these are the kids who will otherwise age out. The foster parent placement is also not permanent and the foster parents can return the child to care, which they have certainly been known to do. Limb differences are not well accepted in China. Other parents might have handled this situation and this child differently. I got the impression that this woman would have pushed her bio-children to the nth degree too. Judging from the descriptions you and Malinda have given about the flash cards, she seems incapable of relaxing and realizing that it was important for this child to transition in her own way and grieve for as long as she needed and not sweat the language-learning that way.
I have to comment as well that

Americanization is also an American phenomenon, and is as indicative of the norms of American culture as it is of int'l adoption. If you asked my daughter who she was today she would definitely say, "Chinese" and that's just a function of living in a different place.

Mei Ling said...

You said it took her 18 months to lose her Chinese. What happened during that process?

*Peach* said...

Well, the documentary only documented the first 18 months she was in America...and by that time she had lost almost all her language. This was seen when they would try to talk to her old foster family (bravo for the family allowing that), and she would have to have a translator to talk to them.
I heard several comments afterwards that many adoptive parents noticed their children "forgot" their language in order to learn the new one...that it might be a response of the brain to do this. Obviously, it is also a trauma response out of expectations put upon the child.

Susan said...

I saw this movie and it was utterly heartbreaking.

Mei Ling said...

Could she communicate at ALL in the beginning of the computer interactions?

Or, by the time they were set up, had she already lost most of her Chinese?

*Peach* said...

She could talk to the foster family on Skype the first time or so they did it...but the adoptive Mother commented that she was happy that Faith was asking to talk to them less frequently as the weeks went by and she considered this a sign of her "progress". The last time the documentary showed them talking on Skype, Faith needed a translator and acted as if she couldn't communicate in Chinese at all...

Mei Ling said...

The girl in the beginning of the trailer looks so different to the girl who is speaking with the Chinese woman (her foster mother? the person who is telling her to respond to "Faith").

I would have never guessed they were the same person.

Robin said...

I know I will not be able to watch this. I would be in tears before it was half over or screaming at the TV. Faith, can you say "Mommie Dearest?" Poor baby.

Immigrant Adoptee said...

First of all I'm reminded of Roots and Kunte Kinte being told his name is "Toby".

Second, although it's important to get the adoption community to start talking about these kinds of practices, especially before the adoption happens, it seems to be a continuance of exploitation and abuse of "Faith" to screen, promote, or legitimize the film. I heard from a friend that the mother and Faith appear at Q&As after screenings.

Peach said...

That thought ran through my mind about exploiting Faith through this film...
The only benefit is the fact the experience is on film to educate communities about this practice.
Faith and her adoptive Mother were not at the screening I attended...I hope she is not "encouraged" to participate in the screenings or the Q&A's...so sad.

Angelle said...

I see that this is an award winning documentary. People actually think this is ok. I doubt any of us will ever change their minds.

And I agree with Immigrant Adoptee as I immediately thought of slavery. Does no one "get" this?

The sense of entitlement of some APs is stunning in the face of their obvious selfish ignorance.

Based on an article in the New York Times this week it seems that Chinese couples are now adopting in-country and international adoptions from China are on a marked decrease. No help for poor Faith.

Allison said...

That looks horrific!
I only watched that clip, but I could not believe my ears, that amom saying she was "so glad to hear people speaking English..."

That just made my heart break.

Anonymous said...

Peaches you are projecting your issues on Faith. You have no real knowledge of what her life would have been in China, where discrimination against the disabled is very real. Where children are abandoned on the street - not placed for adoption - because there is no legal avenue for adoption. Where they live in over-crowded institutions that have extremely varying levels of funding and support. My daughter could not crawl at 13 months because she had never been out of her crib. She had a purple mark on her ankle from where she had been tied to her crib - bet that was not your reality. And this was a perfectly healthy infant GIRL.


And this is straight from your bud Malinda’s blog, http://chinaadoptiontalk.blogspot.com/2010/07/amy-eldridge-of-lwb-speaks.html
“So, for these three reasons, there are fewer and fewer healthy infant girls available for international adoption. And there has been skyrocketing abandonment of special needs children. One reason for that is the increase in children in China born with birth defects. Birth defects in China have increased 40% since 2001. It is estimated that 1 in 8 to 10 children born in China have birth defects. There are a number of theories about why the rate of birth defects is so high in China, but most believe it is environmental exposure -- after all, in a recent list of the 20 "dirtiest" cities in the world, 16 of them were Chinese cities. In one area of Shaanxi Province, where there is considerable coal production and other environmental hazards, it's reported that the birth defect rate is 85%.

Special needs children get abandoned because of the stigma associated with disabilities and/or because of medical costs. Extended family, espcially the mother-in-law, will insist that a disabled child be abandoned becasue the child is considered unlucky, a curse on the family. Children with visible disabilities will be refused education, and when they grow up will have difficulty finding a job. Medical costs can be too high for a family to bear -- there is no health insurance, no free health care in China. All health care has to be paid for up front. Even if you're in an accident, you won't be treated until your family shows up to pay the bill first. There are no emergency rooms in China. Poor families will abandon their children in the hopes that they will receive health care in the orphanage."

