Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy impressions

I wish everyone could see Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy because it gives some small insight into the losses endured by so many children who are adopted. Not only kids adopted internationally, but any child who has spent time in foster care or an orphanage, or anywhere they may have formed attachments. (Not to mention the loss of birth family and culture.) That said, the film also shows the gains made: a loving family, and a sense of permanent belonging. 

Watching the movie, I developed a real affection for the little girl who is the film’s subject, Fang Sui Yong, now named Faith Sadowsky. I admire her strength, her intelligence, her resolve, her adaptability, her honesty, her humor, her sweetness.

I also became very fond of the Sadowsky family, who adopted Faith. From Donna and her husband, who are trying hard to do their best; to the two sweethearts of older brothers who obviously care so much about their sisters; to little Darah, also born in China and adopted into the family. The love the Sadowskys feel for one another is palpable.  Faith is part of that, no question.

I like the way the filmmaker, Stephanie Wang-Breal, begins with Donna Sadowsky and her father going to China to pick up Faith. My guess is that unless you’re an adoptive parent, you don’t know what the “pick-up trip” looks like. The footage gives viewers a good idea. I had read about the scene where Donna is reviewing English flashcards with Faith; some viewers found Donna’s behavior unnecessarily harsh. All I can say is that I, too, have spent hours and days in distant hotel rooms during our adoption processes, and let me tell you, it can be tough. Those moments may not have shown Donna in the best light, but to me, they felt real. Donna and Faith are flesh-and-blood people, and they are struggling. 

The middle of the film shows domestic scenes both happy and sad: Faith dancing at her big brother’s bar mitzvah, contrasted with her losing her facility with Chinese language and thus her connection to her foster family. Faith learning to swim, juxtaposed with her wanting to go home to China.  To me as an adoptive mother, those episodes felt true and revealing. In our house, too, life never feels simple. 

The film ends with Faith shown to be a happy, incredibly well-adjusted girl. Wang-Breal chooses to show her as a complete “American”—driving toward the camera with her sister in a pink convertible, both wearing movie-star sunglasses. Like most children who grow up in a new country—not only kids who are adopted—Faith has absorbed her new culture to such a degree that she is transformed. Is that good or bad? Wang-Breal leaves that to us to decide.  

I think because so many of our children who came to us through adoption adapt so well to their new lives, the world (and we) sometimes forget the long, bumpy road many of them traveled to get here. Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy serves as an excellent reminder.

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