I decided to make Unlocking the Heart of Adoption to
challenge this assumption by providing a window into the deeper feelings of adoptees,
birthparents and adoptive parents to shed light on the impact of adoption on their lives.
It is my intention to create greater understanding and compassion for the emotional and
familial complexities of the lifelong process of adoption. These stories will resonate for
inter-country and foster care families, as well.
As a birthmother, I describe my experience and interweave the
stories of women and men, adoptees, birthparents and adoptive parents in same race and
transracial adoptions. Unlocking the Heart of Adoption follows their path of
relinquishment, adoption, growing up adopted, raising an adopted child, years of silence
and shame, and searching for answers to unasked questions. The people in the film
tell their stories with courage, honesty and humor. My realization about the impact
of social forces on my own life leads to self-forgiveness.
The stories in the film are told again the historic backdrop of adoption in America
narrated by Helen Hill. Archival footage illustrates the Orphan Trains Era
1856-1929, the beginning of the sealing of adoption records in the 1930s, the
practice of open adoptions initiated in the 1980s, and the current civil rights
struggle for adult adoptees to obtain their original birth certificate. In 1998,
Helen was chief petitioner for ballot Measure 58 in Oregon. This landmark legislation
passed giving adult adoptees in Oregon unconditional access to their original birth
My artistic background is in the visual arts and sculpture.
Throughout the film, as I tell my story, I construct a life-size sculpture of a mother
holding her baby in a hospital bed using chicken wire, bamboo, burlap and plaster. Unlocking
the Heart of Adoption is my first film.