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Letters to the Editor

Film offends

February 20, 2008

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To the editor:

As a mother who lost a child to adoption, I am offended and appalled that the award-winning film "Juno" makes light of a serious issue and will foster myths of adoption.

As the film depicts, those adopting almost always have legal counsel, while those suffering a grievous loss do not. The playing field is very uneven to begin with, and surrendering places mothers in a powerless and socially disfavored position.

The film ends where the reality of Juno's loss begins.

My personal experience confirms what studies have found: that mothers who lose children to adoption suffer traumatic stress disorder and are at risk for long-term physical, psychological and social repercussions. Additionally, surrendering a child for adoption leaves women with a disproportionate rate of secondary infertility.

I am a member of Origins-USA.org, a national organization representing mothers who lost children to adoption, which is opposed to the message of this film and which offers support to mothers who have, or are considering, the adoption of their child.

The film is a sad commentary on intergenerational familial breakdown beginning with Juno's abandonment by her mother. It has a potential danger of being seen as a happily-ever-after scenario.

Karen L. Dawber,
Lawrence

Comments

Karen Dawber 6 years, 1 month ago

The comments from the public after this article graphically show the cruelty and hatred directed at birthmothers who dare to speak up. This needs to change if adoption is to be an honest and healthy institution that honors all, including birthparents. Movies like Juno are a step backwards in real understanding of a traumatic experience in the lives of many young women. Giving up a child is a painful experience with life-long consequences for all involved. Sometimes it is necessary, many times it was not.

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Adoptionisbeautiful 6 years, 1 month ago

I personally have three adopted children and I have very open and loving relationships with their birth parents. Our families visit, exchange kids for overnights, vacation, and spend much time together. I agree that adoption is never easy, but it can be special. I think it all depends upon the amount of openness you have and the lack of fear, on both sides, determines how each person will come through the experience. My kid's birth families have each expressed their feelings and are very happy with the choices they've made. They love our family, they love the child they've placed and they feel it was the best decision they could make in the time of their crisis. This movie shows just that. Juno was in a place where she was not willing to parent, and she reached out to an open relationship with a family she felt bonded to. The beauty is, as with many open adoptions, Juno will be able to know the child as he grows and won't be left with a heart full of uncertainty and unanswered questions.

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amom 6 years, 1 month ago

As an adoptive mother, I would like to say that adoption should be a very last resort. No mother should be coerced into relinquishing her child. It may not happen as often in the US currently, but it happens in poor countries all the time. Too often, adoption is about the strong taking from the weak.

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nene 6 years, 1 month ago

My sister and her husband have a beautiful family and all their children are from adoption. They have raised their children knowing their adoptive roots and have had a chest made for each, filled with photos of their birth and a letter from the birth mother (and sometimes father). Just recently, they located one of their children's birth father and gently offered to set up a visit if he wished. It has meant so much to this man and their child, knowing that the baby in his past is a happy, secure and contented young adult. Because my sister and her husband have been open, there is not a doubt in any of these young one's minds that they are loved by so many people, beginning first with their adoptive parents.

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coolmarv 6 years, 1 month ago

offtotheright (Anonymous) says:

Are you addressing the post at 11:36pm? If so I am not sure what you are refering to.

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offtotheright 6 years, 1 month ago

Respect life! I don't want to hear any whining about how you were forced to give up your child. You were big enough/old enough/ and thought you were mature enough to have a child, it was YOUR responsibility to take care of it! If you were not able, it was your cowardly parents responsibility!

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beatrice 6 years, 1 month ago

See Juno. Excellent film, very funny, charming, witty, and well done on all levels. I loved it.

Would the writer have preferred an abortion in this scenario? Ugh.

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coolmarv 6 years, 1 month ago

Here is one of those "wonderful pro-life friends" telling scenebooster to kiss my pro-life ass.

Respect Life!

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scenebooster 6 years, 1 month ago

"Where are all our wonderful pro-life friends? This is the second "adoption" item in as many weeks, and the wonderful pro-life folks never said a single word in defense of adoption."

Are you really surprised? That crowd cares a lot less about the actual children involved than it does advancing its religious doctrine.