Reality is that kids who age out often do so with little education and no resources. The stats on kids aging out of Russia are horrifying
"In Russia and the Ukraine, studies have shown that 10% – 15% of these children commit sucide before they reach age eighteen

These studies also show that 60% of the girls become prostitutes and 70% of the boys become criminals.

Another Russian study reported that of the 15,000 orphans aging out of state-run institutions every year, 10% committed suicide, 5,000 were unemployed, 6,000 were homeless and 3,000 were in prison within three years…"

This is not justification or rescuing, this is the reality for thousands of children around the world - life on the streets, suicide, sold as sex workers, beggars..... Are they really better of in those conditions????
Yes Faith had to learn English because she was going to live in the US - a decision made by the Chinese government, who were being pragmatic about the reality that she was very unlikely to be adopted domestically. What she was unlikely to ever experince, here or in China was reunion with her birth family, since abandonment is ilegal in China.
Adoption is not always evil.

Peach said...

Thanks so much for your response. I agree that adoption is not always evil. What I do stick by, however, is that the WAY adoption is accomplished is abusive. Sealing birth records, creating falsified records (amended birth certificates) and failing to properly educate prospective adoptive parents IS evil.
The fact that money fuels the system is evil. This creates an environment with conflict of interest where the true needs of children are pushed aside due to the supply/demand principles that permeate adoption.

The Shea Family said...

Just like I said to your friend Malinda, you've missed the point to this film.
And to those that are not going to watch it because of what 1 person has said about it, get your own opinion and just remember when you are watching the film, this is just pieces of the adoption process. And also, how many of you have been adopted, have adopted and especially adopted older children or children with special needs?! And, do you know about Chinese orphanages and the children's lives if they grow up in an orphanage.
Very sad how most of you commented!

Anonymous said...

Unless a child is adopted by parents who are fluent in the same language, they will lose their native langauge, generally within 6 months if totally unsupported. The process is called subtractive bi-lingualism, and is paralled by children of immigrants being immersed in English only school classes. The fact Faith hung on to so much is a testimonial to the Sadowsky's perserverance in try to keep up her Cantonese.
Peach, I agree with you on this,
"Sealing birth records, creating falsified records (amended birth certificates) and failing to properly educate prospective adoptive parents IS evil."
And I will further agree that all adopted children, no matter what age at adoption, experience trauma, as I saw with both my daughters (China baby and toddler adoptions). That doesn't mean that adoption was not the best solution for them, since the alternatives were pretty grim, but it does mean that I have had to educate myself beyond what was offered to be supportive and prepared to help them in anyway that I can to find their identities, to be confident and secure in who they are.
I have one girl who has incredible empathy and emotional awareness. When she was only 26 months old, she instantly related her life story to that of our formerly feral cat. She has hit me with the hard questions since that time and I have had to work hard to be ready for her.
Being a parent is not an easy job bio or adoptive, and there are plenty of momments I know I would not want caught on film, so I have a great del of admiration for the Sadowskys to allow this "warts and all" ringside seat at their family table.
Jennifer W

Anonymous said...

Dear "The Shea Family" aka as an adoptive mother, not an entire family:

What is sad is your lack of grasping anything these adoptees on this post have said.

What is sad is that you have no idea how damaging adoption is.

What is sad is that you funded the adoption industry with the big bucks you paid for "your" children.

Peach said...

Dear Donna & Her Friends,
I noticed you've been posting comments on "Adoption Talk" (Malinda's blog) and wrote a comment there in response to your comments about my review of the film. I just wanted to add the comment here also. I hope you will continue to read adult adoptee blogs to understand more.
Here is the comment I left:
Dear Donna,
I obviously don't know you at all, so when I saw the film I was simply writing my own reaction to it as an adult adoptee. The lens I saw the film through was different and the comments I made were more about the way the adoption was handled and spoke more towards the lack of societal understanding and pre- and post-adoptive preparation and lack thereof given by the adoption industry. It is a tragedy for adoptees and I am so thankful for adoptive parents who are beginning to see this and become active in changing it. I feel as though adoptive parents, birth families, and adoptees are all fed wrong information about adoption by the agencies andprofessionals who make their living doing adoption...and we all suffer for it. That is where my anger lies. I'm sorry if it sounded directly towards you, because it wasn't.

The Shea Family said...

This is why I don't put my 2 cents into certain situations. It will go on and on and everybody doesn't get anywhere, still where you are and what you believe. I don't like wasting my time and energy on ignorant comments. But I had to say how sad it was that people will take what others say and let them decide something for them. That's what is sad, don't let others decide for you. See the film for yourself and decide for yourself if you agree with it or not. I did see the film and have many thoughts about it. I don't need to tell you my thoughts about it, it won't matter to you, and I don't want this to go on and on. I did grasp what the others were saying. I do know how damaging adoption 'can' be and how AMAZING it can be also. AND, I did not PAY for my children! You either have not adopted a child and don't know where the 'funds' go, or you did not understand the adoption process when you adopted.

