Finished everything in your Netflix queue and wondering what to watch next? Consider making time for one (or all) of these fascinating documentaries on adoption, available for online streaming!
Each one tackles a different aspect of adoption, but all three are valuable viewing for potential or current adoptive parents.
Are there any others you would add to this list?
Angela Tucker is an adult transracial adoptee raised in a multi-racial family by white parents. Directed by her husband, filmmaker Bryan Tucker, Closure follows Angela as she journeys to search for and meet her biological family members. This emotional process spans two years during the film, and much time is devoted to the complexities involved in transracial adoption—that is, the adoption of a child from one race into a family of a different race.
Why I enjoyed it: Angela was adopted in a closed adoption via foster care, and this is a search for her roots and her culture. As an adoptive parent with two open adoptions, it was incredibly valuable listening to an adult adoptee’s perspective on the importance of information for adoptees. You can learn more about Angela on her website, The Adopted Life.
The Dark Matter of Love (2012)
This documentary follows the Diaz family of Wisconsin, who adopt three children from a Russian orphanage. Despite their rosy expectations, the Diaz family quickly encounters the reality of raising young children who have grown up in institutional care. They are baffled by behavior issues and struggle to bond with and earn the trust of their children.
Mr. and Mrs. Diaz begin an individualized family therapy program guided by two renowned developmental psychologists in an attempt to understand the affect that institutionalization has on a developing child’s brain and create a family environment that facilitates love and bonding.
Why I enjoyed it: The Dark Matter of Love does not shy away from the difficult reality of parenting children from hard places. The Diaz parents make many mistakes, and the emotional fallout can be heartbreaking to watch. The family had one biological daughter prior to adopting, and viewers receive insight into her experience with her new siblings. The scientific aspect of child development and the developing brain is fascinating, and valuable information for adoptive parents.
Stuck follows the stories of four children from three separate countries, and the emotional journey their American adoptive families walk to bring these children home. Intended as a testament to the overly complicated international adoption process fraught with red tape and unpredictability, Stuck lives up to its name as viewers follow the many roadblocks these families encounter. Despite already being matched with families, each adoption process continues to drag out at painfully slow speeds while the children remain in their respective orphanages.
Why I enjoyed it: I found Stuck to be an interesting watch and certainly emotional. I think we all agree that children belong in families, and it is heartbreaking seeing children continue to live in institutional care instead of in a home with loving parents.
Most of all, I think Stuck is one piece of a broader conversation regarding international adoptions, and tells one side of the story—that is, the often frustrating and heartbreaking process for families to adopt internationally, as their children wait. However, adoption is not the only solution for children and the system is fraught with abuses and issues of its own. I suggest that viewing of the documentary Stuck be done with supplemental information on international adoption ethics, the existence of “poverty orphans” and orphan voluntourism, and the ways in which we can support in-country family preservation first.
How you can watch: As of the time I am writing, Stuck is available for streaming on Netflix. It is also available online for purchase or rental.