Welcome to ONE WORLD: Chinese Adoptee Links (CAL G2 est. 2007) Blog!


Friday, April 18, 2014


Hello One Worlders & Friends

Recently read about this fascinating project. Perhaps you could help spread the word?


Wishing you a wonderful Easter!

Much Love,

Reflections on Freedom

Hello All,

Sabrina here. Hope you all are outside enjoying the spring weather -- well at least it's getting warm here in Beijing! (hooray light jackets, walks in parks, and dining outside).

As you may or may not know from my bio, I was adopted from Beijing originally and now I live and work here, for a non-profit NGO called Humana People to People China. My background is environment but I also wanted a chance to work on the more social aspects of sustainable development and gain skills in fundraising.  I've learned a lot about the social situation of China and it's huge inequality gap in this huge country. Something we see even in the richest countries -- in the US we also have a huge disparity between rich and poor and like all around the world, that affects the distribution of resources.

I'm adopted by a Jewish family and I consider myself culturally Jewish (or a secular Jew) - the community is important to me. Right now we are celebrating Passover, which is a celebration of freedom from when the Jews were enslaved in Egypt (the story of Exodus in the old testament) and also a time to remember the suffering they went through and how they came out of it. 

At Seder (the Passover meal) in Beijing last night, we went around and talked about what 'freedom" means to us today.  As a good exercise in reflection, I did think about what freedom meant to me, what it means for people. I work in poverty alleviation. I believe poverty takes away many freedoms in one's life, as poverty most of the time takes away choice (also if you are interested in development, you must read Amartya Sen's "Development as Freedom"). When you don't have a choice but to walk 3 hrs to get clean water, when you don't have a choice to go to school or not because there is no school in your village, when you don't have a choice but to leave medical conditions untreated because there is no clinic or doctors available. Poverty is oppressing, but I also want to make clear it does not mean someone cannot live a happy life (as we know rich certainly does not automatically mean happy). However people should be empowered so they have more choices -- so they are FREE to do whatever it is that they want to do. 

I wanted to share with you some of the situations I've learned about working in China and I also want to post this link: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/enroll-rural-kids-into-preschool-in-china/ 

I was thinking of more communities to reach out to, and I felt this would be a good one since we all have more personal connections to China. This is to support one of Humana People to People China's "Preschools of the Future" in Zhenkang County, Yunnan province. These kids are mostly ethnic minority (not Han) who live in remote rural areas. 

Michael our country representative visiting the kids at our Taozhizhai preschool class in Zhenkang Yunnan

Although urban children mostly all have access to kindergarten, 23 million children in China, mostly in rural areas, still lack access to three year preschool education. As many of you know as parents, this puts them at a lower developmental level, since the ages 3-6 are absolutely critical for social and cognitive development. Many of these kids do not get a lot of interaction at home as their parents have either migrated to cities to find work or they are in doing farmwork -- meaning preschool makes a massive difference in their lives. Early education is one of THE MOST cost effective ways to break the cycle of poverty; an MIT study showed for every 1 dollar put into education, you get a 13 dollar return to society. Early education (and indeed just good nutrition alone) at this age means the child is more likely to go onto further education, have greater job opportunities, and lead better livelihoods than children who do not attend preschool. Since I was adopted from a couple who were not married, in the 1980s I would not have been allowed to attend school, and I think of this and feel grateful about how many freedoms in my life have been enabled because of education! 

OK these are my thoughts recently and I wanted to share!

Also Happy Easter!! Someone eat a delicious Cadbury egg for me, will you?

Much love,

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Special Three-Year-Old Dances

Enjoy the arrival of spring, at least in many parts of the world. And here is a little bundle of talent to make you smile, even though he remains pretty serious himself.



Monday, April 7, 2014

Invisible Crown: Our Confidence by: Jacqueline Cohen


Confidence is an invisible crown.

It’s our sensual essence, our silent knowingness that keeps us smiling and walking with grace.
Confidence helps us breathe with ease and walk into a room with poise and vitality.
Confidence is what sets us apart from those only invested in the perfect outfit, the highest heels, the best plastic surgeon or the incessant need to be validated.
Confidence has no need for gossip and superficial relationships.
Can you fake it ’till you make it?


Accepting that we’re all going to get nervous and anxious in life, can actually bring us to a calmer space.
Once the shift starts to happen, we begin noticing how our body is reacting. Then we become aware of the thoughts and emotions we’re having. Soon, we witness how the fears stop multiplying and simply vanish—eases like a whisper if we let it.

Fear limits the capacity for our truest expression.