MKBookWorks said...

I can absolutely agree that the PROCESS of adoption can be cruel, traumatic, and is often needlessly abusive. I adopted a 7 year old who still had not had his considerable cleft issues repaired and suffered almost 80% hearing loss as a result of medical neglect. Still - even with the best of intentions, he suffered needlessly.. not being told of his adoption till the MORNING of adoption in spite of our many efforts. I do speak some Mandarin.. he never did. Speaking a dialect particular to his orphanage region.. (yet, I managed to find a translator here from the same city... but that scared him) I did the best I could..

I don't and wouldn't argue that adoption is the best alternative.. it isn't.. it is just ONE way that kids who need families can have one.. and a chance at a life...

I don't dispute an adoptee's take on the whole business.. I do take issue with what seems to be misplaced or misdirected ire at a Mother.. who is doing her best. Maybe not what you would do.. or the way you would do it.. My son lingered on 4 agencies lists.. for 2.5 years because of his picture.. his gender... he age... etc. Before we decided to pursue his adoption.. should I have left him to that orphanage.. where they kept him out of school.. out of the public eye.. away from everything? I can tell you that a film made of that trip to Lanzhou would not have been any prettier.. and because of his abject grief, terror and anxiety.. he was one terrified little boy.. so not who he is today... now that he is FINALLY Learning Mandarin and has done well learning English.. can run and jump.. play soccer and is very very bright, in spite of his neglect and deprivation in China. (He ate melamine almost daily for 2 to 3 years.. and may never grow to his full height)

So, in principle I agree.. adoption should be more humane for all until the need for it is completely eliminated.. records should be open.. families who want to keep their children should be supported in their efforts.. and every other possible avenue should be explored BEFORE a child is of such an age that TRAUMA is inevitable. I agree.. but in the meantime.. the Sadowskys are loving parents to an amazing bunch of kids.. all loved and wanted very much.. and in no way is their family anything but great. In wanting to show the world that adopting one of the kids that many would overlook in favor of an infant.. or one with less severe special needs.. (Faith's needs are very serious and not at all related to limb difference) it is no picnic - but it can be done and it can work out for all. Faith is happy, healthy and maintaining her culture and heritage as much as any Chinese American child can.. more than most actually.

Please don't think that these few minutes... a tiny slice of a whole life and heart can possibly tell the whole story. We all may wish that every child was born wanted and cherished.. and that with the appropriate resources every parent who wanted to... could.. but today that simply is not the case. Adoption is a solution that unites kids with families.. who really want and are able to parent. I know that my children.. are the most amazing people I know.. and everyday - I mourn the reasons they were adopted.. but am grateful beyond all reason for the opportunity to be their Mom.

Peach said...

My blog focuses on adoption loss and reform. I don't know the answers, either, for the true orphans around the world who need our love and care. My heart breaks for them and I, too, want to help in any way possible.
I just simply think, however, that it is extremely sad that the very system that is supposed to help these children, actually fails them (as a whole) because of the economic principles that drive adoption. We never can REALLY know why orphans are abandoned, because there is so much corruption, and money being passed around in order to obtain children for adoption. It is hard to support a system that has so many fundamental flaws and unethical practices. A wonderful teacher of mine used to say "It's never right to do wrong, even in order to get a chance to do right". I think that is what adoption has become. Why can't we help the children without stripping them of their homeland, name, and connections? Wouldn't that be more charitable without requiring this of them? Why change their very name, record of birth, sealing it from them, and requiring them to meet the needs of those who help them?

Mei Ling said...

I have not seen the movie yet.

But as an adult adoptee, it does make me incredibly sad that Faith had to go through this.

Yes, children can endure. Children can survive and become accomplished through survival and endurance.

But I disagree that adoption should force them to HAVE to.

This isn't about us adoptees saying she would have been better off growing up in an orphanage - most of us with common sense will tell you NO CHILD should remain in an orphanage.

But adoption cannot be a "best" option because it is a resulting symptom from the absolute worst that could have already happened.

I'm also not saying adoption can't be necessary (and that may be where Peach & I differ in our opinions). Adoption is and can be necessary.

But it's never "the best."

Mei Ling said...

"We all may wish that every child was born wanted and cherished.. and that with the appropriate resources every parent who wanted to... could.. but today that simply is not the case."

Oh, the "not every child is born wanted" comment strikes again... yes, there are children who are born to parents who truly do not give a CRAP about them.

But can you honestly tell me this is the majority and a realistic standpoint?

Do you believe the majority of children born to parents in China are truly unwanted?

Donna said...


