Somewhere Between

88 min. Dist. by Good Docs. 2012. DVD $99. Digital streaming license $599. UPC 767685283981.
Gr 7 Up—In the last 35 years, more than 175,000 Chinese girls have been adopted. They now live in 26 countries worldwide. About 80,000 of these girls live in the United States. The four teenaged girls profiled in this documentary are articulate and self-aware, including 14-year-old Ann, from Lansdale, PA, who recognizes that her abandonment by her parents led to her perfectionism and her constant search for ways to compensate. On the other hand, the young women breeze past deeply intense emotional moments, such as one girl reasoning that she was "dumped" was because she was a mistake and born female. Nowhere is an emotional shock clearer than in the reunion of 13-year-old Haley with her birth parents. She has grown up with her adoptive family in Tennessee, believing it would be impossible to meet her relatives, but within an hour of hanging a poster with her photo in the city of her birth, she meets her father, uncle, cousins, and three sisters. Haley powers through this meeting with a smile that belies a moment filled with what's got to be, at the very least, mixed emotions. A bonus disc for parents and educators raises important points about handling the potentially awkward experiences adoptive parents and adoptees might face.
VERDICT Given that there are six million adoptees in America, this is an important film even though issues of identity are examined only as far as these teens will allow.

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