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Karen Dawber 6 years, 1 month ago

The fuss is what it is all about here. Making people pay attention to how easily we can let the Hollywood film fantasy message about the win-win result of adoption pacify our minds so we don't have to think about it. Adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Kinshipcare and guardianship are much better alternatives. Single women who are mothers are disfavored by the public still. Yes, as a member of Origins-USA I chose to use their sample letter. It's getting the very unpopular, unprofitable message out that there are alternatives to adoption that the public hates to wrap their minds around.

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Drew_Carey 6 years, 1 month ago

0 points for Sourpuss. This is a first. Sourpuss clearly needs to be knocked around in life for a few years before posting on the subject again.

500 pts for JG, for knowing better and saying so.

Another 0 pts to Karen, for copying someone else's letter and causing such a fuss.

500 pts to Manny for finding the source.

And 100 pts for everyone else who's been through this and posted, and also to those with compassion.

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supertrampofkansas 6 years, 1 month ago

unclemonkey,

If you read the earlier comment by Manny on the blog, you will see that he provides a website that shows that this letter was not written by Karen Dawber. My guess is that Karen was referring to her own opinion of the movie not realizing that it contradicts the "copied" letter she posted.

As Manny respectfully says, it might have been better to hear about the author's own experience and opinions rather than the form letter she submitted.

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unklemonkey 6 years, 1 month ago

"I am offended and appalled that the award-winning film "Juno" makes light of a serious issue and will foster myths of adoption."

And, yet:

"I was not offend by the film. I enjoyed the film. It was well acted, scripted and the soundtrack was great. The news reporter inaccurately labeld my letter as 'Film Offends'."

Huh.

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HollyWood 6 years, 1 month ago

I had feelings similar to the author's when I first heard about this film: a light-hearted comedy about a woman losing her child.

I surrendered my only son to adoption many years ago - I've never felt that there was anything humorous about it. It was a tragic event in my life and one that did not have to happen.

The reason that the film's message bothers me is that I think there will be young women out there who find themselves pregnant and will think it is hip or cool to follow in the footsteps of this young woman. (I would have the same reaction to light-hearted comedies about teen drug abuse.)

I am disheartened to see the level of ignorance about adoption and the history of adoption. There have been many women who did not have a choice to keep their child. There have been and still are MANY mothers who've been coerced into surrendering their child. I am not very hopeful for Americans - they seem to have such little empathy for one another.

Why people feel it is necessary to attack a person who speaks up and writes about an experience that profoundly affects her is beyond me. It seems that people would have their Hollywood entertainment at any price. The loss of natural family preservation as a value in America comes with a price: generations of broken families. Who knows what the consequences of that will be.

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Fatty_McButterpants 6 years, 1 month ago

"As a mother who lost a child to adoption, I am offended and appalled that the award-winning film "Juno" makes light of a serious issue and will foster myths of adoption." (the above is excerpted from the first para. of the letter)

"I was not offend by the film. I enjoyed the film. It was well acted, scripted and the soundtrack was great. The news reporter inaccurately labeld my letter as 'Film Offends'." (the above is excerpted from the posting of the letter's author) Karen, your two statements do not make any sense! The first paragraph of your letter states that you were "offended and appalled" that JUNO makes light of adoption. The entire movie was about that issue, therefore, it follows that you were offended by the movie. That's like saying that you hate Paris Hilton and everything she's about, but you love her music. Which is it?

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nettieb 6 years, 1 month ago

I freakin' love that movie.

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Agnostick 6 years, 1 month ago

Where are all our wonderful pro-life friends? This is the second "adoption" item in as many weeks, and the wonderful pro-life folks never said a single word in defense of adoption.

Anyways, I just wanted to recommed the movie below. This documentary is, quite arguably, one of the most shocking, pulse-quickening, gut-wrenching, heart-rending views of abortion and adoption in America. This will give you something to think about for weeks after you see it.

This is even more accurate than "real life"...

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115906/

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Manny 6 years, 1 month ago

I have been thinking about this letter to the editor all day. I am so sorry for what the author has been through. I empathize with her.

I wasn't sure of the meaning of the sentence "Additionally, surrendering a child for adoption leaves women with a disproportionate rate of secondary infertility" so I Googled it when I got home to see if I could get more information.

The Origins-USA Blog popped up at http://secondchancemother.blogspot.com/2008/02/origins-usa-action-alert.html

This letter to the editor was copied directly from the Blog as "sample facts" that a letter to the editor might include. The only obvious words missing are the citations.

