This film was mentioned on another forum:
[url=http://onthefaultline.com/]Living on the Fault Line, Where Race And Family Meet - A New Film about Transracial Adoption[/url]
From the film's website:
Living on the Fault Line: Where Race and Family Meet is a documentary film that explores the intersection where family love meets racial injustice in the experience of transracial families created through adoption. An honest open-hearted look at race in America, it is an intimate portrait that reveals the challenges transracial families face as children of color grow up in communities where racial discrimination, stereotyping and white privilege are often unspoken and undeniable realities.
Shot in a naturalistic style, Living on the Fault Line profiles nine families telling the untold story of transracial adoption, revealing the complex, challenging and emotional costs of racial discrimination brought into the privacy of the family. Inherent in the film's content is an examination of racial identity development, of the habituated misconceptions of "race" and of the damaging effects of white privilege.
Running Time: 78 minutes
Cost: $24.95
I watched the film and here are my reactions. Even though it's not going to win any awards for cinematography or directing, I think it's a valuable resource, especially for adoption agencies doing education with prospective adoptive parents. (In fact, I'm going to forward information about it to the agency we used.) I think it's particularly good at:
- Getting prospective/adoptive parents to think beyond the cute baby/toddler/preschool years. There are a parents in the film who talk about how when their children were little it was easy for everyone to be delighted with the "cute babies" but as their children get older (especially for the boys) the public reactions to them are very different and that as parents they have to be prepared for helping their children deal with the racism they will encounter. There are some nice quotes where they juxtapose the initial worries of a new parent (who is getting up at night for the midnight feeding, how to pay the bills, who is going to change the diaper, etc.) with what they have to think about when their children are older (individual racism in the schools, racial profiling, etc.). The film embodies the differences insofar as the parents of younger children talk at a much simpler level about the potential issues than the parents of teenagers and young adults who have experienced far more of the complexities of being a transracial family.
- Defining white privilege. While this wasn't new for me, I think the section that is very much about white privilege is a good introduction for white prospective adoptive parents who haven't done anti-racism work/education and may be completely blind to their privilege. I think it does a far better job at that than anythign we got in our homestudy preparation and pre-adoption training. And the fact that the message is largely coming from white adoptive parents makes it easier, I think, for someone to hear who has never thought about this type of issue. Many of the parents talked about their awareness of their own whiteness and how that awareness has increased and changed in the process of raising their children.
- Giving voice to adoptees. I liked the fact that there were quite a few adoptees who spoke about their experiences. The oldest was 27 years old, but there were other younger adults and teenagers as well who spoke. I think that is so valuable.
- Illustrating the juxtaposition. I think the film, simply by the juxtaposition of the images and some of the issues they were talking about, does a good job of illustrating the odd combination we and our children live of simply being everyday families who are having fun together, doing chores together, going to soccer games, etc. with the more complex issues that we and our children face. I know that sometimes I'm very aware myself of how my family life seems so normal to me, yet then realizing that there are ways we are so different from other families. I think the film, even without trying to, captures that well. It also provides a nice balance, I think, when doing pre-adoption education. It raises lots of serious issues in a way that some people might think twice about adopting transracially and may decide that it's not something they are prepared to do, yet it doesn't present it all as doom and gloom. You do see happy children and happy families and at the same time you see how they have to deal with issues that others do not.
A couple of points and quotes that stood out to me:
- One parent talked about how she thinks they are the "third best family" for her son -- the first best being if he had been able to be raised by his first family, the second best if he had been able to be raised by an African American family, and their family being the third best. I think it's a powerful statement from a parent who clearly loves her child -- and coming from an adoptive parent I think that some people will listen to it who otehrwise might respond with "love is enough" if it had been said by soemone who wasn't an adoptive parent. I also like how it doesn't mean that they aren't a good family -- the word "best" is still in there.
- Another parent stressed how it's important not to think just about what I as a parent want, but about "what we are asking of these children". I thought that was another powerful reminder of needing to look at transracial adoption not just from the lens of wanting to parent, but recognizing what it means for our children and that we are imposing a burden (for lack of a better word) on them. Again, it doesn't mean it's bad or that it's not a good thing to do -- but we need to recognize what we are asking of them.
- Another parent said something that really stood out to me -- "Our children will wrestle with race in some way no matter where they are." I did not take the comment as dismissing the concerns about white parents parenting children of color. Rather, it's a recognition that racism is something they will have to deal with no matter what family they are a part of -- adoption doesn't create the racism, but it may create additional challenges in dealing with the racism. Some professionals in the film also, I think, clearly articulate the concerns about white parents not being as well equipped to teach a child of color about how to survive and thrive in a racist world. It doesn't come across to me as "transracial adoption shouldn't happen", but as a caution to parents about where our limitations lie in meeting our children's needs. I think the more I'm aware of my limitations the better I can try to supplement or compensate for them, whereas if I was oblivious of my limitations then the chances of my child's needs being met decrease.
- In general, I liked the emphasis on the social realities and social systems -- the issues of racism aren't about individuals but about our society.
So, in short, I think it's a great education tool to use with prospective adoptive parents. Its pacing is a bit slow, but still a valuable resource. Personally, I'll probably use it in the future when I teach about racism because I think the perspective is different enough from what people are used to talking about when they talk about racism that it might help to illuminate issues and realities that otherwise white people would be blinded to. As an adoptive parent I got less out of it, but I think that's just because I've already read about and thought about these issues a lot for many years. But I think in pre-adoption education it could really help to open a lot of people's eyes and get them to think deeply ahead of time.
Even though my reactions are mostly about how it can be used in pre-adoption training, I did still get something personally out of watching it. What I got out of it is a little harder to explain, but it did give me another lens with which to look at raising my son and what he might experience. I think having that lens will make me that much more aware of and able to see issues when they arise. It's also made me that much more confident in my ability to parent my son in this regard.
I'm interested to hear what anyone else thinks who sees the film.
I appreciate your taking the time to share this wonderful resource with the forum. I hadn't heard of it but will be ordering a copy asap. Your comments and insight about the film were also very helpful. I second the idea that more should be done toward educating us prior to entering a transracial adoption. I had ZERO training from my agency and I'm learning just how little preparation is offered by many agencies. (A one day course or a few pamphlets is NOT training - IMHO!)
Again, thanks for the info. I think it will be required viewing including extended family.
km
Thanks for posting about the video. I'm going to purchase it, and will let you know what I think after I watch it. I'm very interested in learning more about transracial adoption, and agree that teaching our children about the racism that they will face one day is extremely important. Not sure if you have ever heard of the "Antiracist Parent" web site. Here's a link to the site. Lots of interesting articles, etc.
[url=http://www.antiracistparent.com/]Anti-Racist Parent - for parents committed to raising children with an anti-racist outlook[/url]
Best wishes! :hippie:
Yes, the Antiracist Parent site a very good source for different perspectives. I don't read it as often as I should, but every time I do it gives me something more to think about!