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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

October Baby and Adoption

A couple weeks ago I saw the movie "October Baby" which is about a young woman, Hannah 19, who survived an abortion and her struggle with her identity.  Her adoptive parents have kept her adoption from her until a medical situation forces them to disclose her adoption.  "We aren't your birth parents," her father states.  She then proceeds to search out her birth parents and discovers she survived an abortion.

I've been thinking a lot about the movie the past few weeks and find myself frustrated.  Such an amazing opportunity to inform people about adoption in a positive way isn't exactly lost, but wasn't exactly capitalized on either.  During her search she encounters a police officer who asks her what she will do if she finds her mother i.e. not birthmother.  Hannah refers to her birth mom as her "real mom".  Hannah's boyfriend tells her dad, "she's not your daughter".

None of our children were survivors of an abortion, but many have had very difficult beginnings.  All of our children grew up knowing they were adopted.  We can not tell all of them that their birth parents made the best choice for them because they loved them so much as many adoptive parents are able to.   How and when we relay that information is still to be determined, but at some point what we know is theirs to know as well.  We don't deal in deception in this family.

We have had the difficult job of informing one of our adult children that they were the result of a rape. We struggled with how to tell her and whether it was the best thing to tell her, but we also knew it was her truth and she deserved to know it.  We also felt an obligation to her birth mother to honor her by telling the story so her birth daughter would understand the sacrifice she made to give our daughter life.

Not all adoptive families will react as I did and I'm sure many people will feel the overall message is  most important.  I think the fact that adoption is shown in such a negative light over and over again in the movies, especially ones made for children - Tangled and Despicable Me most recently - creates my sensitivity to cinematic adoption messages.

Believe me, I'm not overly sensitive to people's ignorance when referring to adoption, but in a movie which is celebrating life and since adoption is commonly suggested as a alternative to abortion, I expected the filmmakers to reflect adoption in a positive way.  Creating adoptive parents who have deceived their daughter her whole life by withholding such basic information is counterintuitive in promoting adoption.

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