Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Somewhere Between: Chinese Adoptees Come to Terms with Their Identity
recent years, China’s greatest export has been the best and brightest of the
next generation. They call them
girls. China’s One Child Policy,
cultural preferences, and dire rural poverty created a perfect storm of little
orphaned girls. Over 100,000 have been
adopted worldwide, out of which over 80,000 are now Americans. Four such teenaged adoptees are profiled in
Linda Goldstein Knowlton’s Somewhere
opens this Friday in New York.
adoptees really expect to find their birth parents. It is a matter of simple math: over a billion
people and scant documentation.
Nonetheless, many will try to trace their roots, not necessarily to
reconnect with the parents that let them go, but to help come to terms with who
they really are. Jenna, Haley, Ann, and Fang
(or “Jenni”), the primary POV figures in Somewhere,
are indeed high achievers. Some admit part
of their drive stems from the lingering feeling of abandonment—that is a loaded
word in the film, but it is hard to get around it. However, it may come to pass China will
regret losing out on their talents and those of scores of young women just like
them. While the flow of adoption has
slowed, the impact on upcoming Chinese generations will be felt in years to
the greatest revelation in Somewhere is
the continuing engagement of not just the girls but their entire families on
the issue of Chinese orphans. One
Evangelical family has formed a nonprofit to deliver much needed supplies to
the ill-equipped provincial orphanages.
Yet, the film’s most moving subplot by far involves Fang and her family’s
efforts first to fund physical therapy for a little disabled girl and then help
facilitate her placement with an American family ready and willing to provide
the care she needs.
in most documentaries, the Evangelical community is presented on balance quite
positively in Somewhere. They are the adopting demographic, after
all. The kids at school can still be
insensitive jerks though. Hopefully,
Knowlton’s film will lead to greater understanding. Indeed, viewers should realize girls like the
Somewhere quartet will be their children’s
future classmates or maybe even their own daughters.
Smart and uncommonly together, each of the
featured young women is worth meeting on-screen. Clearly, they were comfortable opening up to
Knowlton, who set out to make the film to provide her own adopted Chinese
daughter some points of reference for when she is old enough to start grappling
with these issues. Well intentioned, emotionally
engaging, and never polemical, Somewhere
Between is recommended rather strongly when it opens this Friday (8/24) in
New York at the IFC Center, with Knowlton and several participants appearing at
select screenings throughout the weekend.
Labels: Chinese Adoption, Documentary