Mother and Child   

by writer/director Rodrigo Garcia

Any set of circumstances surrounding parents and children that have been separated at the birth of the child, and seek each other out years later, is almost invariably charged with passionate feelings, often contradictory, always powerful. As a source of inspiration, the subject is inexhaustible. From Exodus to Oliver Twist to telenovelas, fractured (but unbroken) parent-child ties have fueled stories everywhere. The raw materials are familiar to all: a hunger for connection, a fear of rejection, the puzzle of identity. The accounts, fictional or true, are repeatedly under the rule of almost unbearable coincidences—discovering that for a time you worked in the same building as her; you once saw pass the same parade; the same flood washed away her yard and yours—and of near misses: a letter lost, a misspelled name, the misread sign, the seven that might have been a one.
Many closed adoptions in particular have left behind them a mystery and a silence that resonates unbearably loudly in the heads of those involved. Whispering a name made up for her. Looking at faces in a crowd that could be her. Does she think of me? Has she looked for me? Does she care for me? Is she alive? This doesn’t mean, of course, that adoption is an unhappy choice. On the contrary, like many love stories (in writing Mother and Child I came to think of adoption as a love story) adoption stories are recurrently happy. Some are tragic, of course, as are love stories sometimes. Mostly, like very many love stories and like many happy lives, they are mixed bags of ups and downs, joy, regrets, dreams fulfilled, some disappointment, sufficient laughter.
If anything stayed with me from the numerous memoirs and interviews that I read while dreaming of this movie, it was how those involved in closed adoptions often felt at the mercy of blind and deaf and mighty forces that were capricious and unyielding. A sense of destiny hovers over these lives. The mind games we all play sometimes—if I had not missed school that day, if the flight had not been delayed, if I had walked through the door sooner—are frequent obsessions of those who fantasize of absent ones. Even when people find each other, the results are unforeseen. A woman and the mother that put her up for adoption meet and find peace, but no personal connection. Another pair forms a strong bond, and then it fizzles over time. Two others find a love and friendship much stronger than they would have dared to hope for.
In the end, these are accounts about things that are out of our hands. Things decided by others a long time ago, when we had no voice. And so I came to believe that the story most worth telling, the one that moved me, was a story of acceptance. Acceptance of who we were once and of who we’ve become. And of the things that are never going to be.

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