Monday, January 28, 2008

Juno

As painful as it was for this adoptee to watch, I actually liked Juno.

I liked it because it was a big fat reminder of what adoption actually is: a solution for a girl/woman who does not want a baby and the people who want one. (Clarification based on Anonymous comments: I am not talking about young women who were coerced or tricked into signing over their babies).

The baby is just a big bump. Something that gives her heartburn but not heartache. A moving image on an ultrasound that moves the stepmother, but never stirs Juno enough to rethink her decision. Once Juno has made up her mind to give away her baby, she emotionally detaches. She cracks witty jokes. She's fixed on an old-school Closed Adoption and has no interest in updates or pictures. She's determined to hand over the kid and get it behind her. Sure she rubs her belly with a flower, but she spends more time burning CDs than wallowing in angst ridden moments.

So why do I like Juno?

Because there was some truth in it. Some ugly, harsh truth.

Juno reminds me of my own mother. Ever cheerful, determined on her plan of adoption from the first and emotionally detached. Like Juno, my mother also never wanted to see me. She, "didn't want to get attached."

I liked it because it confirmed that society sees adoption as a nifty solution, with little or no thought to what that separation will mean for the baby.

Yeah, don't get bent out of shape because, "it's just a comedy," some will argue. Well, it wouldn't be funny if it didn't ring-a-ding true. (What did not ring true is Juno as a 16-year old. As my own teenager pointed out, teenagers don't talk or act like that and my daughter just wasn't buying Juno as authentic.)

In Juno, the institution of adoption is only vaguely about the child. It's about a transaction. It's about what is being transferred and the comedy that ensues. As Juno's stepmother points out, the adoptive parents could even be worse than her loser stepdaughter. They could be abusive. And while this is oh-so-true, it never gives Juno any real pause or concern. It's a movie about a pregnant girl, after all. Not what will happen to her baby. The movie ends with Juno and her boyfriend singing together, happily. Without the baby. Problem solved. That's what adoption is for everybody else.

What happens afterward is another movie.

What happens afterward is what we adoptees have to live with the rest of our lives.

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29 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Juno does not speak for many mothers who were coerced out of the children they wanted.

I doubt if you will find many mothers who would laugh at this.

I am sorry if your mother was like that to you - but I certainly was not like that to my son. I fought for him tooth and nail as did many mothers, especially in Canada.

Just google Vancouver Sun adoption and see how many horror stories are surfacing there - including "dead baby" scams where mothers were told that their baby died and then the "dead" baby was put up for adoption without the parents knowledge, never mind consent.

In my case, I was verbally and physically abused by hospital staff. It was so bad that I am one of many mothers now registered on the UN's Violence Against Women (by the State).

I do not think Juno is funny nor realistic for me and many other mothers.

Juno will be knocking back the anti-depressants by the time the child turns 18 - 90 percent of mothers do.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Juno is propoganda to promote adoption. It makes it look like a fairy tale when it is not.

One has to remember that many of those who make films and are in the movie business are adoptive parents who do not want to show that the mother suffers in any way, shape or form.

It would be a much different (and more realistic movie) if there were tears but from what I have heard, there are none.

I cannot bring myself to watch this and to make it a comedy just trivialises the whole thing.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

First Anonymous,

One of the hardest things I've had to accept is that my mother was NOT coerced...as were so many women. I think Juno represents women like my mother. I know of other adoptees who have mothers like mine. They do, sadly, exist. But they - and Juno - do not reflect your experience. I believe that the connection you felt for your child was imprinted on him. Please see my earlier posts about The Unwelcome Child. Maybe the director will make Juno Part II, The Depression...and this time make it a tragedy.

ANONYMOUS II: I think it's too generous to call this movie Propaganda. Too much thought would have had to go into it. The screenwriter just came up with an idea that she thought might offer up some tension and laughs.

BTW, contrary to what we've heard, Juno DOES cry at the end of the movie. But hardly enough to suit me! And minutes later, it's cut to the next scene and she's SINGING MERRILY! OUCH.

Juno DOES trivialize adoption. I think that's the point that I found, weirdly, validating. This means I'm NOT crazy.

12:57 PM  
Blogger joy said...

thanks for writing this.

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Piper said...

I'm an adoptee too, and, not to play the victim card, find that we are just chattel in this silly game of people wanting babies and middlemen willing to find one, at whatever costs.

Heaven forbid we should grow up and not be grateful for what transpired purportedly for our benefit.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Well, hell, Joy, you are welcome!

Piper: That's not playing the victim card. Those are just the cold, hard facts. And to anyone who ever says, "Get Over It," I say...you first have to know what happened before you can get over it. And yeah, I'm ungrateful, too!!!

