Somewhere Between, 2011, USA
Filmmaker Linda Goldstein Knowlton and her husband adopted a young girl named Ruby from China. In the opening moments of the film, she explains that she’s making this film for her, and follows four teenagers for three years. All four were adopted from China when they were young.
I really enjoyed the film. It was very moving, and all four young women had beautiful stories and their wisdom and insights into being adopted were astounding. They shared stories of racism, ignorance, and the sometimes hidden consequences of being adopted into a transracial family. One of the girls talked about feeling the need to succeed and over-compensated in every area of her life due to abandonment fears, another who was adopted at age five feels torn between two different nations. Because of the adoption system in China and the fact that many children up for adoption were abandoned, it is often impossible to find out information about a child’s birth family.
It was definitely a thought-provoking film. There was a brief conversation mid-way through the film between an anti-international adoption advocate and some of the girls featured in the film. I wish more of this individual’s perspective had been shown, because the argument he was giving was interesting.
Another thing I would have liked covered in more detail is the fact that adoption has changed significantly in China over the last few years. Fewer adoptees are being abandoned merely because they are girls; instead, many adoptees in China are in orphanages because they have special needs.
I appreciated the honesty of the four teenagers, because the audience gets an insight into international adoption that they may not have had prior to watching this documentary. I found the perspective of Fang, who was adopted at age five, to be especially interesting. She speaks fluent Mandarin, and has memories of her birth family. The other girls were adopted at a younger age, so her perspective was quite different based on her differing experiences.
Somewhere Between is available for rent on Netflix.