Beyond questions about possible inherited health conditions, if you love your adoptive parents, why would you search for “the originals”? We need to know about our parents to fully realize ourselves. I found myself trying to explain this recently. The next day, to my astonishment, along came a movie that explained it far better than I could.
My friend Nan (not her real name) and I found ourselves both shopping at Trader Joe’s and the conversation fell to writing. She finished her first novel and it was with a literary agent. I mentioned that my last book was The Goodbye Baby-A Diary about Adoption.
“My daughter was adopted,” Nan confided, “but she doesn’t want to find out who her birthparents were.” I expressed my belief that even if an adoptee does not want to upset people or herself (or himself), it is important to meet and learn about birthparents. Parents, originals or adoptive, can become “late” in the blink of an eye, and when they are gone, they will be gone forever. Having lost both my birth parents and my adoptive mom and dad, I know this all too well.
It makes sense to meet the parents, to know where you started out, to overcome inhibitions or old wounds and to adjust to whatever circumstances decided your fate. (As opposed to wishing for what might have been.)
Right after my encounter with Nan, I saw the movie “Philomena.” The movie is based on Martin Sixsmith’s account of a true story. Played by Judi Dench, Philomena is an Irish teenager who got pregnant out of wedlock. She was sent to live with nuns. The 16-year-old is forced to work and allowed, as were all the unwed mothers at the Abbey, to see her son for a mere hour a day. Without warning, the son is adopted (actually, sold) to a wealthy American couple. Fifty years later, she longs to find him. She meets Sixsmith (played by Steve Coogan) and through a series of events ends up being the topic of Sixsmith’s journalism assignment: a human interest story based on the birthmother’s story.
The two comprise a very odd couple as Sixsmith joins Philomena in a journey to America to locate the son she hopes to find. It turns out that the quest is too late. To not give everything away, I’ll say simply that you must see the movie to learn why. Philomena’s expression of profound grief at the end conveys a powerful message: Do not wait.
I hope my friend and her daughter will go to see this amazing portrayal of a true adoption story. Perhaps it will lead the daughter will change her mind about searching for her birthmother. That said, Philomena should be a must-see for adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, and anyone who enjoys a wonderful, beautifully-crafted film.