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nina - I was wondering what your thoughts were on this movie...I read a review on a movie blog that gave it high praise - and I got sick to my stomach, knowing what it was about. I know Im not going to patronize the film, just because of the fact that the Juno is shown to be content with her decision. None of those people will think of doing a sequel of the girl 15 years later wondering whats happened to her baby and why she feels so depressed.

on that note - I remember you mentioning how it would be to do different movie reviews that purport to have adoption themes. Was debating having my try at the Disney movie "Hercules." There are a lot of adoption themes there dont you think? Only thing is, Ive never made a good movie critic. I always find positive things to say....

Piper - one of the things that was the first ray of realization of being in a fog for me as an adoptee was that I hated being invalidated. At first I thought I was angry with my natural mother for invalidating me in a letter she wrote, but now I realize that its much bigger than that, and that became anger at being told I should be grateful. I know what to be grateful for. Gratitude is not a legitimate replacement for genuine loss...and we adoptees lost something.

Sharon
True of Voice

6:27 PM  
Blogger Laurie (formerly known as Momseekingpeace) said...

I wont see the movie..I have no interest in feeling pissed off.
Thank you for writing this and how you feel about it

7:58 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

SHARON: I had to overcome that sick-to-my-stomach feeling, too. But I couldn't join the conversation about the movie without actually having seen it. Go ahead...write the movie review of Hercules! Honestly, I can't remember the adoption themes in it b/c I saw it while still fogged up...but let me know if you do b/c I'd like to read your review!

LAURIE: If you haven't seen it already, I highly recommend "The Other Mother: A Moment of Truth Movie," starring Frances Fisher as Carol Schaefer. I've seen it a couple times and it always makes me cry. It's MUCH better in capturing the pain and loss of giving up a child to adoption. Before reunion, I'd hoped to find a mother like Carol. But it was not to be. I got Juno instead. And it's not just my imagination. My half-sister and other birth family members have said my mom has always been like that. Oh well. I'm still glad I found her. And she IS my mother, no matter what.

9:07 AM  
Blogger bandaidonmyheart said...

hi,

i found your blog. i hope you dont mind me reading it. this entry hit home. i haven't seen it yet ( i want to, i just haven't had time ) but your last sentence hits home: "What happens afterward is another movie.

What happens afterward is what we adoptees have to live with the rest of our lives."


I'm a bit afraid of seeing it, especially with anyone i know, since nobody knows i'm adopted. but i'm more afraid of the emotions it will bring up.

nonetheless, thanks for writing this.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Celera said...

Hollywood has never been especially good with "what happens afterward." Lovers live happily ever after. Adoptions are arranged with a few bittersweet moments but mostly joy and relief all around. (And to be fair, sometimes it does all work out, at least as well as anything does.) And reunions are all about a child finding their long-lost mother, father, or sibling, and they hug and weep and... live happily ever after. That part isn't really true either.

Life is complicated and difficult. It's just so much harder to make a movie that shows how difficult and complicated life is, and still have a movie people want to see on a Friday night.

12:24 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

BANDAID: Of course I don't mind you reading my blog! That's what it is here for! I lurv new readers and welcome all comments.

If you suspect that Juno may unleash emotions, go see it alone.

You said no one knows you're adopted. That must make you feel very isolated. Are you uncomfortable telling people? I get that. But I'm concerned suspecting that this might mean you don't get to talk about adoption and how you feel about it. As for all the emotions, I say better out than in. Suppressed emotions have a way of making us unhealthy. They have the tendency to come out anyway...just in weird ways. Let yourself feel what you need to feel.

CELERA: I hear you! It is, after all, just a movie with limitations. And an American movie, to boot...which tend to be more concrete than some foreign movies...which seem to allow for more ambiguity and complexity.

9:03 AM  
Blogger bandaidonmyheart said...

thanks for replying :) I think i may just go do that (see it, alone).

No, nobody knows, except for a few people. a few (of the few) people that do know i have broken friendship with them for various reasons.

That's why i started a blog. because i had no one to talk to about it. i like writing, so i figured i could do it annonmyously (excuse the spelling).

10:53 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Bandaid, Blogging is a great way to explore how you REALLY feel about being adopted and to make sense of it all. If anybody ever leaves a comment calling you ungrateful or whiney....screw 'em. This is about YOU. WHY people are so threatened by honest feelings, I have no idea.

10:12 AM  
Blogger bandaidonmyheart said...

:) thanks

10:40 AM  
Blogger ovalanimal said...

Bandaid Blogging?
Online self help therapy. You might be on to something here.
A bandaid though, is just a temporary solution for a bigger wound.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Ovalanimal,

I didn't quite catch the meaning of your comment. Care to elaborate?

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Gene said...

I agree that Juno (yes I've seen the movie) downplays the full impact of teenage pregnancy and adoption. What I don't agree with however is your opinion that to put a baby up for adoption because you're sixteen and do not have the resources to properly care for a child is torture for the child.

Surely there are cases where adoption is the only humane option for the mother.

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be quite honest, there are many teenagers that act like that. That's the only problem I really had with your post, apart from you don't see the emotions that I, along with many others could see coming from Juno. Especially at the end.

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