Exploring POV. Adoptive parents. A Note About Facilitation POV.

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1 POV Exploring Adoption Video Modules and Discussion Prompts for Adoptees, Adoptive parents and Practitioners Adoptive parents POV Created by POV, in collaboration with our Adoption Stories Advisory Board and the Adoption Stories filmmakers, these video modules are an invitation to dialogue. These clips from POV s Adoption Stories (Off and Running, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee and Wo Ai Ni Mommy) were chosen as discussion tools to engage people in important conversation around adoption, adoptive parenting and race and identity issues. It is our vision that participants will use these clips and the accompanying questions to listen and learn from one another, rather than to debate or judge. We invite participants to expand their thinking and to share their point of view. For more detailed event planning and facilitation tips, visit /outreach A Note About Facilitation The clips and discussion prompts were chosen to address a range of situations and issues. If a clip or question doesn t seem to fit the needs of your group, try the next one. Clips can be viewed in any order and in any combination, except where noted. As your group convenes, think about how you can set a tone that invites respect, honesty and reflection. You may want to remind people that everyone s story is unique and important, and the experiences of each person in the group, as well as the people featured in the clips, can provide valuable insights. You may or may not be the best person to facilitate, especially if you have multiple responsibilities for your event. Also, if you are particularly invested in a topic, it might be wise to ask someone more neutral to guide the discussion. If you are looking for someone else to facilitate, university professors, human resource professionals and youth leaders may be specially trained in facilitation and can be excellent resources. In addition to these local resources, groups such as the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute or the National Conference for Community & Justice may be able to provide or help you locate skilled facilitators. Be sure that your facilitator receives a copy of this guide well in advance of your event! American Documentary, Inc. 1

2 Video Modules and discussion ProMPts POV Exploring Adoption The Films To help you answer basic questions that may arise during discussion, here is a bit of background on the films. You can find extended descriptions of each film on the POV website ( as well as background material on the central issues raised in each film. IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG HEE Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for a Korean adoptee who came to the United States in Told to keep her true identity secret from her new American family, the 8-year-old girl quickly forgot she had ever been anyone else. But why had her identity been switched? And who was the real Cha Jung Hee? The feature length (63-minute) film In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee depicts Deann Borshay Liem s search to find the answers. In this follow-up to First Person Plural (POV 2000), the filmmaker returns to her native Korea to find her double, the mysterious girl whose place she took in the United States. Traversing the landscapes of memory and identity, Liem uncovers layers of misinformation in her adoption as she probes the cost of living with someone else s identity. 2 American Documentary, Inc

3 Adoptive parents POV WO AI Ni MOMMY Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy, a feature-length (76- minute) documentary, follows the Sadowskys, a Jewish family from Long Island, New York, as they journey to China to adopt 8-year-old Fang Sui Yong. Sui Yong s is not an entirely unique story. There are now approximately 70,000 Chinese adoptees being raised in the United States. What is unusual here, however, is that viewers witness Sui Yong s first encounters with her new parents and her sometimes unsettling shift from being Chinese to identifying herself as an American. This film is an honest and intimate portrait of loss and gain. As an outreach tool it raises important questions about cultural preservation, transracial and international adoption, parenting, family and what it means to be an American, what it means to be Chinese and what it means to be white. OFF AND RUNNING The challenges of soul-searching and growth are magnified when one s personal story includes multiple heritages. Off and Running, a feature-length (76-minute) film, documents one such story. With white Jewish lesbians for parents and two adopted brothers one mixed-race and one Korean Brooklyn track star Avery grew up in a unique and loving household. But when, as a teenager, she becomes increasingly curious about her African- American roots, she decides to contact her birth mother. This choice propels Avery into a complicated exploration of race, identity and family that threatens to distance her from her parents. She starts skipping school and staying away from home, risking her shot at the college track career that had long been her dream. But when Avery decides to pick up the pieces of her life and make sense of her identity, the results are inspiring. Off and Running follows Avery to the brink of adulthood, exploring the strength of family bonds and the lengths some people must go to become themselves. American Documentary, Inc. 3

