A couple months ago I interviewed my friend Christopher Wilson about the making of his Documentary “You Have His Eyes.” Now he has taken the film and showcased it at several film festivals where it has done very well. No surprise there. He then allowed me to interview his adoptive mom and get her take on her son’s amazing film. This is her take on it as follows:
Terri Wilson: My son, Christopher Thomas Wilson, just completed a documentary film about his search for his birth father, Lionel, called “You Have His Eyes.”
Due to his curiosity and desire to know of his birth heritage, I had implemented a search and had located his wonderful birth mother Neomi a few years before he decided to pursue this journey. She and Lionel had not stayed together, and in fact, Neomi had not been in touch with Lionel since shortly after Chris’ birth.
Chris was grateful that he now had a relationship with Neomi and grateful that he had been raised in a family who loved and cherished him.
As he moved further into his 20’s, however, he could not stop the nagging questions, the wondering, the need to know who his birth father was and what had become of him.
As he travels to places where he might find answers, with the help of Neomi as well as many others, he discovers family members that he didn’t know existed, as well as painful truths that include mental illness, sexual abuse/incest, and hard choices that had to be made by those closest to his birth father.
This film is an important tool that gives hope through a message of staying the course and not giving up until every lead has been exhausted while being prepared to face the realities that not all searches turn out to have “warm and fuzzy” endings.
The documentary will bring up the good and bad facets of adoption, the frustration of mental illness gone untreated, and the unfortunate, widespread incidents of sexual abuse that children suffer every day throughout the world.
As Chris’s adoptive mother, some people have asked how I felt about him finding his birth family, and if we, his father and I, felt at all threatened or jealous of the fact that Chris’s “other mom” was now in the picture.
In answer to those inquiries, I must say that had Chris exhibited the same need and nagging wonder to know where his roots began at an earlier age, rather than the normal curiosity he experienced as a boy, I would have definitely felt more threatened or perhaps “jealous” of the idea of another mother in my son’s life. However, he was already in college before the need to know became apparent.
It was this “need to know” that prompted me to join a website dedicated to those searching for birth families. Not too long after I posted my inquiry, a kind lady answered my post saying that she may be able to help. She had access to the Florida Driver’s License database through her work, and told me that if my son’s birth mother was in Florida, she might possibly be able to find her.
Unfortunately, all I had was her first name. When we adopted Chris, it was considered an “open adoption” in which prospective birth parents meet the birth mother on a first-name basis only. We would be able to send the birth mother pictures and letters through the agency only, and she could write us as well, with the agency being the liaison. This all took place in our home state, Florida.
Unfortunately, the agency closed due to some controversy going on in the main offices in Atlanta, thereby cutting off all contact between my husband and I and Chris’s birth mother.
I had told the lady who was trying to help me that I only knew that his birth mom’s first name was Neomi, spelled this way, rather than Naomi. Unbelievably, she was able to pull up a couple of Neomis in the data base, one with the middle name of Katrina. The name Katrina immediate sounded familiar as I remembered a form she had filled out for the agency. I thanked this Good Samaritan profusely, telling her that I was almost certain this was the right Neomi.
I wrote a letter to Neomi, telling her who I was, giving Chris’s birth date, and asking her to email or write to me if she was, in fact Chris’s birth mom.
I received an email a few days later from an excited Neomi, with a picture I had sent of Chris before the agency had closed, confirming that she was indeed Chris’s birth mother!
She and Chris met soon after in a private setting, and later on, we all got to meet Neomi. She is an active part of Chris’s life today.
Over time, we learned of the difficult and lonely road Neomi traveled to come to the success she now enjoys in her life. It is a story of survival, strength, loss, and the immensely hard sacrifices she had to endure to overcome extreme poverty, abuse, and betrayal.
In the film, Chris chronicles some of Neomi’s own journey as he documents, with so little to go on, his frustrating search for Lionel.
No one could have predicted the outcome of his search, the people he would meet, or the truths he would learn which would bring part joy, part sadness, and the discovery that choices we make in our lives as well as those made by others over which we have no control, can have far reaching effects so as to alter the lives of others dramatically.