Never Done: Hosted a Living Room Adoption Film Festival
When I started Google searching films about adoption, the same ones kept popping up on the list: Secrets and Lies, My Own Private Idaho, Mommie Dearest. I adore the first two, and I've only ever seen clips from the third, but none of them was exactly what I was hoping to see at the festival. I wanted to see films that would scare me straight out of wanting to adopt a messed-up "older" child. I chose three.
Mother and Child: written and directed by the extremely talented Rodrigo Garcia, with an amazing cast (Annette Bening, Naomi Watts, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits, Shareeka Epps, and Cherry Jones as a Catholic nun in an adoption agency) playing characters whose lives intersect, all around themes of parenthood and adoption.
Lost and Delirious: Canadian lesbian boarding school adoption genre piece, complete with pillow fights, spiked punch, Shakespeare quotes, fencing, falcon training, the wise Native American man, closeted lesbian teachers, and tragic lesbian suicide. One of the main characters was adopted, and struggles so much against abandonment that it ends up pushing her over the edge. I watched it thinking, "OK, so what if she was my kid? What would I want for her? What would I do for her?" Also, I was completely distracted throughout this entire film because the girl she is in love with is played by Jessica Paré -- who plays Megan Calvet, Don Draper's secretary turned fiancée on Mad Men.
Second Best: William Hurt plays a lonely village postal worker (in England) who fosters and then adopts a troubled 10-year-old boy who reveres his messed-up outlaw incarcerated birth father. This film was the most realistic, I believe, in terms of the process one goes through in order to foster then adopt. Starting with a home visit, and then weekend visits, and then fostering, and then adopting -- all while unilaterally deciding to parent this child through his outbursts, regression, and self-harm.
I loved watching these films in community, with Josh, Heath, Abigail, Alex, and Beatrice. They all (the films, not the friends) made me cry, and they all made me realize that I am growing readier and readier through this process of adoption preparation. Which is to say that when one of my friends said she was afraid that James (the boy in Second Best) was a ticking time bomb, I realized that I was not afraid that he was; I knew he was. I knew he was going to tick and go off many times before his adolescence was over, and that it was just what William Hurt was going to expect, and stay steady for. And by extension, it is just what I will need to expect and stay steady for.