4 Video Modules and discussion ProMPts POV Exploring Adoption DISCUSSION PROMPTS ** Indicates that this clip is especially recommended for this group GENERAL (can be used with any clip and any audience to get the discussion going) Was there anything in the clip that spoke truth to you? How was what you saw like or unlike your own experience? What question(s) did this clip raise for you? CLIP 1: WAR SHAPED MY DESTINY (In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee) Topics: International Adoption What do you learn from this clip about how the ravages of war or natural disaster affect adoptions? How confident would you be / have you been about adopting in such a situation? Do you feel there were appropriate safeguards when you adopted? Why or why not? Korean adoptions began out of a sense of post-war responsibility but also on a flawed assumption that any child would be happier in the U.S. than in Korea. Have you seen that assumption present in other situations? In your view, is it a useful foundation for the adoption process? Why or why not? CLIP 2: MY BIRTH MOTHER S HISTORY (In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee) Topics: Relations with Birth Parents, Identity How much do you know about the life story of your child s birth family? How much of that information have you shared (or do you intend to share) with your child? What factors enter into your decision about what or whether to share? What information is most important for a child to know about their family s history and why? If you have already shared that information, what was the response? What are you most concerned about in sharing your child s history? What do you plan on telling your child about information you do not have? CLIP 3: I LL TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE (Off and Running) Topics: Relations with Birth Parents What s your reaction to the response of Avery s mothers to Avery s attempt to contact her birth mother? What would your own response be, or what has your response been in the past? What do you think Avery heard when Tova said, I m gonna tell you exactly who you are? What do you think Avery might have wanted to hear her family say? If your child had questions about who he/she was, who would you tell them they are? 4 American Documentary, Inc

5 Adoptive parents POV CLIP 4: LUNCH WITH OLD FRIENDS & CLIP 5: DINNER WITH NEW FRIENDS (Off and Running) Topics: Interracial Adoption What did you learn from these clips about the challenges of interracial adoption? Given that race matters in the U.S., how do you acknowledge its importance? Do you think it could be divisive within a family? Why or why not? What could you do to prevent this from happening? Avery says that she doesn t know how to be black. In your view, did her parents have a responsibility to introduce her to that part of her heritage before she reached adolescence? Why or why not? What might they have done to assist Avery in feeling comfortable with her African American heritage, as well as her Jewish heritage? How do you describe your family s cultural makeup or heritage? Avery s black friends call her an oreo. What does that label mean and how would you characterize its impact? How does that make you feel? At the end of the dinner with her black friends, Avery says of her moms, I don t feel like they understand who I am, how I feel, or anything about the world that I m in right now. Avery also says that as she begins to identify with her African-American side her moms don t really seem to fit into that part of my life. In your view, how much of this sentiment is a typical expression of adolescence, how much is specific to adopted children, and how much is specific to the fact that Avery is black and her mothers are white? ** CLIP 6: IT ALL BLOWS UP (Off and Running) Topics: Relations with Birth Parents, Parenting, Identity Avery is confused about her parents reaction to her finding her birth family. Which of their actions seemed to communicate that they were supportive and which indicated that they were hurt? What emotions does the possibility (or actuality) of your child contacting their birth parents raise for you? Tova expresses anger at the way that Avery is being treated by her birth mother. Do you think this is a typical reaction of an adoptive parent? Why or why not? Have you dealt with (or how would you deal with) a situation in which you did not approve of a birth parent s relationship with your child? Clearly Avery s mothers say they love her to the point that they would do anything for this kid. But Avery says she felt like she had nobody. Why do you think that was? What are the sources of Avery s isolation from her mothers and what strategies might have helped them bridge the gap? What would you do to reassure your child that you are always available to them? Was there ever a situation in which you could not be there for them? What emotions did that raise for you and what did you do? Tova says, She s just making this whole thing so difficult for herself. In your view, is that a fair assessment of Avery s struggle? Why or why not? If not, what is Tova failing to see about her daughter s journey? Travis says, It s like something really traumatic happened to her, but I don t think anything did. What was your reaction to this? In Avery s search for her identity, what might she have described as traumatic, and why? How do you think Travis s reaction affects Avery? CLIP 7: FIRST MEETING (Wo Ai Ni Mommy) Topics: International Adoption, Intercultural Adoption, Interracial Adoption How was this similar to or different from your initial meeting with your child? What were Faith s major concerns? Did any of these concerns surprise you? What did you learn about intercultural adoption from Faith s questions? How do you think adopting an eight-year-old differs from adopting a baby? American Documentary, Inc. 5