Thank you for responding to me on Malinda's blog. I really wish that the folks who are so brutal with their comments could've been there for much of the adoption trip and for the subsequent adjustment at home. Instead of a 76 minute window of time. I wholeheartedly agree with you that a child should be able to remain in the country of birth when possible. I cannot however agree that it is best when the child has a severe disability or is in an orphanage where there is little care, not enough food etc. As I stated before, my daughter did not just have a "weakness" it is a serious disability which even though her foot was corrected in China when she was 3, she did not receive any after care whatsoever and her club foot recurred. She required MAJOR foot surgery in Nov. 2008 and will require 2 separate hand surgeries, neither of which she would've received in China. When she came home, she could not lift her arms above her chest. Her foot was so misshapen that within a few years she would have been crippled. Can you honestly say that she would've been better off staying in China? I did not insist that Faith change her name and gave her the choice for some time after we even arrived home. Faith was always given the choice to retain her given name, which mind you, was given by a doctor who gave no thought whatsoever and gave her a name that made no sense and every time we used her chinese name in front of a chinese person, they shook their heads and said are you sure? That isn't even a name! We gave her the option of choosing a different chinese name as well. One that we would choose together with love, and that would reflect who my daughter is.

Donna said...

Faith did NOT lose all of her Mandarin. As a matter of fact, she is starting to feel more comfortable using it again among family and friends who she is comfortable with. She was afraid to use it because she had a hard time going back and forth between english, mandarin and cantonese. She simply put it aside until she mastered english. Sadly, I can't say the same for her cantonese, as we could not keep up with both. Was I upset when I saw the subtitles and saw that the Asst. Orphanage director TOLD her that her name would be Faith, you betcha! The flashcards, well lets face it. I've addressed this before. 15 minutes of going over names of food, body parts, feelings, transportation etc. was not torture and even today Faith will tell you that she just didn't want to work. She still hates to do any kind of homework, not unlike when she was in China, but was punished SEVERELY if her work wasn't up to par. I wanted her to be able to tell me if something bothered her if she was hurt, hungry, etc. If she said it in chinese, I was able to look at the card and see what she needed. I don't think it's torture, nor would I do it differently if I had to do it again. When I told her that I was being criticized for the flashcards and asked her if she would've done it different, she said, and I quote "I think I would've waited until we got home" When I explained my reasons, she said "OK, I get it". Much less issue with a child than with the adults, apparently. I wish some of the naysayers would get it too.

I do not push my children too hard, bio or otherwise. Faith grieved, I grieved for her AND with her. I maintain contact with our China family, and I say with all honesty, they are our extended FAMILY. We will host them when they come to America, and they will host us during our return trip in 3 years. (Yes, I do LOVE China and can’t wait to go back with my whole family even though I said I was happy to be home where people spoke english. Come on, can any of you who have been in a foreign country for 3 weeks honestly say you weren’t happy to be home?) I am ETERNALLY grateful for the care that they gave her. They are amazing people and I was honored to be able to spend time with them in China. I was THRILLED that my daughter ignored the orphanage director when she told her not to contact them.

Faith is also becoming much more comfortable with her own identity as a chinese american. When she was first adjusting, she wanted to be american. She didn't understand that she could be both and that she WAS both. It has been 2 1/2 years of conversation and encouragement that she understands it isn't a choice she has to make. She is proud of who she is and I am proud of her. She is a strong, happy, self assured little girl who is no longer embarrassed to wear 2 different sized shoes as she was in China.

Donna said...
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Donna said...

What really makes me angry is that there are so many of you who will judge me, say incredibly horrible things about me. Mommy Dearest? really, spend a day in my home with my children. No brainwashing, no abuse, no bullshit. I love my kids unconditionally and there is no one and I mean NO ONE that would care for them and love them better than me.

Yes, Faith and I do Q & A's after the screenings. BY HER CHOICE!!!! She saw this film before anyone else and if she didn't want the film to be screened, guess what? We wouldn't be having this forum! She asked to be part of it and I was skeptical at first. I finally gave in and she loved doing it.

Slavery, HOW DARE YOU???? Don't you even pretend to have the right to pass judgment on MY family without knowing us at all. Again, spend a day with MY family, before you make such a disgusting comment.

On that note, many of you seem to be 100% against international adoption for whatever reasons. They may be legitimate. I will never agree that my daughter would have been better as a cripple in China than a well educated, happy, healthy CHINESE american with a family that loves and adores her. Do I agree that better guidelines are in order ABSOLUTELY. Do I think that you all passed judgment without stopping for a moment to remember that there was A LOT more than those 76 minutes. I sure do. Put yourself in my shoes for a moment. Have none of you ever made parenting mistakes? Especially under stressful conditions? I am more than willing to answer any other questions you may have regarding my so called “abuse“ of my daughter, providing I'm treated with respect and not attacked. My email address is chaosx4@optonline.net

Donna Sadowsky
Who apologizes, don't know why these comments are multiplied so many times!

Donna said...

Peach, is it possible to delete the multiple posts, I've tried to figure out how to do it but can't perhaps you can? Donna

Mei Ling said...

(Yeah, I noticed the comments are being sent through multiple times on Blogspot blogs... maybe it's lagging today?)

"Come on, can any of you who have been in a foreign country for 3 weeks honestly say you weren’t happy to be home?"

I would like to remark on this, actually, and since I'm at work, I will respond more adequately when I return home.

I have been overseas for 3 months in my country of birth where I did not know the people (aside from my bio family), speak the language, or understand how to live the culture.

I was happy to come back to Canada, but part of me felt just as torn to be leaving my birth country - even though I felt double like a foreigner there.

