Monday, March 28, 2011

Sofia's Journey

A story about a girl adopted from China, the subject of Dr. Changfu Chang's latest documentary, Sofia's Journey, seeking her birth family:
Her journey begins with a question: Who am I?

There are the things she can see — the glossy black hair, the luminous smile, the dark brown eyes — and the things she feels.

She feels like dancing. And she feels like singing. She feels a kinetic forward momentum, a perpetual simmer that makes her want to fly.

She feels the fence beneath her feet. On one side of it, she’s the American daughter of Marilyn and Peter Robinson, a text-sending, ballet-dancing, homework-doing, shoes-buying teenager who is plugged in and accustomed to having her voice heard. On the other side, she’s a daughter of China.

In Grand Junction, she looks different. In China, she feels different.

Who am I?

* * *

When Sofia entered middle school, she started asking aloud the questions that had always floated through her subconscious: What about my birth family? Where are they? Who are they? Why did they give me up?

Marilyn and Peter were reminded that to be adoptive parents is to assume a certain humility, to know that there is room in a child’s heart for both families.

“I felt that’s what a mother would do is love (Sofia) so much that I would bring her home,” Marilyn explained in “Sofia’s Journey.”

Having spent decades in marketing, Marilyn launched a campaign to find Sofia’s birth family. Fliers with baby photos of Sofia said, in English and Chinese, “I lost my parents in June 1995.” She and Peter called the orphanage, called government officials, called everyone who might be able to help. With only sporadic success, they nevertheless planned to go to China in June 2008.

From a Yahoo! group she’d joined, Marilyn learned about Chang, a documentary filmmaker and professor of video production at Millersville University in Pennsylvania who specialized in documentaries about adoptees returning to China to search for their birth families. Marilyn emailed him to ask for advice, and discovered he’d be in Xiamen, Fujian Province, at the same time as the Robinsons.
And so the documentary was born.  I remember attending a talk by Dr. Chang where he mentioned this documentary in the making.  The local FCC chapter is having him back for a viewing of the new documentary May 1st.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw both movies a week ago and they were amazing. Fascinating to learn about what the teenage adoptees are going through, as well as to hear the birth family's side of things. I highly recommend both movies and if you can go to a screening, then go. You will learn additional information during the question/answer session, about one of the birth families, which Dr. Chang learned about after he edited the films, that I guarantee, will change the way you look at birth families in China. You will definitely be more sympathetic to their situation. Plus, if you are searching for birth family in China, these movies are very informative. Even if you are familiar with the story about Eline from the Netherlands, who was profiled on a Dutch documentary a few years ago, which was available to be seen online, there is a new twist to her story. In other words, if you can get to a screening, go and you won't be sorry. I learn just as much from the question/answer session afterwards with Dr. Chang, as I learn from his movies.