6 Video Modules and discussion ProMPts POV Exploring Adoption In your view, was Donna well prepared for this initial encounter? If you were Donna, what else might you have wanted to know before meeting your daughter? What role did the orphanage coordinator play in easing this transition or making it more difficult? Do you think something else could have been done? How did you feel about how Faith was introduced to her new name? Did you re-name your adopted child(ren)? Why was keeping their name or giving them a new name important to you? How do our names link us to our families and our heritage? CLIP 8: LEARNING ENGLISH (Wo Ai Ni Mommy) Topics: Parenting, International Adoptions, Emotions Donna worries that Faith resents having to learn English and thinks Donna should learn Chinese. Should she? Why or why not? How strict should Donna be in keeping Faith on task? How do you balance establishing yourself as the parent and showing compassion about the enormous changes that Faith is being asked to adapt to? How do you prepare your child for a world where nobody around them speaks their language? Do you get a translator? When Faith says the task is hard because You are a foreigner and I am Chinese what do you think she meant? What might her concerns have been? What might Donna have said to Faith in response? What do you think Donna wanted Faith to feel at that moment? What do you think that Faith actually felt? What do you think Donna felt? CLIP 9: I WANT TO GO HOME Wo Ai Ni Mommy) Topics: Parenting, International Adoptions How would you respond to Faith s desire to return to China? How would you deal with enforcing house rules in a way that demonstrated an understanding of the tough transition that Faith is experiencing and the added frustration of not yet having the language skills to use her words. ** CLIP 10: MEETING WITH A COUNSELOR (Wo Ai Ni Mommy) Topics: Interracial Adoption, International Adoption, Intercultural Adoption, Identity Dr. Baden voices a common question that children involved in international or transracial adoption ask: Why would you really want a child so different from yourselves (who doesn t look like you, speak your language, or have the same cultural experiences)? What would you say if your child asked you that question? Donna s response to Faith s question about why they chose to adopt a Chinese girl was to say that they don t really see her as Chinese. What are all the possible messages that Faith might take away from this answer? How do you think Donna s response makes Faith feel? Dr. Baden notes that race is a very different thing than cultural practices (e.g., Jeff s references to Yo Yo Ma or martial arts). What is the distinction? How can families involved in transracial or intercultural adoptions go beyond these cultural connections? Do you think it is beneficial for a child to attend cultural activities? Should the family attend, as well? Why or why not? Dr. Baden says, White parents don t have a real history of talking about race in the same way [as parents of color] because they haven t had to. It s not been something that they have had a practice of having to talk about. Under what circumstances have you had an opportunity to talk about race with your child? Why might it be important for parents who plan to adopt transracially to have that conversation? How does racial awareness benefit the child? Benefit adoptive parents? Jeff thinks it is a huge help to Faith to have a Chinese sister. In your view, what difference would it make to have a sibling that looked like you? Dr. Baden says that she has worked with kids who say that their family picture looked perfect except for them, because they looked so different than everyone else. Have you had this experience in your family? What specific things can parents do to make a child feel like part of the family when the child doesn t physically resemble other members of that family? Do you feel like Dr. Baden s comments were helpful to the Sadowskys? 6 American Documentary, Inc

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