So yes, Donna, and no. I was happy to be back but I wasn't happy to be back, if you can understand that paradox.

Donna said...

Mei-Ling, I do understand, and quite frankly, I missed China even as I was getting on the plane to come home, both times I traveled. I felt incredible loss even as I was excited and anxious to see my husband and children. I can't say enough, when you watch a documentary you're seeing snippets of a life. If it were feasible, I would live in both countries 6 months a year, and I say that in all honesty. Donna

Peach said...

Fundamental flaws in the system of adoption ~

1. Erasing a child's identity and sealing their true identity through archaic sealed record laws and amended birth certificates;
2. Money-driven supply/demand principles affect the way children are seen (as commodities) and influence the way countries provide support (or lack of) to children and their families of origin. Because of this economic emphasis, we can never really know the reason countries don't provide proper support or why parents abandon their children (even out of need). The money colors the entire need for adoption, as well as the outcome of it...
I'm so glad Faith is doing well and her feet and hands are getting stronger. Bless you all.

Donna said...


Can I ask you, what do you think the solution is? Do we stop international adoption all together and leave the children who desperately do need homes and medical care that they will never receive in their birth countries? I am NOT being combative, I really would like to hear what you have to say. As I've said, I do believe that serious reform is needed. But what does one do in the meantime?


Peach said...

I know organizations such as the Evan B. Donaldson Institute and the American Adoption Congress are excellent resources for ethical adoption reform.
I think it would be interesting if there was an immediate cease of all monetary exchange for completing adoptions, as well as the immediate opening of all birth certificates for all adult adoptees...then we could talk how to best help the true orphans in the world without conflict of interest. Then their rights and needs will be better upheld in the decision making process.

Mei Ling said...

"Do we stop international adoption all together and leave the children who desperately do need homes and medical care that they will never receive in their birth countries?"

Why won't they receive medical care in their birth countries?

Is there a stigma about medical care?

MKBookWorks said...

@Mei Ling - no, I absolutely do not believe that most or the majority of children born in China are unwanted.. frankly - I don't even believe that the majority of the world's orphaned children were unwanted at birth.. but, the fact is that some children born are not wanted... beyond that our sad state (worldwide - I am not pointing fingers specifically) of caring for the poor results in children not being able to be cared for by birth parents and all the usual reasons that parents can not care for a child still apply.

I am completely in FAVOR of open records, open adoption, open exchange of all information.. even though my own children will likely never have any of that. I agree wholeheartedly that ALL people have a right to know who they are and where they come from.

I don't know that there were many options for my children.. and believe me I do much to support the care of children in poverty around the world.. where they live.. so I do put my money where my mouth is.. I listen to adoptees.. (especially the ones in my life) and take what I have learned (and what I will continue to learn) to heart.. being informed in my parenting and cultural ties.. to provide as balanced a life as I possibly can for my children.

I don't see us as being on opposite sides.. rather just having limited information about each other.. I hope this clears at least one thing up..

MKBookWorks said...

In China (and in other parts of the world as well) being born with a disfigurement is considered bad luck, an ill omen and can bankrupt the family.. China has no health insurance.. it is pay as you go UP FRONT. Some children are abandoned because of his/her birth defect or later revealed medical condition that either carries a stigma or is expensive to correct. Cleft Lip/Palate is, relatively, inexpensive to repair.. but is considered a heavy bad omen (superstitions about facial deformity goes back thousands of years) and can cost a year's salary to repair. While there are many organizations that will provide corrective surgery free of charge.. with so many people in need.. not all will be able to have free surgery. Also.. some countries.. China and India come to mind.. are so large and populous that it is impossible for all areas to have outstanding medical care.. or for people to travel to obtain such.

For me - this is no joke. My son waited possibly 7 years to have a simple surgery to correct his cleft issues.. he never learned to speak in his original language well enough to really communicate.. he is undersized (his actual age is unknown.. since his paperwork was a mess) and may never grow the way he might have had he received care and nutrition.. and to heap injury on injury.. his defect is what lead to his abuse and neglect at the hands of those who were supposed to care for him.

There are lots of reasons why simple surgeries and more complicated surgeries do not reach the most vulnerable.

Anonymous said...

