In the process of sharing in the story of her daughter, adopted from China, Linda Goldstein Knowlton decided to tell the story of four other girls, Chinese adoptees living in the United States. The vehicle for her storytelling is the documentary Somewhere Between. On the film’s website, Goldstein Knowlton says,
I am making this film for everyone. For the girls, so they can see their experiences in connection with each other, and for everyone who grapples with issues of race, culture, identity, and being “different.” By necessity, we must all try to comprehend the experience of being “other” in America, to see how each individual finds his or her own way in society. This film explores the emotional and psychological fallout on our daughters and our selves, and our cultural experience when stereotypes and assumptions collide.
The film follows the experiences of four young teenagers:
- Jenna Cook, a 13 year old in New Hampshire (now a student at Yale). “As strong as she is, she breaks down discussing the word ‘abandonment’ and its effect on her life. . . . The film documents her courage and commitment to facing her past as she volunteers for summer work at the very Chinese orphanage that housed her as an infant.”
- Haley Butler, 13 years old in Nashville, TN (currently studying at Nashville School of the Arts). While she is on a trip to China to find her birth parents, “miraculously, a man comes forward and claims her as his biological daughter, which sends Haley on a rollercoaster ride of excitement, trepidation, and self doubt until, at the end of the film, Haley discovers some surprising and shocking truths about herself and her history.”
- Ann Boccuti, 14 years old, living in a Philadelphia, PA, suburb (now a student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania). “She loves her life and has little desire to know anything about where she came from. . . . Her attitude, however, shifts when she meets other adopted girls in the CAL/Global Girls organization, and signs up for a trip to Europe with them. Once she is exposed to the innermost thoughts of other girls like her, girls who admit they have a nagging desire to find their roots, her world cracks open.”
- Fang “Jenni” Lee, a 14-year-old in Berkely, CA (currently a student at Mt. Holyoke). “Her adopted parents divorce, and Fang must relive the ‘abandonment’ she faced as a small child. Amid this emotional turmoil, Fang travels to China and sees a little girl in a Chinese foster home, unmoving because of her cerebral palsy. Touched, Fang becomes determined to find the little girl a home.”
“This film is about these four girls,” says Goldstein Knowlton, “and the 79,562 girls growing up in America. Right now.”
The award-winning Somewhere Between has screenings scheduled in several cities, but if there isn’t one near you, join me in waiting for the DVD. Having adopted a boy from Taiwan, I think we could learn some things from these girls. As our son grows up, he’ll be asking more and more questions, and we want to do our best to help him find the right answers.
[photo: “Bridge,” by Andrew Hefter, used under a Creative Commons license]