By the way, it is not unreasonable that an editor would title the letter "Film offends" when the letter opens with the clause, "I am offended."

While I appreciate the author's intent, I also value sincerity. I would like to hear your feelings in your own words. Your feelings are valid. You have a mind, and you should speak it rather than using recycled words from this group.

I would still like to know more about this disproportionate rate of secondary infertility, which can occur with anyone who has had a child. (My spouse and I are experiencing it right now.) What is the significance with birth mothers who have given their children up for adoption?

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unklemonkey 6 years, 1 month ago

Acg, nettieb, I agree wholeheartedly. Karen, I'm assuming that you knew before visiting the movie theaters that Juno is a film about a girl giving up her baby for adoption. If you've been in a situation before in which you had to give up your child for adoption, it probably isn't so hard to imagine a COMEDY film about precisely that issue offending you by some stretch of the imagination. As shown in the movie, Juno was very positive and just wanted to get the whole thing over with. Judging by your letter, I'm guessing you didn't want to just "get it over with." You also did not mention how old you were when this happened. Juno was 16 in the film. As a teenager, it is hard to carry on your daily life with a baby. Therefore, it's completely understandable for Juno to want to get rid of the bulging stomach as quickly and painlessly (mentally speaking) as possible.

Lighten up and quit whining. Like acg pointed out, there are other much more serious problems, such as, for example, the upcoming election. Spend your time writing a letter about who you want to be president and why, not a six-paragraph whining commentary about a COMEDY film.

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J Good Good 6 years, 1 month ago

"I'm sorry, but no one could force me to give up a child I did not want to give up, period. So in the end, the adoption was not "forced" on you, you accepted it. Unless you are a serious druggie or have mental problems, I don't see how a child could be adopted out without permission."

Really? I think you lack imagination.

If you were a fifteen year old dependent with no means to support yourself and were told by your parents you have to give your baby up for adoption, you would be able to just set off on your own with your baby and all would be well? Don't kid yourself. It may not happen much today, but it is not a stretch that it happened a great deal in the past.

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kugrad 6 years, 1 month ago

nettieb, bravo, well said!

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workinghard 6 years, 1 month ago

Just a note, there are open adoptions, though not common. I know an adoptive couple that has done this and the girl is now about 6. They have not had any problems, the child meets with her biological mother a couple of times a year, and regular pictures and updates are sent to the mother. But this is not for everyone. There are many adopted people that have reunited with birth parents, some work out and some don't, in which case the adoptee knows they were better off adopted. Not all adopted parents turn out good and should never been allowed to adopt, but this is not the norm. I have known many adoptees and the only one that had a bad experience was a ten year old whose father had died a few years before. Two years later he found out he was adopted and his beloved father wasn't his father. He cried for days while clutching his father's picture. Obviously this was back when children were not told they were adopted, as if it was something to be ashamed of. Thankfully things have changed. Each adoption is unique for both parties. I hope that conseling is required for all parents placing their child up for adoption, if it's not it should be. Let's all be thankful that times have changed women hopefully no longer will have to feel they have to give up their babies or have abortions.

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ChristmasCarol 6 years, 1 month ago

While we are at it. I find that the film called CSA:(whatever) Confederate States of America was absolutely offensive.

NOt only was Marvin a horrible director but insane about the stigmas and fantasies of the history of this town. It stigmatized not only the Confederacy but the reasons for the war in the first place but also black people... oh wait.

I think it was an abomination.

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Confrontation 6 years, 1 month ago

Yet another reason to hand out free condoms and birth control in the schools.

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mriley 6 years, 1 month ago

I worked as an adoption social worker for many years- with both birth mothers and adoptive families. Although I cannot personally speak to the experience of placing a child for adoption, adopting or being adopted, I can speak to the many conversations I had with people on all sides of the adoption triangle.

It is true that adoption was not regulated for many years and as a consequence, many birth mothers, adoptive parents and adopted children were not treated justly. However, today the regulations on adoption agencies and state-to-state adoption laws are very, very strict. This is indeed to protect birth mothers and adoptive parents from unscrupulous individuals wishing to take advantage of people in (what might be considered) the most intense emotional rollercoaster imaginable.

