The drive is a relatively short one aided by the comfort of our new(ish) Nissan Maxima. I am quiet and I can tell my husband feels chatty. I am preoccupied with something else adoption related, something I have not shared with him, something I donâ€™t want to discuss today.Â Â
Â â€œHow is your neck doing, babe?â€ hubby inquires.Â
While I know he is genuinely concerned about my neck pain in relation to the drive and the bumpy Route 6 road, there is more to the question. His indirectly asking about my emotional state. He knows attending adoption related events has a way of setting me off, or back, or something.Â He is probing, questioning, attempting to get a pulse on the emotional blood flow for today. He is curious what kind of state he should expect to find his wife in later in the evening.
Â â€œIt is okay, babe. I took some meds before we left. This car is pretty tight in the handling so the bumpy Rhode Island roads are not as big of a problem in this car as they were in the Big Dogâ€ I respond.Â
At my reference of the Big Dog, the Ford Escape we traded in to purchase the Maxima, hubby frowns.Â
Â â€œAw, I miss the Big Dogâ€ he whines.Â
I smile and continue watching the road signs. Hubbyâ€™s lack of navigational skills (even with a GPS) coupled with my word nerdiness has me watching town signs and saying them to myself.Â I have a peculiar affection for the names of certain towns.
Pawcatuck. Scituate. Westconnaug. Ponaganset.
Providence, Rhode Island, the capital of the smallest state in the union, appears on the horizon.Â I am struck by the architecture and the size in relation to my home town area city, Hartford.Â Â I find myself envious of residents of the city, really any city.Â Something comes alive inside me when I visit larger cities; surely it is my memories of my time in Chicago.Â Beyond my Chicago time, it definitely the plethora of music, art, culture, and sheer creativity. My kinda place. As I ponder reasons why Providence would be so much nicer than Hartford (colleges?), we find our way to the Rhode Island School of Design, the host of the Rhode Island Film Festival, the place where we will screen the Ann Fessler documentary titled A Girl Like Her.
Much to my surprise my husband locates RISDÂ and the nearest parking lot rather quickly and we discover we are early.Â A short walk to the RISD Museum to identify it leads us to an area Starbucks for a light lunch.
My hunger decreases proportionally to my anxiety increasing.
Wow. Look at all the people. Quite a turn out for the movie.Â Kudos to Ann.
Hide. Look away. Donâ€™t make eye contact.Â
Do they know me? Do I know them? Have them read my blog?
I donâ€™t want to talk. I will cry.Â I donâ€™t want to cry.Â Movie. Just see the movie.
Ann glances my way. Does she remember me? We have met before, chatted at length.
The woman behind me mentions the Adoptee Rights Demonstration. The demonstration, in Chicago, that I did not go to.
Oh, gods I don’t believe in, help me.Â No. I cannot do this. My head is throbbing. Lump in my throat.Â Eyes hurt. Holding back emotion.
They are wearing name tags. Name tags.Â “I am a girl like her” they say. Their Scarlett Letters. Now worn with pride. Personally pinned on their chests. Presumably they are in the film. Local mothers. Proud to have helped Ann convey this message.
Not me. I want to go in a dark corner and cry. Why would they want to know me? My own child doesnâ€™t want to. She wants me to be invisible. Be silent. Behave.
Have I accepted a new gag order?
Fuck. Why did I come? Solidarity?
These are not my people. I cannot wear one of those tags
Are they? I am not a girl like her. I am a girl like me. Where are the girls like me? Feck. I wish Claud was here. She is so chatty and well-known.Â She would anchor my hysteria.
Â I am not from the infamous BSE. I came after. I had it â€œeasierâ€ some of them say. I should have kept my baby. I had choices they did not have. Didnt I? Â Roe v.Wade had happened. Society loosened its restraints on unwed mothers. I should have known better. Done better.Â So those BSE moms have told me.
Why am I here?
Why did I go to that place?Â Get on that plane? Why did I surrender my child to strangers? If it was such a good thing, why wonâ€™t she talk to me? Write me? Share her wonderful world with me?
The tears begin to flow. Must find the bathroom.
It has been several days since I saw the movie. I am still mulling it over, processing the hangover that comes with attending adoption related events. I want to do Ann and her work justice and review it appropriately yet I struggle.
Without question it was fantastic and Ann did an incredible job. The framing of the events in the larger landscape of society was essential.Â One could easily walk away from the movie and really understand how and why the baby scoop happened. You could not help but feel empathy for the women whose voices narrated so much of the film, many of whom I know personally. You could not help feeling enraged at the film clip that showed infants being categorized and labeled based on their presumed intellect and genetics.Â I personally felt ill at that part of the movie. Children as chattel.
As a female, I was disgusted by the film clips that placed so much blame and shame on the women and none on the men who contributed to their pregnancies.Â Some of it, much of it, hit much too close to home (as evidenced by my numerous winces and waterfall of tears during the movie).
Ugh. It just all made me feel so angry and sick.
Perhaps it is that anger, that muddling, my monkey mind that is preventing me from being more articulate. Perhaps in giving this jumbled rambling review I am giving a review â€“ of some sort.
I asked Ann during Q & A how to prevent people from walking away thinking that the baby scooping ended after 1973.Â Perhaps because I felt out-of-place, left out, even though I shared Â the same experience only in a different time period, I feel a calling to continue Annâ€™s work. Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat, or something like that. Sure, the numbers are lower, society has changed, but mothers and children are still being needlessly separated.Â
The scooping continuesâ€¦only with a smaller spoon.
A GIRL LIKE HER was awarded the Grand Prize, Providence Film Festival Award, 2012 the top award for a film made by a filmmaker from New England. The next screening will be at the Montreal World Film Festival, August 23-Sept. 3. Visit the film site for more information.