Wo Ai Ni Mommy, shown on PBS this week, has definitely lit up the adoption blogosphere. I'd seen it months ago and written my review then, so don't want to replow that old ground. But it is interesting to see the same defenders of the adoptive mom, and the adoptive mom herself, jump into defensive posture to respond to folks saying the same things I did! (In fact, in response to one of the passionate defenses of the adoptive mom by a friend of hers in the comments to my review, I predicted this reaction: "Again, loyalty is a good quality. But you should probably get used to the fact that people are going to see your friend Donna differently from how you see her, based on the film. When it gets a wider viewing on PBS I'm sure there are going to be a lot of people who see the film exactly like you do. But there will also be a lot of people who see it like I do. And even more who see it like neither of us do.")
In one response at one discussion site, the adoptive mom says none of us who have critiqued the film have gotten the point of the film, which she says was: "The film was about how quickly children will adapt to their new homes, culture and environment!" Put aside for a moment whether ANY film has only one point when it's seen by more than one person, how about we talk about that one point, then!? Here's the gist of what I said at the forum where Donna chimed in:
Donna and others tell us the "point" of the film is that children adapt and assimilate quickly. I don't think anyone who has adopted would doubt that, regardless of the age of the child at the time of adoption. It is amazing, really, for those of us who have experienced it.
But one of the negatives about adoption, in my opinion, is that there's an expectation that the child will adapt and not necessarily one that the family/parents will adapt. For example, the parenting style that works for bio children or a previously adopted child might not "work" for a newly adopted child. How does/should parenting style change/adapt to take into consideration that the child is different? Does the family's lifestlye change/adapt? Simple example: my oldest and I are go-go-go people, love to run around, hate to stay home; my youngest is a homebody and needs a slower pace. I could have asked her to adapt and run around all the time like we do, or I could have slowed us down and stayed home more. Which should I have done?
Second point is about cultural assimilation -- again, that seems to be presented in the movie as a good thing, with the only cautionary voice that of Dr. Amanda Baden. Why is cultural assimilation good? What does cultural assimilation actually mean -- can it be done while still maintaining a healthy racial/ethnic identity? How is culture and race/ethnicity distinct? What's the goal of cultural assimilation? Is this another adaptation required only of the adopted child, and not of the adoptive family? How can we help our children feel both "Chinese" and "American?" Is that even an appropriate goal?
So what do you think? Why is it in adoption that only the adoptee has to assimilate and adapt? How can/should families adapt in transcultural adoption? Does the film show positive adaptation and assimilation? Is assimilation a good thing? Are there ways to "assimilate" and still maintain connections to the original culture? Is Dr. Amanda Baden correct in trying to shift the focus from culture to race? Is it sufficient answer to say that right now, at age 11, Faith is happy and thriving in America? When, at the end of the film, Faith said she felt more American than Chinese, was that a happy ending?