Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Adoption Onscreen: October Baby

It's amazing how adoption alters the lenses through which one views life. Recently I've had the opportunity to watch a couple of movies and attend a musical, each of which had an adoption theme. No longer can doing so be simply an enjoyable pastime for me; instead, I find myself evaluating and picking apart the feelings and nuances of the words that are spoken and mentally putting myself and my children into the shoes of the protagonists. Really, it's all rather exhausting - but it may be healthy, too.

Perhaps the irony is that no matter how much time I spend reviewing the story from my perspective, I will never fully understand what the exact same story might mean to another member of the adoption "triad." However, I really do want to try. In light of that, and since it is National Adoption Month, I thought it appropriate to share a blog post or two on the subject.

The first movie I watched, October Baby, is a film dedicated to the affirmation that "every life is beautiful" and it is inspired by the biography of Gianna Jessen. I have listened to Gianna's personal story as a survivor of a failed saline abortion attempt, as an adoptee, and as a young woman living with cerebral palsy. Her testimony is very powerful, and her joy in Christ is contagious.

It was very interesting that just a week after I watched this film with my husband, an extended family member who was herself adopted as a child also viewed it. We exchanged thoughts, and our reactions were quite different! As an adoptive mom (and maybe this sounds a little silly) I guess it hurt my feelings how often the "you're not my 'real' parents" was thrown around. I understood it, because this was a story where tragically the mistake was made of adoption being kept a secret. But I wished that in addition to highlighting how wrong and emotionally devastating that truly is, there could have been a little more balance on the adoption angle.

However, I loved what this family member - a beautiful and brave young woman - had to say in response to the film. With her permission, I quote her comments:
The word that stuck with me throughout the movie was "healing" all I could think was that this movie was a beautiful picture of God's ability to heal and His care in the smallest detail of our lives ... There were so many feelings throughout this movie for me. A lot of Hannah's feelings are exact feelings that I have had within my own story ... I feel that the directors and story line did an extremely impressive job of creating a story in which you were able to understand each person's situation and thus created an even bigger impact when we realize how absolutely incredible our God is and for me that was the main message coming across.
Do you see how much richer her response was to the film? The lenses through which she viewed it as an adoptee - one who herself had experienced damaging secrecy - made it so much more meaningful to her. And by reading her response, the film became more meaningful to me.

That is why an open heart and an open mind, along with a willingness to truly enter into each other's stories is so important. We have much to learn from one another, and much to give to one another, in this lifelong journey that is adoption.

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