If you or someone you love is considering adoption (either placing a child or adopting a child), I would recommend taking your time to research the professionals you work with. A quality, licensed agency should provide information about all your options and help you choose what option is best for you. For birth mothers, they should help you feel in control of your situation and provide you substantial legal counsel. For adoptive parents, they should educate you on the realistic expectations of adoption, and again, provide legal counsel. For all parties involved, they should provide you options for future support (support groups, counseling, follow up contact, etc) after you sign your adoption paperwork, as that is when the healing begins-on all three sides of the triangle. Then, it is up to you to take advantage of these opportunities, take healing into your own hands and pursue your emotional health.

Adoption is easily misunderstood, as unless you have "been there" you cannot truly understand how it feels... not to mention that everyone has a different personal experience. It's true that some birth mothers struggle to heal and move on. But there are many who believe that adoption for their child is the best parenting choice they could have made. If done carefully and followed up with assistance and healthy processing, adoption can be a positive life experience for all parties.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 1 month ago

What about the Orphan Train movement. The belief that the kids would come West to better homes fresh air didn't always work. Many ended up being workhorses and the lucky few got to be part of a family. However, some were taken by the same process now that the Social Welfare workers perpetuate, the keeping of their job!

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jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

While it is tragic that many young women have been coerced into giving away their children by families, etc., I think the message of the movie Juno was in essence a positive one.

Juno and her parents could have gotten a lawyer but chose not to. Rather than have an abortion or try to raise a child before she was ready, she chose to find a family who wanted to have children but were unable to do so.

My understanding of current adoption regulations is that the adoptive family can pay for all expenses, etc. and that the mother has the chance to change her mind (even at the last minute). Far from being unfair to the mother, this seems unfair to the adoptive parents.

The movie also showed that it was painful for Juno to give her child away, but somehow it seemed like the best choice at the time. The adoptive family was open to an open adoption (in which the birth mother has continued contact with the child), but Juno chose a closed one.

Her seemingly superficial attitudes throughout the movie seemed to me to be a reflection of what people are like when they are that age.

To my mind, adoption of unwanted children is a better alternative than abortion or having children before one is ready to care for them, and the movie showed a young woman making a series of difficult, but good, decisions.

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sourpuss 6 years, 2 months ago

Ultimately, you should always do what you know in your heart to be right. If you let people bully you into doing things you do not want to do, then you need to re-examine why you are friends/family with those who care more about themselves and their "reputations" than yours. I'm sorry, but no one could force me to give up a child I did not want to give up, period. So in the end, the adoption was not "forced" on you, you accepted it. Unless you are a serious druggie or have mental problems, I don't see how a child could be adopted out without permission.

Also, if you did lose a child to adoption, then go fight to have a relationship with that child you lost! Just because you did not raise them does not mean you cannot forge a wonderful relationship later in life. But sitting around feeling sorry for yourself and feeling like a victim in life is no way to live.

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scenebooster 6 years, 2 months ago

Um, so now every film produced must provide insight and resolution to every single avenue and point of view for all topics?

This is an unreasoned and fairly pointless letter.

Either skip the film, or make your own.

But quit whining.

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mom_of_three 6 years, 2 months ago

There are several scenarios for adoption, and the movie "Juno" just showed one of them.
The letter writer can have her opinion, and her emotions are totally justified.
But just because the movie showed adoptions in a different light other than her own doesn't mean the movie sent the wrong message about adoptions. Not everyone who gives their child up for adoption feels the same loss as a mother who was forced to give her child up.

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Karen Dawber 6 years, 2 months ago

I was not offend by the film. I enjoyed the film. It was well acted, scripted and the soundtrack was great. The news reporter inaccurately labeld my letter as "Film Offends". My alert was to the public to not be fooled by the message of this movie that adoption has no long term consequences. I am very blessed to have found my relenquished son. I was coerced into relenquishing him however. Given the hidden history of 5-6 million other mothers like myself during the baby scoop era before women's liberation and Roe v. Wade, my letter to the editor was to alert the public that adoption is an unregulated industry which has annual profits in the billions and a lobby group-the National Council for Adoption which is still using coercive tactics. Women are still vulnerable to having society place them in a disfavored light especially if the are young and single. As a reviewer of the Ann Fessler novel, The Girls Who Went Away, Caroly McConnel states "There has been talk lately of how the physical and psychological wounds of the thousands returning from combat in Iraq will shape our society; how are the hurts of several generations of women who surrendered their babies shaping it even now?"

