The Powerful Effects of Adoption

by lszko1 on November 18, 2013 - 10:51pm


Finding a place where you are able to fit in a society can be very difficult. Many factors begin to come into play that can make you feel as though you are an outsider. Some examples of these factors being, gender, religion, race, and class. Cultural worldviews and the act of crossing borders between different countries can have a big impact many different races. This is an issue that shows up in the documentary, Somewhere Between directed and produced by Linda Goldstein Knowlton (2011), where the lives of four young female Chinese adoptees, who were given up due to the “One Child Policy” were observed and profiled.  It allows us to feel the powerful experience that adopted children have to face and overcome and many of the hardships they face. Many themes of identity formation, family, adoption, race, cultural communication and issues of belonging and gender are present throughout the film.

The girls, Jenna Cook, Haley Butler, Ann Boccuti, and Jenni Lee are all teens ranging in age from 13-15 who live in suburban societies in the United States with their adopted American families. They are all in search of their roots and are trying to discover who they are. The film shows such an accurate portrayal of what its like to feel like something in your life is missing and what its like to have the urge to want to go on a journey to find it. Living in the United States, the girls experience many forms of stereotyping and racial slurs due to their race.  They state that they feel as if they don’t fit in very well in their societies at school, etc. because they are of Asian decent so people look at them differently and automatically make assumptions about them. They agree that sometimes they feel isolated and abandoned. Some of the girls refer to themselves as “bananas” because they are yellow on the outside and white on the inside. They act like any other American because they were raised in the United States and they want just as much to form their own identities.

In attempt to find out who they are, the girls travel back to the orphanages where they initially came from and even go back to the exact towns in China where they were born, to find their biological parents. In one specific case, one of the girls, Haley Butler, finds out that a man came forward and claimed he was her biological father. So she finally sets up a meeting to see her biological mother and father. When they finally come in contact and meet for the first time, there was a very distinct interaction between the two cultures. Since Haley does not speak their language there is a lack of understanding and communication because they have to use a translator.  There are social issues that are displayed in the film because the social interaction between Haley and her biological parents is separated in a way because both cultures act very different from one another. Her parents talk, act, and display their ways of affection very differently from what Haley is used to and previously exposed to in the United States.

This documentary portrays cross-cultural communication because it focuses on family structure, and ways people travel between countries. It shows some of the relationships the United States has with other countries through the adoption agencies and the traveling of people from one China to the United States. 


This post reminded me of my old neighbor who was adopted from China when she was five years old. The stories that you explain in your post are very similar to what she had experienced in coming into the United States. For example she had many social problems when she first arrived. For example her communication with peers was hard because she knew very little English. She had a hard time adjusting to the new culture and felt as if she would never make the adjustment. By the time I met her she had made a great transition to American culture and had also made many friends. To this day she still feels as if she is the “black sheep” around peers. This feeling that she describes ties into your post when you mentioned the girls referred to themselves as “bananas” because they are yellow on the outside and white on the inside. This information is significant because these are just a sample of thousands of adopted children from other countries. We can see the cultural jump they have to make when coming into the United States by the social interactions that they have with their people. Knowing this information we can try to pin point the problem social areas of these adoptees and make their experience in the U.S much more enjoyable. Documentaries like Somewhere Between directed and produced by Linda Goldstein Knowlton (2011) can open people’s eyes to the many problems that adoptees face when entering the United States.

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