Friday, April 04, 2003

Adoption on film

I finally caught up with the movie Lovely & Amazing the other day on cable. I'd been curious about it because one of its several subplots involved adoption, and of course the question then always becomes: Is it good for adoption, or bad for adoption? As I posted on Adoption Watch back when the movie first appeared on my radar screen, the characters include an African American 8-year-old who has been adopted by a white woman with two grown daughters. And since the relationship between the mother and daughter is portrayed as warm and loving; and the relationship between the older biological sisters and their adoptive little sis generally tolerant and caring, at least as much as it would be between any self-absorbed women and a much younger sibling; and the child not oversentimentalized, overly wise or tough, I'd have to say it was good for adoption. For the image of females as something other than neurotics obsessed with appearances, not so much.

One thing that particularly caught my attention about the adoption storyline was how the girl -- while certainly shown to have her own mind and her own take on things, including the quirks of her elders -- starts to take on some of those quirks herself, in her own style. This is something I watch for in my own kids, with some trepidation; are my own personal fears and neuroses, many of which I inherited from my own mom, a matter of nature or nurture? and will I find a way, in spite of myself, to inflict them on a generation not genetically linked? or will they be different -- "in a good way," as one big sister says to the youngster -- due to their different biological makeup? At the end of the film, when the girl prepares to welcome her adoptive mom home from the hospital by fussing over the elaborate arrangement of pillows the older woman had somewhat obsessively arranged on her bed, it's hard to know whether to feel heartwarmed that the child is so intent on doing something to make her mother happy, or chilled that she's taken on the family trait of preoccupation with silly little things like pillows. I was secretly rooting for her to just throw the darn things on the floor.

In other adoption-related movie news, Daughter from Danang, an Academy Award-nominated documentary about a Vietnamese adoptee reuniting with her birth family, will be shown on PBS Monday at 9 p.m. Is it good for adoption or bad for adoption? Watch and report.

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