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.
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.