Home > Movie, Review > Movie Review: Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy (2010)

Movie Review: Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy (2010)

Images of Donna Sadowsky with Faith.Summary:
This documentary follows the adoption of Fang Sui Yong, an 8 year old Chinese girl, by the Sadowsky’s, a Jewish family from Long Island.  The filmmaker seeks to highlight the particular issues faced when adopting older children internationally.

Review:
This is one of those films that shows how difficult life can be, and that sometimes there is no good choice.  There’s only the iffy choice that’s a bit better than the alternative.  Sui Yong (who now goes by “Faith,” so I”ll call her that for the rest of the review) didn’t want to leave China.  She was quite happy living with her foster family, and had never seen a white person before.  This is all the film tells us at first, so you immediately wonder, why can’t Faith stay with the foster family?  It turns out that foster families can’t adopt the children they’re caring for in China, and it is unlikely Faith would have stayed with them for her whole childhood.  Additionally, Faith is special needs with a club foot and dropped wrists.  Her foster parents state that she would face great difficulty in China, being treated as an outcast.  Her foster parents want her to be adopted.  They see that her future in China is very bleak.

That doesn’t mean that her transition to the US went perfectly, of course.  The culture shock Faith faces is severe, even if just looking at going from hearing Mandarin and Cantonese to hearing English all the time.  Donna Sadowsky is obviously a tough love type mom, believing that being firm will be the fastest way to help Faith acclimate.  Personally I believe she was a bit too tough.  Some of the learning could have been made into a bit more of a game.  More understanding could have been shown for her special needs.  But I only saw a brief film of two years of the time they spent together.  It’s almost impossible to tell Faith’s personality from that much film.  Maybe they tried taking it a bit easier on her, and she slacked off too much.  Maybe the doctors told them Faith could do certain things that it turned out she couldn’t.  It’s hard to tell.

An interesting element of the film is the fact that the filmmaker, a one-woman team, speaks Mandarin, and so translates sometimes for the family.  This of course means that she has a direct impact on the story she’s documenting.  It’s quite interesting to watch and to consider how much documenting a story impacts it.

Overall, this is a very interesting documentary.  Many people are hesitant to adopt older children.  This film shows that it can be done, as well as the great need for families for older and special needs children internationally.  It brings up interesting questions regarding international and transracial adoption, as well as demonstrating how quickly the American consumer culture impacts children.  I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in international adoption or the issues related to it.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: PBS website

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