On the flight I’m Vancouver to Toronto, I watched “Admission,” a film starring Tina Fey. Little did I know when I chose it on the AirCanada setback screen that it would be my favourite adoption / family movie that I can remember.
The main character’s job is a university admissions officer, and the plot centres around her trying to get one gifted student into her university. But besides the overt plot, this movie wasn’t about college- it was about family relationships and identity.
So what did I like so much about this movie? I’ll do my best bit to give away too much, so you can see it too. But to start with, the lead male character has a son her adopted from Uganda. Of course, I love seeing African interracial adoption in films. But it was more the writing around this relationship that impressed me. There was no questioning of their father / son role… You could tell that they simply were family. There were issues they were dealing with, but it was about parenting, growing up, and priorities. Their identities were obviously and inextricably woven. Often adoptive families are questioned in movie lots: if they are real or not, and the depth of relationships. It was obvious from the grandmother to the father to the son that they simply were, and their status of a family wasn’t even a topic of the film. So nice to see.
There was another secondary character who was applying to university. He had been adopted at birth, and talked about his search for knowledge as the expression of his search for identity. It was such an articulate way to acknowledge how important birth family and birth stories are in the development of teenage adoptees. He mentioned navigating meeting his birth mother and how he was worried about hurting his parents feelings.
Then there was the main character’s own search for identity. Her mother has gotten pregnant and didn’t know who her birth father was… And that lack of knowledge and her mother not caring about her search for identity was one of the major cleavages in their relationship. On the same note, the main character had gotten pregnant herself in university and placed her child for adoption. She talked about how underprepared she was to be a parent, but also how she didn’t want to be a parent since she didn’t want her child to have the upbringing she had with her own callous, though well intentioned mother.
It was a study in character development, and I lived all the adoption threads woven into the film. I think it actually would be a great movie to have a discussion about at a parents group… Or just to do some pondering yourself.
Two thumbs up! And I hope you watch it.