Mercy Mercy My Review

12-James-Ross croppedThe 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 conversationPrince Alemayhu 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”.

See film here 




19 thoughts on “Mercy Mercy My Review

  1. Oh how my heart is broken for Masho and her family. I am an American, who also grew up in “care” although my story is not tragic such as Masho and Robba’s. I believe that poor child was having a somewhat normal reaction to an extreme situation (being taken away from anything that may have comforted her). Her brother was younger, did not understand as much and had a different personality. Even her biological parents spoke of her strong will.
    The adoptive couple hated the inconvenience she caused them. They did not see her as a person with feelings. It was very telling to me that in Ethiopia her family had nothing but they loved each other, but in her new country her new family had lots of things (figurines, stuffed animals, etc.) that seemed to have a higher place in their lives than Masho. I am forever changed by seeing her perfect little face, and beautiful eyes just empty and exhausted by all that she had endured just trying to assert herself, even if inconveniently. I will never understand the actual motives of the adoptive couple, but their arrogance toward and contempt for this child was crystal clear. Thank you Mr. Sissay for bringing this film to my life.

  2. Thank you for your insightful commentary and the link. We just watched it through with mounting horror, anger and revulsion. At the fantasy European-rescues-African approach (like Madonna). At the adoptive parents’ crass cultural ignorance and indifference. At the collusion between NGO’s all getting their cut. At the emotional manipulation of the parents by the agencies. At the sanctimonious arrogance of the Danish government, enabling Dan Adopt to operate. Heartbreaking how the Danish couple thought the African parents had been unloving and indifferent to their children, when the footage showed them so clearly close, loving and happy together. What a terrible international conspiracy.

  3. This is such a heart-wrenching documentaryI hope that Masho can find a loving home. As an Ethiopian, I have never been a fan of adoptions. I have seen the other side while living in Addis. In many cases it has become a lucrative and unethical business and children are traded like commodities. I feel sorry for the parents too who were lied to by their doctor and given false promises by the agency. You can hear in Amharic that the Ethiopian rep from the agency translated wrongly. The price paid is too high, especially for Masho.

  4. The descrption of the child “looking like something from the excorsist” is exactly what my sister said at seeing a photo of an adopted friend of mine. I was taken aback, it seemed harsh, cold even. I saw a firightened kid in the photo, one looking like she was lost, and yes, she was disturbed at being with parents who did not know how to connect with her, parents desperately reaching past her to someone they wished she could be, (who wouldn’t feel haunted by that?) other parents do this too but how much worse it must be when you know they are not your biological parents, the sense of aloneness and being “wrong” must then be amplified ten fold.

    As for trans-national/racial adoption I think it can’t help but make us all feel uneasy, because it’s undoubtedly expoitative of difficult economic or social problems. It is commodification of parenthood and of infants. And there are the horrible connotations of exotica and of difference, that totally sticks in the craw! As does the slightly smug sentiment of being philanthropic, swooping in to save children from Romanian or Russian orphanges or Chinese ones, or African. Because “we” can make “just that little bit of difference” to this one life? I find it nauseating and ultimately dishonest.

    Dishonest because such adoptive parents never properly admit to their own emotional neediness, and yet it is so very apparent. There is often a dominant narrative with parents who adopt abroad of being “on a special journey” where the child is made to sit centre stage and never allowed out of the spotlight. It becomes horribly clear that the parents are living through the child, using the child’s own personal journey of developing identity/racial/cultural heritage to give meaning to their own identites, and hitching their own childhood pain and adult angst onto the child’s sense of dislocation, using this as a kind of “shared wound” to give drama, colour, meaning to their own lives. I’d call that abusive.

    I know of one such couple who upon returning to China with their six year old adopted daugther to “re-connect” her with her roots had the romantic idea that they might just find her birth mother (who had abandoned her at three days old near an orphanage), no thought was given to whether the mother would wish for such contact, nor for the child and how she would be made to feel by this avid search for her birth mother.

    And so the couple began searching in earnest, even using the media to do so. Of course this couldn’t be hidden from the child and upon returning some two years later, she declared that she “didn’t know where her family were” “I couldn’t find them and they could be needing me!” This was the first time I had met her, and she tumbled this news out, I was speechless and confused as I had not known what had gone on out there, I had no idea there had been any search. When I asked the parents later and heard it from them I was really troubled and wondered what on earth led them to do that to a six year old? It’s sick. I only hope she gets away from these two as soon as she is able and at some stage makes a family of her own. Needless to say she is already confrontational and manipulative, how could she not be with such misguided and needy parents?! They do speak her language by the way, and have returned to China to raise her there, but they do not let up hitching along on her narrative and I just feel they live through the emotional drama of her and others who they now proclaim to want to help.

