The adoptive mother describes the child whom they’d taken some years earlier from Ethiopia as having grown into a person with a wild look in her eyes. It was like seeing an exorcist. This is immediately followed with and then she became more sophisticated you know. Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics to other animals. But should there be a term when adopting parents attribute unnatural characteristics to the growing adopted child as a means of justifying its eradication from their lives?
Accusing an intercontinentally adopted child of having unforeseeable and insurmountable attachment issues is like leading a child to stand alone in a sound proof room and then saying she does not listen. The abnormal attachment issues are coming form the parents. But it’s the child who is labeled blamed and punished. This is not a documentary about intercontinental adoption at all. This is a documentary about child abuse in a trauma fueled industry.
The adoptive mother talking to the social services via telephone says if Masho (the adopted daughter) stays with us…. I can not vouch for the circumstances. The mother is saying she can not vouch for the safety of the child in her care. It is clearly a threat. If you dig deeper beyond the documentary you will find a timeline of events written by the director which help shed light on the hidden story.
The director writes May 2011 Henriette (the adoptive mother) calls me and tells of Masho’s immediate removal from the foster family, per their request, to an institution. Apparently Masho attacked the foster family’s biological daughter. This timeline is important. There is no biological daughter in the documentary. This must have been agreed between the director and the adopting parents.
That was May 2011. In the timeline May 2012 the director continues We record a conversation between Gert, Henriette, (the adoptive parents) and the school head master at Masho’s institution. The head master backs Gert and Henriette’s theories about Masho being traumatized at an early age. (This scene is not in the final film). The trauma the child suffered was because she was taken from, and denied, her home. Her new “parents” quite shockingly were a different colour and language. If this were acknowledged then it could’ve been managed through careful and caring understanding. But it wasn’t. They will not or can not acknowledge that their actions are the source of the trauma and therefore can not arrive at any solution. Denial is at the heart of most abuse. The Photo is Prince Alemayhu who had a similar fate. he was intercontinentally abducted, then thrown out of Sandhurst as a teen and abandoned. He died at eighteen years of age in Leeds.
The adoptive parents lack of understanding – I dare not call it naive – takes me right back to the beginning of the documentary when the baby is on their bed in the hotel and she is crying. It’s a miniature tantrum experienced by many children. The adoptive mother stares at the baby with contempt as the adoptive father follows and corrects her disruptive running around in the hotel room After the fourth time of being flung onto the bed the child stops and cries and cries. She’s obviously tired, excited and scared. She is speaking but they don’t understand. Intuition is smothered by ego.
The adoptive father tries to pick her up but she wants to be away from him. The new adoptive mother looks at the child and does not acknowledge the child’s words. Nobody asks to understand her. language is more about context than words. The adoptive mother says to the baby throw a tantrum if you must. Here we sing a different tune darling. That’s just the way it is sweetie But the baby girl speaks in Amharic, the only language she knew. The words between her sobs where in the subtitles “Mommy Mommy I want my Mommy Mommy I want to go….Mommy mommy I want my mommy”.