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somewhere between
Last night I watched the documentary Somewhere Between. The director, Linda Goldstein Knowlton, went to explore the lives of four teenagers, all of them adopted from China as babies or young children. She wanted to find the answers to future questions her own baby daughter also adopted from China would probably have as years go by.
The film had mainly good reviews, but I guess most of them don’t come from people familiar with the challenges of adoption.
My problem with this documentary is that it only shows a very narrow view of international adoption and of adopted kids. For starters, all the girls showcased seem to had no mayor problems of attachment, they belong to the American upper-middle class, are well adjusted, smart, and successful. The film barely touches the subject of racism, identity, and corruption in international adoption, painting only a rosy picture. It makes you feel like running to adopt a baby from China.
The adopted girls are only teenagers, so it’s hard to tell if their opinion and experience of being adopted transracially will change in the future. Maybe if the portrayed adoptees were adults the stories would be completely different.
What about children with attachment problems? Or parents discovering that the information regarding their child has been totally falsified and that trafficking is suspected?
And I’m not talking of something rare, but quite the contrary, a very common occurrence in international adoption.
It looks to me as if the director wanted to make a film to calm her conscience, to reassure herself she did the right thing, handpicking her subjects and not going too deep into the real picture.
Parents of adopted children know that adoption is no easy, not so clear. It’s a painful journey and more than once we don’t feel so sure that we have done the right thing. The dark side of adoption comes over time, after bringing a child home.
If I were to make a film about this subject, I couldn’t left that dark side out. I wouldn’t want to give future adoptive parents the wrong impression of what they are getting into.
I love my adoptive children, but I love them as they are, with all their real problems, traumas that will probably never go away and that they, and myself, need to acknowledge.
We need to stop stereotyping adoption and orphans. In fact orphans are really rare in this world. The main cause of children ending up in orphanages is poverty and unfortunately the high demand for children in the developed world.

Somewhere Between in available on DVD, and is currently streaming on Amazon and Netflix in the US.