Check out her review at: http://www.powells.com/review/2008_02_17?utm_source=review-a-day&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=rad_20080217&utm_content=View%20as%20Web%20Page

I am very blessed to have my first son in my life now along with my grandsons. Natural family preservation should be the first consideration when an infant or child is at risk and adoption should only be a last resort.

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paavopetie 6 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, if you had actually seen the movie you would have known that Juno voluntarily gave up her child for adoption. She knew she wasn't ready to raise a child yet. Furthermore, she knew she was giving the baby up to a better home.

This is not to take away from mothers who were forced to give their child away to adoption. But to compare this movie to those situations is a gross display of ignorance.

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Ronda Miller 6 years, 2 months ago

multi, I agree with your statement. When I was in high school we knew of a couple of girls from very nice famlies who got pregnant by their "steady" guy. Often they were sent off to a "relatives" home for a year and came back unpregnant - without child. We didn't really discuss what we knew had occurred, but I am sure a lot of these women (and their "steady" guy) still grieve having to give the baby they loved away.

As far as not cutting the writer of this letter to the editor any slack about the movie, try putting yourself into her shoes and her emotions before you pass judgement on her.

I agree that the movie made light of adoption, causual sex - without use of protection - and wasn't that great of a movie. Each to their own when it comes to opinions about movies, but respect what this woman has lived with for who knows how many years.

Thanks for the letter, Karen.

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trinity 6 years, 2 months ago

bravo, acg-well said. i concur.

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acg 6 years, 2 months ago

I also think that if you find the movie Juno offensive then the easiest way for you to remedy that situation is don't watch it! What has happened to people? They're always running around offended and acting as if the rest of us give a crap because they are. I know this sounds harsh but people, come on, suck it up already and stop your whining about everything. Suicide bombers are blowing people up in the streets, little babies are starving to death in third world countries, women are having their genitals mutiliated in some places and this little movie about some girl giving her kid up for adoption is what offends you, seriously? Ugh.

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jonas 6 years, 2 months ago

"merrill (Anonymous) says:

Forced adoption has a tremendous has a tremendous emotional impact on most women:

Then again so does abortion."

Unprepared pregnancy, and all its offshoots, has a tremendous impact on most women. No need to break it into sub-categories.

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nettieb 6 years, 2 months ago

First off: Lighten the hell up. Juno is a delightful movie and if it offends you, you need to get over yourself.

Second: Since ever premise of every movie has some element of truth to it, exactly what movies do you find acceptable? I'm sure alien abductees were offended by War of the Worlds and any of John Wayne Gacy's victims' families were offended by Killer Clowns from Outer Space... regardless of what the message of the movie really was.

Third: No one said that this writer was "forced" to give up her child. I also gave up a child for adoption when I was younger, and while I also grieve for him and wish every day of my life that it would have turned out differently, I am not so arrogant as to believe that every bit of media regarding the subject is directed specifically at me.

Sounds like you need a few laughs in your life. May I suggest watching the movie "Juno". Its really a good movie.

Whiner.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

Forced adoption has a tremendous has a tremendous emotional impact on most women...

Then again so does abortion.

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Multidisciplinary 6 years, 2 months ago

Oh NO. She's right on. And she has her facts right. Younger generations think of a hippie mom giving a child away because they were young, etc. The "older" truth of the matter is, unwed mothers were forced by their parents, to submit to adoption, as raising the child themselves was socially UNACCEPTABLE. The whole family would suffer, so they made the girls give them up. And Catholic unwed mothers were "horrible sinners" it mattered not their situation, the child HAD TO GO. I had friends, childhood sweethearts, both Catholic, that concieved a child. They were 17 and 18. They were deeply and religiously in love, not just a passing thing. But they were forced to give the child up, and they were brainwashed to agree they were doing the right thing in the eyes of God and Church. They married a few months after the child was born, and are still together 30 yrs later. They both grieve terribly for their lost child. So the writer saying mothers "lose" children to adoption are right. Similar to the women who's family/husband forces them to have an abortion. They feel it all their lives.

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oneflewover 6 years, 2 months ago

WTF? This lady has one heck of an inbalance.

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justforfun 6 years, 2 months ago

"As a mother who lost a child to adoption" How does this happen? Somebody help!! "My personal experience confirms what studies have found: that mothers who lose children to adoption" What? Just for no reason?

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