Posts Tagged ‘Deann Borshay Liem’

Another reason to love Hugh Jackman

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

… is that he’s married to Deborra-Lee Furness, the woman the Australian Melbourne Weekly describes as “film actress and fierce adoption campaigner.”  Deborra-Lee Furness and Hugh Jackman are adoptive parents to two children born in the United States–Oscar, age 10; and Ava, age 5. In November 2010, Furness organized a summit in New York, Forgotten Children: International Adoption and the Orphan Crisis, featuring leaders in the field such as Dr. Jane Aronson, Ethiopian pediatrician Dr. Sophie Mengistu, and filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem (In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee).

In this profile, titled Deborra-Lee Furness: Leading the Charge, the Melbourne Weekly writes:

Actress Deborra-Lee Furness is leading the charge to change Australia’s ‘‘anti-adoption culture.’’ … She’s only been in Melbourne for a few days and an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report into local adoption rates was released this morning… While the disturbing statistics such as a 21-fold decrease in adoptions in Australia since the early 1970s are nothing new for the long-time campaigner, Furness is still furious about the personal stories of excruciating red tape and bureaucratic decisions.


After miscarriages and failed IVF attempts, Furness and Jackman adopted two children in the U.S. Furness says the kids are just sensational. “They are well travelled. Oscar is very artistic and Ava wants to be a rock star – so at least they are in the arts, which is good!”


While Furness is happy to speak candidly albeit briefly about her own brood, it’s the issue of other adopted children that really fires her up. Having founded Adoption Awareness Week in Australia in 2008, Furness recently hosted an adoption summit in New York where she pulled together the “rock stars of the field.” Together with editor of the Daily Beast news website Tina Brown, Furness invited representatives from UNICEF, Harvard, Worldwide Orphans Foundation and politicians to talk about the orphan crisis.

Furness insists that she is not pro-adoption (“I wish every child could stay with their family, but that’s not the world that we live in”), but she gets extremely frustrated with Australia’s “anti-adoption culture” which makes inter-country adoption near impossible. Of the 40,000 inter-country adoptions worldwide in 2009, only 270 were Australian. A four- to seven-year wait is the minimum for most local couples, with many having to wait up to 10 years. Most invest a huge amount of money and emotion and for some, the process takes so long that they miss out completely.

“This is a huge, huge crisis and these kids aren’t part of it,” Furness says. “They aren’t voters, there is no agenda for the politicians but I do think you judge a country by the way they treat their children and it is embarrassing. I am out there on the international stage and we are the lowest in the world as far as inter-country adoption…  I have been talking to the attorney-general and trying to speed it up, but it needs leadership – people who understand the situation and how complex it is.”

Finally, the article concludes:

Like all working mums, Furness admits it is difficult to juggle her campaigning, acting career and family, but says it’s the injustice of the adoption situation that keeps her going.

Long may she wave.


“In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee” impressions

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Last night I watched a third documentary on PBS told from the point of view of an adoptee. In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is different from the two previous offerings—Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy and Off and Running—because the subject of the film, Deann Borshay Liem, is also the filmmaker. In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is Liem’s second documentary about adoption, building on themes introduced in her first film, First Person Plural.

I don’t know if it’s possible for me to watch any documentary about adoption without feeling great sorrow. In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is no different. For me, there is no adoption story that doesn’t contain, at its center, a profound sense of loss. (I wrote my book, Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir,  to help me process the overwhelming emotions I felt about adopting my own daughter.) Although I’m writing this piece the day after watching In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, I still feel sad and depressed.

That said, as an adoptive parent, I have learned so much from hearing the stories of children and adults were adopted. My sincere hope is that my generation of adoptive parents continues to learn from the experiences of the first wave of parents and children, who share their stories with eloquence and candor.

Deann Borshay Liem grew up as Kang Ok Jin in an orphanage in Korea, placed there by her mother, a widow who struggled to support her five children. In the same orphanage was another little girl, Cha Jung Hee, who was receiving monthly letters from her American sponsors, the Borshays. Days before the Borshays requested to adopt Cha Jung Hee, the girl was taken from the orphanage by her father and not returned. Rather than disappoint the Borshays, the orphanage directors substituted eight-year-old Kang Ok Jin, by pasting her photo onto the passport of Cha Jung Hee, and sending her instead. The orphange staff warned Kang Ok Jin, soon to become Deann Borshay, not to reveal her true identity. (more…)


Third PBS documentary about adoption, “In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee”

Monday, September 13th, 2010

PBS’s award-winning non-fiction showcase, Point of View, will broadcast a third documentary about adoption, tomorrow, Tuesday, September 14 at 10 p.m. Titled In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, the film was directed by Deann Borshay Liem, born in Korea and adopted by an American family. Please note: some PBS affiliates are screening the show at a later date. Check your local listings for air time by clicking on this link and typing in your zip code.

Here’s the PBS synopsis: 

“Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for a Korean adoptee who came to the United States in 1966. Told to keep her true identity secret from her new American family, the 8-year-old girl quickly forgot she had ever been anyone else. But why had her identity been switched? And who was the real Cha Jung Hee? In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is the search to find the answers, as acclaimed filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem (First Person Plural, POV 2000) returns to her native Korea to find her “double,” the mysterious girl whose place she took in America. A co-production of ITVS in association with the Center for Asian American Media and American Documentary/POV.”

As always, I welcome your comments and impressions.