Wednesday, January 07, 2015
"Stuck" shows the hurdles faced by several families trying to adopt underprivileged children from orphanages overseas
“Stuck”, a film directed by Thaddeus Scheel, written by Jennifer Latham, and narrated by Mariska Hargitay, documents the enormous obstacles would-be parents face with international adoption.
The film follows several families, including a couple in Brooklyn and another Indiana, as well as a single woman in Georgia. The film looks at conditions in Haiti, Vietnam, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Romania and even Hungary.
The typical cost for an adoptive family is $28000, and it takes up to three years. International adoptions from the US have dropped about 50% in the past five years, even though there are about 10 million potential children waiting. The paperwork and monitoring, especially by the other country, is extreme.
The family trying to adopt from Vietnam may have encountered the most obstacles. The Vietnamese government, run from Hanoi (Ho Chi Minh City) clamped down after a baby-trafficking scandal erupted. Part of the political situation concerned Vietnam’s willingness to follow Unicef standards.
Even at the end, the family had to wait sixty extra days for local newspaper ads to be run to see if a Vietnamese family would adopt. None would. The film shows the family’s final trip to Vietnam, with a lot of spectacular footage of the Mekong Delta. It also shows Addis Ababa, and Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
The film also shows the horrific conditions at some orphanages, especially in Romania, where children simply fail to thrive.
A child in Ethiopia is asked why she is in an orphanage, and she says, "my mother couldn't take care of me." And she says most parents don't want a child that they "don't know", an astonishing statement in subtitles.
At one point, the film makes the statement, “for a child, a family is a basic human right.” But in western countries, relatively few prospective parents who might be able to adopt will even try, setting up a vicious circle, where countries’ governments interpret western behavior opportunistically, regarding children as “commodities” or pawns of politics and greed, and ideology.
In fact, the sponsoring organization, Both Ends Burning (link) says that it is “dedicated to every child’s human right to a permanent loving family.” But there would have to be enough future parents for this to come about. The film can be streamed from the site for $9.99 and the theatrical release was from Samuel Goldwyn Films.
Wikipedia attribution link for NASA Mekong Delta space here.