    Where is the wider picture? Where is the social context? It all seems to become so myopic. Adults need to get lives of their own, not make parenthood their main identity, whether adopted or not children need to know their parents exist meaningfully beyond them, that they have boundaries, aspirations, goals and drama of their own. Then the child can then develop it’s own identity knowing it’s emotional world is not at the mercy of the parents needs.

  5. DEAR LEMN and all those who want to take action on this case to make a difference to at least one family, please can I ask that you kindly donate to the organisation, ‘Against Child Trafficking’ (ACT), founded by Arun Dohle, a fellow adoptee and who is running ‘Operation Masho’, to help Masho and her family to reconnect. At the moment Masho has been dumped by her adopters into the state welfare system (orphanage) in Denmark, being treated for ‘attachment disorder’ while her brother Robba still lives with the adopters. ACT has met with the parents and is helping them with lawyers etc.

    Please donate to:

    Below is a brief description of how ACT are helping Masho and her family. They have done a lot since they posted what’s written below. You can follow their progress on the Act website.

    THANK YOU, Dhaka Mist:

    What is ACT’s plan?

    ACT wants to bring Masho´s Ethiopian family in touch with her.

    Does it mean ACT wants to force Masho back to Ethiopia?
    No.- ” bringing them in touch” is our goal.

    How will ACT do it?

    We want to offer Masho´s parents for the first time independent assistance and possibly legal aid. We hope to empower them through this.

    What are the first steps?

    First the ACT field team needs to go to Ethiopia and meet with the Ethiopian family. “Only after having evaluated what the family actually needs and wants for Masho, ACT can explore the available options.

    Reporters have met with the Ethiopian family, and the filmmaker has said, that they don´t want Masho back. What do you say to this?

    Actually having worked on a number of cases in India, Malawi and Ethiopia (Arun) I know that families get intimidated, people confuse them, sometimes settlement agreements are signed etc. I’ve seen it all. So I don´t believe anything and anyone, unless we have met the parents and assessed the situation carefully ourselves. At least it appears from the documentary that the parents want to know about Masho and be in touch with her.

    Critics may say, Masho needs to be at the center. What do you answer them?

    Of course Masho is the center of this. But one cannot look at a child isolated from his/ her family. Certainly by bringing the parents in touch with Masho, at the end what Masho wants is taken into account.

    How much is ACT’s fundraising goal?

    It is next to impossible to work out a concrete budget, as it is unknown what exactly will happen and how it all will develop. But we need approximately at first around 5000 Euros in order to start working on this case. This will mainly cover travel costs of ACT’s team. Working time for the Ethiopian social worker, local travel and accommodation. Depending on what the parents want, we may need more funding later in the process.

    How can we discuss here in this group about Masho´s case?

    We all need to understand that we all only know about Masho, her Ethiopian family and the adoptive family from the media. So we kindly request you to refrain from any sort of judgmental statements here in this group, out of respect for all involved.

  6. A minor correction: “But the baby girl speaks in Amharic, the only language she knew. ”

    No, just like her birth parents, the recently adopted Masho is BILINGUAL, she speaks both Oromo and Amharic. In the hotel room, she changes desperately between the two to see if Henriette or Gert will understand at least one of the two languages, but they cannot even tell them apart.

  7. This is the most heartbreaking documentary I have ever watched. The ethopian parents were literally persuaded to give their children away and were made faulse promises and given unsufficient information about the entire process. The allegedly psychologically trained adoptive parents are stonecold, very self-centered and unempathic and have no sense at all for Masho´s anguish and despair. As she does not “function” as expected, she is punished with rejection and, is given to different foster families and finally put in a children´s home – separated from her brother. Especially Henriette can´t handle Masho´s (understandable) behaviour and reacts in a sadistic and psychologically abusive way. In my opinion she plays a major role in Masho´s trauma. Henriette seems to have serious psychological issues herself and I wonder that none of the authorities seems to notice that. She even throws a serious jealousy fit as Masho gets back from her week-end foster family and nags about the other familiy having washed Masho´s clothes and even sniffing on them. She also calls the child possessed and cannot even stand looking at her as it seems. She takes the child´s reactions and rejection personally instead of giving it time and unconditional love as a true parent would. The couple has obviously no experience and no sense for children at all and the way they have destroyed this child annoys me beyond belief.

