Friday, January 25, 2008

Take what you will from this

You know how I was going to write about Juno? Well, Cecily did it better, and so did Kateri and I'm sure a dozen others. I wrote in both their comments, feel free to read. I once again spent all my time writing 1000's of words there instead of writing it my own blog.

I wanted to see Juno first, but I already have PTSD and I'm in the middle of a high-risk pregnancy, so after much internal debate---I'm not seeing until long after this pregnancy is over and even then only with a handful of ADs and some beta blockers, just in case. I just can't risk flooding my uterus with adrenaline. Commenting on Cecily's and Kateri's blog took enough shit out of me today. I'm basing my opinion on the dozens of reviews and online synopsis I've read about it.

FWIW, Adoption is not well represented in this movie, and now that it's nominated for Best Picture the world is going to think that it is an accurate picture of how adoption works. This movie has a lot of stereotypes, which wouldn't matter if TV and movies ever showed more complex adoption storylines. Trouble is, this is the sole representation of adoption in the media--desperate nice prospective adoptive parents, self-sacrificing first mother who skips off into the sunset, and of course, the adoptee, who grows up utterly grateful and no one ever wonders if the baby is okay with it. (Yeah, the bio father in the movie was scarcely consulted. sigh....)

Stereotypes make for universally shitty writing, bad TV and bad movies, and I always hold that opinion regardless of the subject. So yes, a little complexity would help. How about an adoptee point-of-view in an open adoption? How about an adoptive mother who helps her daughter adoptee find their first mom information years later and is totally supportive? How about a movie about adoptive parents who return the kid they adopted because they don't like them? (You know like 20% of all adoptions?) How about a movie about a mom who is falsely convicted of murdering her baby, forced to give her older child up for adoption, and after it is discovered that the evidence was faked by an incompetent pathologist and she is innocent and the conviction is reversed, it turns out that she can never ever get her child back because adoption cannot ever be undone unless the adoptive parents return the kid. The result is that her son will never ever know directly from her that his mom isn't a murderer. Even if by some chance they can be reunited, they can never be legally related again. The bell can never be unrung.

Nahhhhhh, that would be complex and interesting and true to life without a Hollywood happy ending, and we can't have that now can we?

This video is a real life relinquishment. A first mom saying good-bye. The reason I find it so heartwrenching is because it reminds me of the terrible grief I felt when the nurse took Matthew away to the morgue. The difference? I knew he was going to be buried in a cemetary and I didn't have to spend the rest of my life wondering where he was, if he was safe. If he was loved. First parents who relinquish can never know for sure, even if they get extensive checks done on the PAPs, even in an open adoption, even in the movie version.

After watching this, what more is there to write?


  1. I am not watching that movie. It sounds too effing cutesy.

  2. Well put. I enjoyed the movie - it was too precious in the beginning but I thought that Jennifer Gardner did a wonderful job at portraying the pain and heartache of not being able to conceive. But your points are well taken.

  3. I think we can safely count any movies on pregnancy, especially comedies, off my list. Forever. Like Cecily said, I don't find anything remotely funny about getting pregnant, wondering if you should terminate or not, and then going through the adoption process -- on either side.

  4. I'd call this a good post about Juno. And I'm only just now about to go read the posts to which you referred, but from what Tash said, I also agree with Cecily. Not funny.

  5. I haven't seen Juno and doubt I will.

    I'm not tremendously well qualified to comment on the issues involved in adoption, but though now is clearly not the time for you to be watching it, I will go out on a limb and recommend the film Loggerheads. My mom actually knows the real-life birthmother behind the story told in the movie, which involves a closed adoption in which both the birthmother and the (now adult) son she placed trying to find each other.

    Spoiler alert, in case anyone doesn't want to know what happens (though the point of the movie isn't really the specific outcome per se but the emotions of each person involved), -- the birthmom finds the adoptive parents (at least the mother) but not before the son she placed, who is gay and estranged from his Christian parents, has died from AIDS. I found the film deeply touching (and sad), though I suppose one might walk away from it thinking, "closed adoption: bad; open adoption: good." But actually one thing that I got out of was that the birthmom, who was a "classic" candidate for placing a child (middle class, in high school, unintended pregnancy, father of the baby not on the scene), shouldn't have -- she didn't want to and regretted it for the rest of her life (and with good reason, as things turned out).

    Well, for whatever that's worth...Meanwhile, your avoiding stress sounds like a plan and I hope this comment was sufficiently insignificant not to interfere with that.

  6. I said a few things along these lines over on Beagle's blog. Film-makers, well, there's a place for populist writing. You're correct - it's not high art, but sometimes it's what sells and if the stereotypes exist (which they do, although not universally or even commonly in some cases) and they haven't actually lied (which Juno did, it failed factually) then it's all fair game.

    I do want to see serious portrayals from time to time, but mostly I wish people would realise that movies are fiction.

    That video was wrenching.


  7. I too am an adoptee. My bio-mother and adoptive father were in the Navy, on the same base.

    My adoption was the rare exception to the rule. All four parents met, my AF was her TA in tech school, and my AM and BM had teh same ob/gyn. The entire cost of the adoption was $65.00. I would absolutely HATE to see what a screenwriter would do with that story.

    I have a good relationship with my adoptive parents and my biological parents (and sisters) and I can't image not having them in my life. Still, there was a lot of hurt and tears in the process of reuniting. For once, I would love to see a realistic story told that isn't cutesied up or turned into a tragic "Dr. Phil" show.

    Where is the realism?