No Peach and Mei Ling I don't think the majority of children in China are unwanted. Roughly 103,000 kids have been adopted out of China since 1992, out of a general population of 1.3 billion, so that's 0.007% of the population. I think the reasons that children around the world become available for adoption are complex, can be painful for the birthfamilies, decisions or tragedies made because of economics, politics, social pressures, war, disease… and yes some of them came via directly coercive methods; in China, seizure by family planning committees, sale to baby brokers, pressure from family members, but probably NOT the majority.
The numbers of children around the world who have been sold as domestic slaves, sex workers, child brides, beggars, taken as child soldiers, cannon fodder for criminal gangs, lost parents to disease, war, substance abuse, or rejected because of their ethnicity or appearance is a vastly greater than the tiny fraction that are eventually adopted. I don’t think the “adoption industry” is the cause or even a significant factor in most of these tragedies. Several countries where there was evidence of corruption have closed to adoption; Vietnam, Guatemala, Cambodia. This is not to excuse or turn a blind eye to corruption in the adoption process, but to acknowledge that it’s not all black and white.
I am fairly certain that my oldest daughter's "crime" was her sex, and that she likely has an older sister and maybe a baby brother. My second daughter's special need was probably too expensive for her family - or maybe they had the old fashion ethic of shunning visible special needs. I can't alter the fact that they were separated from their birthfamilies, ended up in an institution and made available for IA by the Chinese government. That is their story and we don't come into it until that loss and trauma has already happened. I also can’t directly alter the social and political engines that brought about those decisions, that is the prerogative of the Chinese people.
That doesn't mean I or other AP's are sitting around rubbing our hands in glee at other's misfortunes - many of us are trying to change them. I've personally supported children and their families via Plan USA since I was just out of college and it wasn't always easy then on a waitress/shop girl salary - and I wasn't even thinking of kids let alone adoption at that point. Some of the most effective agencies operating in China are primarily funded by AP's. We support Dr's Without Borders and Smile Train. We hauled medical supplies and even a specialized CP wheel chair to China. This is not self congratulatory back patting, it’s facts. The walk is walked, not out of guilt but out of compassion.
Most of the China AP’s I know have listened to the Korea adoptees of the previous generation and are making an effort to keep their children connected with their birth culture, maybe not perfectly, but trying, and often finding we’re damned if we do and if we don’t.
part 1

Lorraine Dusky said...

Thank you for posting this...I feel besieged by friends who have adopted from China and of course I have to keep my mouth shut, and the kids seem to be fine, but...

Donna said...

Faith was found and taken to the orphanage at age 2. Although this is pure speculation on my part, I believe Faith's birth mom tried to keep her for those two year. At the time, she was horribly disabled. Her hands were turned inward and upward, her foot was severly clubbed. She would not have been able to complete the most basic tasks for caring for herself and probably couldn't walk. If Faith was not an only child, she would not have been registered, and therefore could not have received medical care even if her mom tried because technically, she didn't exist. If she was an only child, well I can tell you that with insurance, the surgery that Faith received 2 years ago and the one that is coming up next month will be several thousand dollars out of pocket. How could a family in China even come up with a portion of the fees for corrective surgery, much less the extensive therapies after the fact? Even the orphanage, who amazingly did the intial surgeries, didn't have the resources, whether financial or even being able to find a therapist to prevent the recurrance of her club foot. And I'm not patting myself on the back, but I too support several organizations designed to help children in country. I truly believe that we all have the same common goal. Let's do what's best for the children. But Peach, again I ask, if we stop the funding of all of the adoptions outright, who takes care of those who need it most?

Anonymous said...

I think some of the issue is perspective. Though we are all obsessed with adoption to a certain degree, the other 99% of the world is not. IA is a virtually unknown concept in China, one of the biggest sending countries, as Dr Chang Fu Chang has shown in his documentaries. While I do believe there are corrupt individuals and organizations that prey on misfortunes of families and children, and the want by AP's to have a family, I don't belive those misfortunes (political policies, ingrained social stigmas, lack of medical insurance or accessable medical care for anyone not just kids in care, lack of social services, extreme poverty, epidemic spread of disease, displacement by wars) are driven by the desire to produce children for adoption, that is a very small thread amid a tapestry of tragedy. Adoption as a percent of the GDP of ANY sending country is microscopic.

Ending all monetary exchange sounds like a good idea - but you still need people to ensure that potential parents are sane, healthy and at least somewhat prepared to be entrusted with children. To take care of children who cannot stay with birthfamilies for what ever reason. How do those people pay their bills? Given the state of the US Foster Care system, I sure would not want to turn it all over the government. I do believe there are good,ethical people working in the "adoption industry." The ones I know are not getting rich.
Many of us chose China because it seemed to be the best run, cleanest program out there- that was before the baby selling scandle in Henen, or revelations about family planning committees removing children.
There are many aspects of adoption; domestic closed or open private, domestic foster care, international private (identified), international referred adoption (child is matched with family by government or agency), special needs adoptions- and they each have their own twists, and like life, there is no one-size fits all solution.
Jennifer W

*Peach* said...

I agree with your comments about the plight of orphans and the fact that it takes money to care for them around the world. When adoption is made ethical by removing the monetary exchange, I think it would actually free up more money to care for true orphans and help countries address internal issues through more unclouded and ethical avenues, without nearly as much conflict of interest. This would only benefit true orphan care.

bbsandiego said...

Thank you for posting this honest review of this film. I was looking forward to watching this film, maybe even sharing it with my two 7 year old daughters from China (one who is "special needs" - just don't tell her - LOL!) Now I'm not sure I can stomach sitting through it.

It appears to me just from the trailer (which I watched before reading your review) that this is another entitled American family who think they know what is best for everyone else. The idea that this child should be made to answer to her new name immediately is gut wrenching. We called our daughters by their Chinese names for a long time (and sometimes still do, as we kept these names as their legal middle names), and our girls were both babies at adoption.

