Posts Tagged ‘PBS POV series’

“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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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.

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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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