      • Whether Masho´s story is an exception? I am afraid not and as long as people can make money with dirty deals like that, there will be no end in sight. And potential adoptive parents should – instead of being checked financially over and over again – be quizzed for the true motives of their adoption-wish and have to undergo several useful psychological tests from independant sides.

  8. I just watched the film which was shown on Finnish Television. That was so shocking. It feels I can not stop crying, especially for Masho. It is terrible to think how the adoption ruined this little girl’s life. I feel the deep antipathy for those new “parents”. They blamed the child, but I blame them. What a terrible people!

  9. Dear masho… So many people let you down… Your family, your danish parents, all THE professionals who failed. I can understand you’re lack of faith, trust. I feel you’re despair, you’re lonelyness. Beautifull masho… You are in my heart forever, love you!
    Mirjam Uda netherlands

  10. Do we know what happened to Masho?
    I worry for her brother. If anyone had taken my siblings from me I would be beyond broken.
    May god have mercy on Henriette’s soul.

  11. No words for this HORROR story, someone please let the real and only parents hold there two children in there arms again, hurt, damaged and LOVED as they are. This adoptive couple is behound horrible and should not be alowed to have, raise or be in touch witch children, because they dont now about love, understanding and sympathy. I cried already at there sight. How can you treat the parents of your adoptive children that way? What the childrends parents did was out of love (and ignorance). They felt like they had no choice. At least give them a change to get there children back and support them !!! I wish i could do something

  12. p.s. the adoptive parents would not alow Masow to enjoy annything wile she was sent away for a few days, in fear that ‘ Eldorado’ exposed the true nature of the problem. I understand that they even now dinie Masow a change of a new future by refusing to give up there legal rights of here, so she’s left in a childrens home for here intire youth ? I can’t stop crying for this girl and here relatives. From everything we saw the mental abuse on the diner table and the forcing to cry by here father scared the hell out of me… what we didn’t see scares me even more.

    I wonder if the filmmaker can (did?) do for the parents.

    Who can help ???

    Vannie from the Netherlands

  13. I just want to mention that the foster family (i.e., the one with the biological daughter) was not the adoptive parents. The foster family would be the “relief” family that Masho was repeatedly sent away to so that the adoptive parents could “get a break” from the stress of taking care of her. (Obviously, the poor child is the one who really needed relief from the abuse they continually subjected her to!)

    Afterward Masho was shifted away from the foster family into the institutional “home.” In other words, she was torn from her biological parents; then she was dis carded by her adoptive parents then she was taken from the foster parents and stuck into a group institution. I don’t see any way this little girl’s life works out for her. Since being ripped from her loving biologial parents, she has been abused and abandoned so much that I can’t imagine how such deep wounds can possibly ever be healed.

  14. How can we help her? I donated to Against Child Trafficking but they could not get through. Shouldn’t we get up, travel to her town of residence, roll out red carpets for her and her parents, give her parents an opportunity to speak and sing to their children on a stage (the Masho-song, remember?)?

  15. Es war für mich eine Katastrophe diesen Film zu sehen. Das Leiden dieser Kinder, insbesondere Masho, und seiner biologischen Eltern im 21. Jahrhundert. Unvorstellbar für mich als Mutter von 3 Kindern.
    Diese “Adoptiveltern” waren unfähig vom ersten Moment an, als diese armen Kinder in ihre “Obhut” kamen. Warum werden unsere Kinder, unsere Zukunft, solchen Monstern ausgesetzt, die sich dann auch noch Psychologen schimpfen. Was haben die sich denn gedacht? Man kann Kinder einfach irgendwo abholen und dann bei sich in eine Ecke stellen? Kinder brauchen Schutz, Zuwendung, Liebe, Geduld. Nichts davon haben diese Hexe und ihr Gehilfe aufgebracht. Masho hat ein ganz normales Verhalten an den Tag gelegt, zumal man sie gerade ihren Eltern entrissen hatte. Dass sie auf so wenig, gar kein, Verständnis stieß bei diesen beiden ist mir unbegreiflich. Weil Masho nicht so “funktionierte” wie man es wollte, wurde sie wieder weggegeben. So wie viele Menschen ihre Tiere abgeben, wenn sie merken, dass diese auch Bedürfnisse haben. Lieber in Äthiopien arm bei den Eltern, als in Dänemark bei 2 Eisbergen.

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