There is no perfect adoption. I've learned this over the last seven years. I love my daughters without reservation, but I am heartbroken at the anguish and pain I see, especially in my oldest (adopted at 8 months). The loss of her birth family weighs heavily on her, and each year around the date of her adoption, she becomes angry and sad, unable to "control my brain" (her words). She wails for long periods and I can only hold her to comfort her. She tells me she loves her sisters and my husband and me, but I know she is haunted by all that she is missing.

If I could find her birth mother and reunite them, I would do it in a heartbeat. I love her that much.

Adoption (when necessary) should be about findings homes for children, not children for people who can afford to pay for them. Yes, we paid fees to adopt our daughters, but I would like to see the financial component taken out of adoption altogether for the sake of the children and because of the corruption it breeds.

Thank goodness more in-country Chinese are adopting abandoned babies and keeping them in China.

My heart goes out to Faith for all the sorrow she has had to swallow. I hope her "parents" are wealthy. They'll need the cash for an army of psychiatrists when she's a teenager.

Anonymous said...

I am an adoptive mother of children born in the US to a drug addict and have adopted a Chinese daughter. I also have a biological son. All I can promise my children is a lifetime of love and support. I will do anything in my power to help them succeed in their dreams. I wish people could stop judging and just do something to make life better for anyone or anything.

*Peach* said...

We should never stop "judging ourselves" when it comes to making adoption more ethical in the process, policies, and procedures. I'm so thankful for adoptive parents, first parents, and adoptees who are speaking on these subjects.
Adoption won't be truly ethical until all money is removed from the transaction and records are not sealed from the adult adoptee. Period. Until that happens, there is a ripe environment world-wide for conflict of interest, which only hurts those who have the best interests of children and families at heart.

Jennifer said...

bbsandiego you should climb down off your high horse of perfection, and READ the comments that have already been made, especially by Donna. How good would any of your adoptions have looked on film?????
Jennifer W

Anonymous said...

I watched the program last night. I was left with sad feelings. Coming from an international background, my heart ached in seeing the 'Americanization' of this young girl. In addition to seeing classical 'parent alienation' techniques used by Donna with the girl's relations in China. She'll blow a fuse reading this, but too bad. She's intense, loud, rough, unless everything goes her way. Sure she has moments of kindness but they're short lived. Faith lost her core language in less than 2 yrs, that was horrific to watch. Donna says they're still focusing on this. My opinion, she couldn't handle not being in 'control' with Faith saying things she couldn't understand thus the language came to an end. She also demonstrated jealousy when Asians spoke in Chinese with Faith, as there is a true cultural bond there and it was obvious to see her distaste in it. The family acted like they had brought home a new puppy. I loved hearing Faith say in Chinese, "You are annoying". Faith, yes I understand you have a new home and family now but may you seek out your heritage when you are older. My hope is your language at such a young age is not fully lost.

texas mom said...

To all, i too grieve for this little girl and how she was treated. As an adoptive mother whose daughter was in foster care, it is soooooo difficult to feel like this is the right thing. My daughter was almost two and would not have had the medical care she received here in the u.s.- but she might have been happy. We thought she may have been treated badly, as she was a street fighter, but that could have been the trauma response for leaving her adoptive family. unfortunately, retraining the orphanages to help the foster parents process with the children, rather than just jerking the child out of their situation, has not worked. The adoptive parents send photos of their family and pets, house and yard, so the children can get some idea of where they are going. Sometimes you can tell the children have been shown the booklets we send, my daughters was quite dirty when we got it back, so she probably saw it. But how do you explain to a two year old that she is leaving all that she knows for a new existence of strange everything. It caused all of us pain, and sho knows how she processed it.. We hope to contact the foster family, but the orphanage, wouldn't let us call them directly. So many efforts, and so little success. my youngest is 8 now, but still has traumatic issues we deal with. She doean't want anything Chinese around and doean't want to go visit. It's tragedy and we hope to make it right somehow, someday.

Texas mom.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for the opportunity for me to make the 58th comment on this post. In am the mother of a daughter who was adopted at age 10, and was ripped from her birth county and family and from everything familiar to her. And very sadly what I've learned is some of the brainwashing begins back at the orphanage. It was as if my newly adopted daughter had already been programmed to think and say some of the things I read in your post and observed in the film clip.

And we did everything within our power to allow her the opportunity and grace to be who she was, feel her feelings, and everything did not turn out to be ok, not then and not now. Chills me to the bone to begin to understand (and today is my first day of starting to "get it") that if I'd known then what I know now about that the brainwashing begins prior to adoption - maybe we would have been able to walk another path. Alas.

Anonymous said...

Lets not forget that this child could not stay with her foster family in China. Orphans are only allowed to go into foster care if they are "adoptable".

She was ultimately going to have to leave them. I pay for the foster care of a little girl in China and I get regular reports about her and I'll continue to pay for her foster care for as long as it takes for a family to find her but I pray it happens sooner rather than later. The older the kids are, the harder the transition must be for them.

Jodi said...

