Westmont students form panel for adoption film
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Founders dining room was occupied with a film screening and student panel for Westmont’s Intercultural Programs last Thursday night. The documentary, Somewhere Between, followed the lives of Chinese orphans who were adopted by American families.
Four girls were the main focus of the documentary, although they lived on different sides of the country. One lived in California, one in Massachusetts, one in Pennsylvania, and one in Tennessee. One mother-to-be learned Mandarin in order to communicate with her daughter, while another was so impacted upon picking up her daughter at the Chinese orphanage that she dedicated the next fifteen years of her life to returning to China and giving generously to the orphanages. That mother gave full credit to her daughter for the improvement of the lives of hundreds of orphaned Chinese children.
The four girls each found a different way to connect with their wider, predominantly white communities. One girl rowed, one played piano, and another played violin. Because the girls’ outward appearance didn’t match up with their cultural context, they felt as though they were living a double-life, but they didn’t let that stop them from pursuing their dreams.
Gratefulness was a resounding theme in the movie. All the adoptees were extremely thankful to their parents for adopting them and the opportunity to grow up in America. At the same time, there were several difficult conversations that dealt with the realities of abandonment.
One of the girls in the documentary, Haley, passionately desired to find her biological parents. The second half of the plot revolved around Haley searching for and eventually finding her birth mother and father. After a DNA check with the father proved blood relation, Haley waited patiently in a room to meet her birth mother. The entire Founder’s room fell silent as Haley’s birth mom walked onto the screen and embraced Haley. Emotions ran high in the film and the reunion was very tear-filled and sweet. Haley’s family welcomed her and her American parents in for a grand meal and celebration, complete with fireworks.
After hearing the story of why she was abandoned from her birth parents, Haley felt at peace, despite the pain from old wounds. “There’s a reason I’m here,” she stated, and she knew she wanted to make a difference. “I know I can’t change a whole country, but I’d like to.” One of the other girls in the documentary (Haley’s friend, Ann) decided after hearing Haley’s story that she also wanted to find her birth parents. Though she knew it was unlikely to end as happily as Haley’s story, she was willing to try.
Following the film, there was a student panel of four Chinese Westmont students who were adopted: Julianna Carl, Laura Coors, Sam Gee, and Lydia Grenko. These four women talked about their experiences discovering racial differences in their own lives, and the impact that adoption has had upon their individual lives. Given the messages in the documentary that encouraged adoption and hearing from Westmont’s own adopted students, ICP hopes that the conversation on multi-ethnic families will flourish, leading to more inter-racial homes.