Somewhere Between (2011)
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Before this I saw a documentary, "National Geographic: China's Lost Girls" which I think is a great film to start with for understanding the situation, before you become so involved in these personal stories.
I don't believe only a certain type of person can enjoy this film, but I can see how it would help. I personally prefer dramatic social documentaries instead of fictional dramas, because I feel like I am really getting to know someone and what they have been through. When I cry, I am not crying because of a plausible emotional situation, but I am crying tears for another person.
This film is incredibly moving. You hear what it is like to be an American, raised by white parents as a Chinese born girl. You get to hear some of their tales of facing racism, and feeling like an outsider, as well as how glad they are to have the loving family and opportunities they have as middle class adopted Americans.
You get to see one disabled girl get an opportunity to be adopted, as well as the filmmaker's video of when they adopted their daughter. You can see how terrifying it is to be a Chinese girl handed over to white parents, while at the same time seeing how much love these parents have for their new little girls.
One girl wished to find her birth family, and was lucky enough to do so. It is an extremely moving situation when you get a glimpse of how much her birth family truly loves her.
This film raises questions that all adopted people have to ask themselves, about whether they want to learn their heritage and what that means to them. Certainly, everyone has to choose their own path and what is important to them in life.
This film encapsulates what it is to be an American to me. It doesn't matter what you look like, or your language or where you were born. It matters that either you or your family or whomever made a choice for you to be a part of a culture that has no rules or boundaries. Where we embrace our similarities and differences as people of this world. It's truly a beautiful idea, this nation, where we can come together and see where we came from and know wherever we go, we take this journey together.
"Somewhere Between" was a documentary that we had to watch. It traces the journey of several now teenaged girls born in China but adopted by Americans and raised in the United States. For us, there are some tug at your heart strings moments - especially the shot of the "adoption room" in Changsha, Hunan, where we first held our little girl. The girls whose stories are being told are remarkably eloquent about their experience and about the challenge of being in some ways torn between two worlds - with Chinese skin but American culture. They respond in different ways to this, and it's interesting to watch. The film stresses the importance of having connections with other Chinese adoptees,and pulls no punches about the presence of racism (even sometimes benign racism) in society.
Most interesting is the story of Haley, who returns to China with her adoptive parents and - defying the odds - manages to track down her birth family. The reunion was touching, but it left me with a lot of questions, especially wondering where the relationship goes from there? It was fascinating that, in her case at least, her father wanted to keep her and it was her mother who actually abandoned her. That's the reverse of what my perception of the situation is. In the midst of the film there are questions raised about whether international adoption should be allowed. I have no answer for that; I'm simply grateful to have my daughter.
This is what I would describe as a "niche" film. It has a definite audience - the Chinese adoption community, if I can refer to myself and others who have adopted from or who have been adopted from China, and their friends/family. Outside that community, this might be of limited appeal. (8/10)
By the way, if you do see the film, you be left wondering a few things, such as how is the girl with cerebral palsy doing today as well as how did the one family have four kids when the government ordered that you could only have one. Thought-provoking, that's for sure.
Just what should China mean to them? Is it the tiny but tantalizing possibility of finding a birth parent, with the surprises that might bring--a story that has been told many times? Is it the sense of a place where they visibly fit in? Is it the need to share their feelings with other kids like themselves? And what of the lingering feeling that, before they were adopted, they were rejected? You will experience all these things alongside these young women, as they travel to Europe and China, grow, and open up like flowers. Is it enough to feel Chinese, or must she feel like a Dai (minority) person because she looks like one? Where does that lead her? What does it feel like to be in the stark orphanage that she dimly recalls? And what does she feel when she sees a bright little girl like she was, but trapped in a box in that orphanage because of a disability that could be treated?
I agree with Los Angeles Times reviewer Kenneth Turan, whose professional review I commend to you, that only a stone would not be moved by this film.