You go Donna!!!! You and your entire family are amazing! Thank you for letting me know that that there is someone else out there that had gone through what we did too!

Diane said...

InWritingMotherhood- -Big hugs Terra. I am so deeply sorry. Sometimes the things that our children are told (in the orphanage/foster home) are said with the best of intentions.

I know when I was adopting my youngest daughter from China our guide became very irritated by her crying/grieving. Our guide told my daughter that if she didn’t stop screaming that I would never take her back to see her foster family. I was terribly taken aback when I asked him what he was saying to her.

When I adopted my oldest daughter I later found out that she was told that if she didn’t behave well that we would send her back to the orphanage in China. She was told this by her foster mother. My daughter did everything she could to test this theory. In addition it has caused her recurring nightmares that she is alone in China with no family to turn to.

Some things are said to our children to ‘help’ them but have lifelong ramifications. As if the loss inherent in adoption isn’t enough to navigate.

Peach- Thank you for your perspective as an adoptee viewing this film.

billyandme said...

I'm sure APs have the best of intentions when they adopt. But I feel like we saw 'Faith' exhibit the stages of grief, eventually accepting her fate, as she could do nothing about it. I don't mean this to sound judgmental toward the APs here, but this child may have experienced her adoption as kidnapping. Her eventual adaptation and acceptance of her role in the family, having essentially been forced on her, could be just a way for her to cope, by learning to 'love' her family.

Mrs. Sadowsky said in the film that she didn't adopt to save a life, but rather to add to her family. Mr. Sadowsky said he chose China because it was a cool place. Whey then does Mrs. Sadowsky discuss the plight of the abandoned children in China? This was, by her own admission, not the reason for this adoption.

We Americans need to get over our savior complex. People suffer everywhere, not only in nations that regularly export 'unwanted' or 'special needs' children for profit, or to get them off their hands. People from all walks of life suffer. Adults, the elderly, children with both parents at home, etc. etc. Why are people doing more for them? Why do people only advocate helping when they profit in the form of a child?

There are lots of ways to help. Sponsoring a child is a great way to do that. The child stays put, gets food, medicine, and education, and hopefully stays with actual family. It is an affordable way for most American families to help. The updates allow people to know where their money is going, to make sure it is being used properly.

Plus, I've seen many shows about doctors performing surgery on the faces of children from all over the world who are still living with their natural families. These families love their children, and have not abandoned them.

I'd also point out that the disabled are routinely degraded and discriminated against here, even where it is illegal.

Anonymous said...

I have two daughters adopted from China. One is five years old, the other is four. Both girls were abandoned on the streets when they were only days old. I don't understand the comments about "sealed records." There are no records of parents of abandoned children. If you abandon a child in China, you go to jail, so no one would ever come forward to claim that they abandoned a child. As far as comments on money. China does not now or ever care what you think about what they do with their abandoned children. As far as they are concerned---there are no abandoned children. To admit this would be to lose face. Very few Chinese people living in China are even aware of the fact that these children are adopted out of country. China will decide when and if they shut down their international adoption program. All of this ---help the children in their own country so they can stay there---is crap; again, China doesn't care what you think of what they do. This is China, not the United States. The people who were responsible for the tainted milk in China a few years back, were arrested, and then killed. If you don't like it -------they don't care. They don't have to care. We have returned to China several times after coming home with both of our girls, and with my husbands work, have spent six months living in Shanghai. While both of my girls like to visit, they can't wait to come home. They have seen how the people in China live, and the way people in the United States live. They have seen lepers begging in the streets of Changsha, they have even seen dead bodies lying in the roads of Guangzhou; small children begging in the streets of Nanning. My five year old in Xian gave a woman and a small child 10 yuan. The woman knelt down in the middle of the street and hugged her and kissed her hands crying, and then went to buy her child some food. Bottom line is China provides the minimum care they need to for their orphans. Foster care is provided mainly by people living in other countries. At fourteen years old, you can no longer be put up for international adoption. Generally if you can not find a job working in the orphanage, you are thrown out in the streets. Life in the streets in China is worse than any life here in the United States. They could only dream of being poor in the United States. I really think that people need to travel more before they make comments that work in their small world. Watching shows on television about doctors working on children for free( which by the way it isn't---we support the Smile Train Project $1,000.00 a year) as opposed to actually having gone to some of these places and worked with these children will open up brand new worlds. This child "Faith" if left in China would NEVER find her family. They would never come forth to claim her and at fourteen she would have been committed to a home for the rest of her life or thrown out of her orphanage or foster home. All of these liberal social justice comments don't fly in China because--------They don't care!!!! They're all "lovely" unrealistic ideas that are held by many people in China's prisons. "Ethical" ---????? The only thing that carries any weight in China is money. When adoption is no longer associated with money in China, there will be no more children to adopt out. Why can't you help them without removing them from their home---because you can't. That's life and it's tough. Every one has their own story. This is theirs. Make the best of your situation and try to help the people you meet along the way. Instead of making broad generalizations and comments about solving all the worlds problems work you own little corner of the world. If we all do this the world might become a better place. Coming off my soap box now.

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