“I am always searching for ways to compensate for the fact that I’m a girl, and that for some reason, maybe I wasn’t good enough. In my learning I always try to be the best that I can to compensate for that initial abandonment and rejection.”
One of China’s biggest problem that has been lingering on for a long time is its huge population, as it effects the country’s overall literacy level, poverty, living standards, and the control of the population. To limit the continual growth of babies born each year, China’s implemented the one child policy since the late 1970s and it has changed the lives of many, especially girls who were born in China.
As the Chinese culture favors boys a lot more, due to the rural farmers needed an extra male work-hand on the field, as well, they believe that once the girl grow up, and get married, they will become another person’s family, so all the resources and investments and time put on the girl have become a waste in their sense. The result is devastating as numerous baby girls have been abandoned on the streets, some were “lucky” enough that they were delivered to an orphanage, while others were left dead on the street.
Since the year 1989, over 150,000 children have been adopted in over 26 countries worldwide, most of them girls. “Somewhere Between” is the filmmaker Linda Goldstein Knowlton’s journey and exploration as she recently adopted a little baby girl from China and she wishes to prepare herself and her daughter for the growing path ahead. What are some of the issues she will need to face as she is growing up in a Caucasian family with an Asian face, how do they adjust psychologically and emotionally when being ask the tough questions in school and peers. How do they make their own identity, whose culture do they follow?
So the story begins with four adopted girls from the age of 13 to 15 who met through CAL/Global Girls which was found by and for girl adoptees worldwide. These four girls lived in various parts of the US, often being the only Asian in their small town. One of the common trait between all four girls are that they all do really well academically and socially outgoing, which we get a hint of reason why with Jenna’s story later on.
The film portrays a very real sense of struggle for these girls as they ask questions about their family origin and abandonment. They would avoid to use the word “abandonment” to be substituted with the word “placement”, telling themselves that it is because of this fate or destiny that they are able to have a much better life in North American right now. But deep in their heart, even though they believe this statement 99% of the time, that 1% of abandonment by their own biological family still is a thorn in the heart.
Jenna who is really bright and smart, figure skater at the national level, as well as the JV crew coxswain, feels she has to be perfect and work extra hard all her life to prove to herself that she is worthy to people around her and for herself to live on.
“I think that even though 99% of me believes that I was really placed, I think that somehow I can’t get rid of that 1%. I think there is definitely a part of me that wishes I never heard the word “Abandonment” effected my perfectionist tendencies and my fear of failure… I am always searching for ways to compensate for the fact that I’m a girl, and that for some reason, maybe I wasn’t good enough. In my learning I always try to be the best that I can to compensate for that initial abandonment and rejection.”
Haley, who grew up in Nashville, has been asking about her biological family since four, and she told one of her newly met fellow adoptee, “I will be looking for my birth parents till I am grey and winkle.” She had repeated go back to China, the city where she was left on the street in search of her birth parents, and against all odds, as she post up posters around town, a man came forward claiming to be her father. Haley became both excited and anxious and she prepares to face the chances of fulfilling her life long dream or false hope and disappointment. It became a roller-coaster ride in revealing her bitter history and story of her family.
Fang remembers vividly when she was abandoned by her brother at the age of 5, lives in Berkley. She is not really sure if she is really 15 right now, or whether her birthday is real. “My age is estimated, and when you are found on the street, they just make you as young as possibly can pass by, because the older you are, the less appealing it is.”
Her family in Berkley seem to help her to grow up to be very intelligent and self motivated. That is until her adopted parents went through a divorce, and the sense of abandonment revive again in her heart. It wasn’t until her trip with her adopted mother to China, where she sees a little girl, Run-Yi with cerebral palsy being left on the street, sat in a little wooden box by the foster family, telling whoever that passes by that this little girl is worthless, that she decided to come back to America and raised over $5000 to sent this little girl to an orphanage that offers physical therapy treatment as well as connecting her with an American family and find her a new home. It is only through this life changing connection with the little girl that Fang realized even though she was really unfortunate to be left on the street, but it is also because of this brokenness in herself that enables her to see others’ pain, especially girls who are in similar situations as herself, empowering them and being their role model in the process.
“Somewhere Between” is an amazingly touching film that explores the lives of the adoptee girls who were sent out of the country due to China’s One Child policy in its gender discriminations. A great reflection of what race, cross culture and identities means, as well as the rethink the impact and consequences of the One Child policy, and the relationship between biological and adopted family relations. It empowered each of the girls’ lives in using their own misfortunate and turn it into a blessing to others around her. It is extraordinary how these four girls grow up to advocate for woman and children’ rights where they are at today.
“No matter where I am in my life, I am always going to be somewhere in between.”
Don’t miss out on this spectacular film. Watch the full length film here