Posts Tagged ‘Off and Running documentary’

“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…)

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Thoughts on “Off and Running”

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Off and Running, directed by Nicole Opper and broadcast last night on PBS, tells the story of an African-American teenager, Avery, who was adopted as a baby by a white lesbian couple, Travis and Tova. Avery’s brothers, Rafi (older) and Zay-Zay (younger), were also adopted. (Read the PBS synopsis in the post below.)

The film illustrates a theme familiar to transracial families, adoptive or not: the question of racial identity; that is, the child’s sense of belonging to a community. Avery struggled with this issue throughout the film, as do many transracial families.

 But it seems to me that the film’s more pressing and central theme–”Who am I?”– is unique to adoptive families. Not ”Who am I?” as a member of a community, but “Who am I?” as an individual. You can’t know who you are unless you know where you came from. It’s the question my children asked almost as soon as they could speak. “ Did I come out of your tummy? Why not? Whose tummy did I come from?” And then, as they got older: “Why did she give me up?”  (more…)

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Another PBS documentary about adoption, “Off and Running”

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

PBS’s award-winning non-fiction showcase, Point of View, will broadcast another documentary about adoption, tonight, Tuesday, September 7 at 10 p.m. Titled Off and Running, the film was directed by Nicole Opper. 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.( http://www.pbs.org/pov/tvschedule/)

How exciting and wonderful that the subject of adoption is receiving so much attention on public television! I’m glad I support my local affiliate, KQED, with a membership. 

Here’s the PBS synopsis:

Off and Running tells the story of Brooklyn teenager Avery, a track star with a bright future. She is the adopted African-American child of white Jewish lesbians. Her older brother is black and Puerto Rican and her younger brother is Korean. Though it may not look typical, Avery’s household is like most American homes — until Avery writes to her birth mother and the response throws her into crisis. She struggles over her “true” identity, the circumstances of her adoption and her estrangement from black culture. Just when it seems as if her life is unraveling, Avery decides to pick up the pieces and make sense of her identity, with inspiring results.”  (more…)

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