Social Struggles between Adopted Chinese Children

by ewolf2 on November 18, 2013 - 10:31pm

Somewhere Between (2011) directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton is a film displaying the lives of four adopted Chinese girls after being given up for adoption because of the “one child policy” in China. The film portrays the hardships of social interactions upon adopted children when meeting new people and of course their birth parents.  In the film, a particular adopted Chinese girl named Haley Butler met her birth parents for the first time. Haley’s mother left her as a baby on someone’s property. She has reached the point in her life where she wants to find and meet her birth parents. Once tracking them down Hayley was able to meet them. The film portrays the conflict in their first interaction through important scenes, language and interpretation.

Every day of Haley’s life she encounters many people. Knowlton displays these interactions in her film. Wherever she goes people stop and stare at her because they see that her parents are white while she is Chinese. Haley has to deal with the constant staring and continue on with her daily life. Haley talks about a time when a girl said to her “I know Chinese” and pulled her eyes down. Haley in fact does not know Chinese and is automatically judged without people getting to know her. One scene in the film, Haley goes to a hair salon with her adopted mom and younger adopted sister. An older woman getting her hair done believes that the father of the children is Asian. Haley has to explain to the woman that they were adopted as she has to do with most people she interacts with. I feel sorry for Haley because it’s not easy being looked at differently and having to explain your life story to everyone you encounter.

            Haley meeting her birth parents is a crucial scene in the film. Upon meeting her mother Haley is very nervous because if she did not want her when she was a baby why would she want to see her now? Anyone would feel the same way as Haley and this must be the hardest moment in her life. When Haley met her mother she did not cry or show any emotion. Haley looked uncomfortable while her mother cried hugging her. Haley’s father kept holding his daughter very close and touching her differently than someone in America would do. In China there are different social norms than the US, which is why Haley would be uncomfortable. Haley also does not remember meeting them since she was only a baby and her parents still remember holding her and have the regret of letting her go. Haley does not speak Chinese making it hard for her to communicate with her parents. I think in order to make it easier for an adopted girl to meet her birth parents; she should be taught how to speak Chinese at a young age. That way when the day comes and she wants to meet them she is ready. Haley and her birth parents have to speak through a translator. This is really difficult because things are twisted. Haley’s birth mother’s story was changed through the translator on how she abandoned her daughter. The translator said they gave her to her cousin’s family when really the cousin was supposed to take Haley to another family they knew. This can be confusing to Haley and she may not understand how she was given up. Since they speak through a translator, words are perceived differently when comparing the Chinese and English language. Two words may have the same literal meaning but different in context.  Haley, along with many other adopted Chinese children goes through everyday struggles dealt with interactions with others. Knowlton portrays these hardships throughout her film especially through the story of Haley Butler.



Knowlton, L. (Director). (2011). Somewhere between [Motion picture]. USA:     Available from Long Shot Factory & Ladylike Films



About the author