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I went to this film with very modest expectations. Having seen the trailer I suspected the film would be a bit sappy (i.e., saccharine) and therefore not my cup of tea. What a surprise! It was a penetrating, unsentimental look at the effect of adoptions across racial lines. The 4 adoptees, young women who are quite different from each other, were incredibly articulate- -I was quite stunned by their ability to express such adult thoughts with huge clarity. Unlike another reviewer here, I do not consider this a niche film in any way. I am not a mother, and while I do try to stay informed about our (shrinking) world, I have no personal involvement in issues of adoption, racial diversity, etc. To say that this film is moving is truly an understatement. I could hear the sniffles throughout the audience. It is a huge tribute to Linda Goldstein Knowlton that without any obvious efforts to tug on our heartstrings, she has put together a film that is searing, beautiful and I hope destined to become a must-see for anyone contemplating an inter-racial or inter-cultural adoption. I so look forward to her next venture and wish her the very best with her own, thus far successful, adoption.
First, I want to say, I am not an adoptive parent, nor am I adopted
myself. I have met someone who has adopted a girl from China, and am
aware of the issues that the one child rule raises for girls in China.
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.
In 2005, my wife and I adopted our daughter from Hunan, China. We were
(and are) perfectly aware that there would be a lot of questions for
her (and us) to deal with as the years went by. Right now, at age 8,
our daughter's a pretty typical Canadian girl who knows that she was
born in China and left outside a school, sent to an orphanage, raised
by a foster family and then adopted by us. She's not expressed great
interest in China, but we're not going to be surprised if one day she
"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)
There are plenty of tears shed on the screen and even more by the movie theater audience,myself included.The movie does a beautiful job portraying the lives of the Chinese adoptees and the many challenges they face.One thing that I took away from Somewhere Between is the need the children shared in knowing about their heritage.For some it is a desire to perhaps visit the orphanage or village they came from or for others it may be too track down their birth parents.The movie is an absolute delight and will appeal to a wide range of movie-goers,but will especially touch those in the adoption community who can relate first hand about the heartfelt journey of adoption.
I remember putting "Somewhere Between" (2011) on my IMDb watchlist as soon as I found it in the trailer gallery, but for some reasons I didn't watch it until now. Now, more than an hour after the film's finished, I struggle to arrange my thoughts and I guess it has to do with the fact that I'm also adopted from China (to Swedish adoptive parents). The unsatisfying knowledge of never being able to get to know my biological parents has stuck with me for years but has almost dissolved. Watching Haley meet her biological parents was fascinating, and as Ann I felt a sting of envy. I guess what I want to say is that I'm very happy to have watched "Somewhere Between" and it left me hopeful for the future. This is an important documentary everyone should see, adopted or not, as it deals with coming to terms with one's identity!
The Chinese government's 'one family/one child' policy which began in
1979 had a serious unintended consequence. Because families were told
they could only have one child, many families began abandoning their
girls. After all, they reasoned, families NEED a boy--they don't need
girls (a similar problem has occurred in India, by the way). But, what
can they do with all these little girls? Well, there were lots of
families around the world who were eager to adopt many of them. This
film is about five Chinese girls who were adopted by Americans and
chronicles their lives and struggles. It brings up many interesting
topics, such as the desire by some to try to locate their birth
parents, fitting in with American and Chinese culture and many others.
All this is quite interesting--and you really found yourself feeling
for the girls. Because of this, a few times I could feel a few tears
welling up--so be sure to have some Kleenex handy.
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.
What is it like to be a little girl, flown out of China with some sense
of past home, place and life, then adopted and raised as an American in
a secure home with love and good parenting? This skillfully-made
documentary puts you in the shoes--no, the skins--of four young women
who, in the words of one, are like bananas, yellow outside and white
inside. They are all bright, well-educated, hard-working, and grounded,
but something is still missing in their lives.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having read quite a few reviews describing this film as having a limited audience, I would have to agree. I too have a daughter from China, so I've been following and waiting for the film to come out for some time. However, as a mom to a Chinese girl, this was a very moving film. I highly recommend this to all who have trans-racial adopted children as some of these issues are endemic to adoption in general and a sense of identity some of these girls feel left "in between". As another reader noted, we are left a bit in want for a follow-up on how someone feels when they find their birth family. How do you deal with it when the birth family shows you love now when they left you then? Even if not both parents wanted this separation. How does the adopted mother feel? Otherwise, a very good film. I'd like to hear from people NOT involved in adoption to see what they saw in the movie. And coincidentally, my daughter was also from Hunan thus I went to the same center to get my daughter, so that was a personally emotional moment for me. The girls are all lovely and accomplished, intelligent teenagers.
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