Effects of Adoption

by cclar6 on November 18, 2013 - 10:07pm

The film “Somewhere Between” directed by Lisa Goldstein is a poignant, touching documentary focusing on four teenage girls, all having gone through similar experiences throughout their childhood. The one thing that each of these girls have in common is that they were adopted from orphanages in China when they were young children, and now live with American families. This film focuses on the portrayal of social issues, particularly how the Chinese “One Child Policy” drastically affected the course of these girls’ lives, and also social and cultural differences and interactions between the Chinese and Americans.

Though these teenage girls seem strong and brave on the outside, you can’t help but watch this film and empathize with each one of them. When interviewed, they each seem beyond content with the outcome of their lives, and believe that being adopted by their American family and given all the opportunities they have now was the best thing that could have ever happened to them. However, when discussing their adoption further, there is a sense that they can’t help but wonder what their lives would have been like had they stayed either with their biological family or in the orphanage in China. This must take an emotional toll on these girls each and every day, constantly wondering whether or not they are better off living in the United States.

The “One Child Policy” is one of, if not the main factor for each of the families making the decision to give up their baby girl to the orphanage after birth. This policy, as the self-explanatory title implies, prohibits Chinese families from having more than one child per household. This is a major issue even today in China, and is implemented due to the densely populated country with limited space, especially in the major cities such as Beijing. Also, boys are extremely valuable in Chinese cultures, primarily to carry on the family name and to be the workers for the families. When having children, the majority of couples hope and pray to get a boy, and if they end up having a girl can be very disappointed. This could also be a major influencing factor in their decision to give up the baby girl for adoption; this way they would to be able to try again and have another chance at getting their coveted baby boy.

Whether or not to embark on the journey to search for your biological parents in a life-changing decision. While each of these girls seems to feel completely loved and adored by their adoptive families, there seems to be a piece of them missing in the absence of the facts of their adoption, and some of the girls display this as feelings of abandonment. One of the four girls, Haley, seems to be the main character in this documentary. She especially struggles with the “what ifs” of the situation of her adoption. She obviously had some type of abandonment issues, and many times tried to fill in the blanks of her biological parents’ intentions of giving her up to the orphanage. Was it because she was a girl, was she not good enough, or did her very own mother and father genuinely just not want her?

Through Haley’s bravery of searching for her biological family also comes the portrayal of social interactions. Amazingly, her parents were located through a poster on a telephone pole near the original site of the orphanage and were contacted with the information of Haley’s whereabouts. They planned to meet up, and the interaction between the different cultures was fascinating. Though Haley is biologically Asian, she doesn’t display the cultural attributes of her heritage. For example, her biological mother could not stop stroking Haley’s hair and hugging her, while Haley was not as physically affectionate. Likewise, her father was holding her hand throughout the entirety of their meeting. Another obvious interaction issue was the language barrier. Haley’s biological parents spoke almost no English, and Haley spoke absolutely no Chinese. This forced a translator to help communicate, and made the interactions very impersonal through having to summarize their sentences. Lastly, when Haley travels to China to what would be her house if she had not been adopted, there is a majorly warm welcome. It was almost as if the entire community had gathered as her car pulled up, cheering and shouting with joy and open arms. It was amazing to see the strength of a community in light of such an emotional reunion between parents and child.

Overall, the film “Somewhere Between” was an emotional and inspiring story to be able to see unfold. The social issue of the “One Child Policy” in China was a major factor on the lives of four teenage girls. Also, the social interactions between the different cultures was intriguing. This film would be beneficial to anyone to watch because it was very interesting and shows the outcome of strength and determination among young people.


Goldstein, L. (Director). (2011). Somewhere Between [DVD].

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