A Woman from Brazil shared a story with me about the time she was learning to play the piano. She began composing her own songs when she was only 10 years old. She asked her Mother to listen to one of her new songs. Abruptly her Mother interrupted her laughing,“That’s not music, you’re not a composer.”
She stopped playing that year.
Something that brought her such joy and freedom was instantly transformed into shame and failure. Even now as she speaks of this memory, it brings her back to the feeling of not being good enough.
We all tend to focus on a lot of unproductive fears the second we wake up or as we move through the day. Each of these fears, real or imagined can bankrupt our confidence.
Learning to reboot it needs to becomes a daily practice, until the effortless version slips in under the covers.
Most people want to be significant in their lives, but if the intention behind this comes from only identifying with fast cars, private jets, movies stars and wanting billions in the bank, there most likely will never be true satisfaction.
We quickly learn that being Superficial makes us Fragilistic.
I am enough

Confidence teaches us that we are enough.

So, before anyone begins investing in surgically altering procedures, or cheating on a final exam or saying no to a vacation because our inner thighs are touching, please take a few minutes to process the following:
Smart, Sensual and Spiritual Women have the following attributes and skills in common:
1. We are pretty fucking honest with ourselves, even when it’s painful.
2. We listen well.
3. We give really good eye contact.
4. We are present—and we like them too.
5. We know what we we like and what we don’t like.
6. We wear clothing that is comfortable, maybe even provocative, but always with a personal style.
7. We don’t refer to our body as imperfect, we know it’s ours and we want to take care of it, cherish it and love it.
8. We are mindful of our posture.
9. We shake hands and we mean it.
10. We aren’t “know it alls,” but we do want to learn and experience it all.
11. We know that peace comes from being with what is.
12. We understand that in creating an environment of total acceptance, we can simply be in our essence andbe love.
What would you being doing right now if you had more confidence?
Who would you call tonight?
What job would you pursue?
What fantasy would you explore?

When we begin to trust ourselves, our confident beings orchestrate all possibilities.

We discover our yearning power and our daily purpose.
I personally know that it takes strength and courage to break patterns of a life time. I have an arsenal of survival mechanisms and creative distractions that could paralyze me for an eternity. I have learned through my many, many many mistakes that taking the path of least resistance won’t build confidence. It just keeps us soft, mushy and unfulfilled.
Today, let’s all begin aligning our calendars, our spines, our lives and host a Life that we truly desire while unraveling the fear of trying to be perfect.
Make room for the Life you want.
Invisible Crowns : Free of charge.

About Jacqueline Cohen

Jacqueline Cohen is from New York City. She is dedicated to all things Smart, Sensual and Spiritual and not necessarily in that order. Jacqueline has been an Autobiographical Theater Director since 1994. She is an Executive Life Coach and Drama Therapist, focusing on Mindfulness and living life from our highest self. She loves to travel, sing, meditate and swim out past the buoys. Her favorite role in life is being a Mother to her daughter Katie. Currently, she is a Life Coach and Producing a Broadway Musical in NYC.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Submission Deadline for Letters to Adopted and Fostered Youth Extended to May 1st, 2014

Dear One Worlders, 
If there is anyone who would still like to submit a contribution to the An-Ya Letter Project , you are still in time! [writers must be 18 or older]. Please spread the word. 
Will be writing about Michiko's beautiful dance performance for the "Heart of Japan." Just a bit overwhelmed by work right now. Promise to get photos up soon.
Much love,

Dear Wonderful You, Letters to Adopted & Fostered Youth
Submission Deadline Extended to May 1st 2014

We want to thank everyone for their outpouring of support and enthusiasm forDear Wonderful You, Letters to Adopted & Fostered Youth. We are humbled and grateful for the tremendous submissions we have already received.
Several writers have expressed the emotional journey they took during the writing of their submissions. We want to thank all of those who have forged ahead and submitted to the project.
We also have received many private requests to extend the submission deadline because contributing to this project does require a personal and complex journey. For those adult adoptees and adults who were fostered, we want to extend the deadline to make sure everyone who believes in this project has the chance to contribute. We also want to assure you –every submitted letter we receive is read with deep care and held with respect.
Thank you to all who have contributed their submissions. Thank you in advance to those who will join us in these upcoming weeks with their submissions.  We promise you will be in wonderful company. Your words have the power to make a difference.

For details: www.anyadiary.com
Our Best,
Mei-Mei Akwai Ellerman & Diane René Christian (AN-YA Project Co-Founders)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Confessions of a Worrywart" by Susan Orlins

Dear One Wolders,

I'm in the midst of reading this wonderful memoir by Susan Orlins (more thoughts to come!).

Meanwhile, since many publishers have been approaching me to review books over the past few years, I'm delighted to introduce a new blog for book reviews called My Inspiration Garden.

If you'd like a review your book posted, you can write to me directly at jenniferjuesteuck@post.harvard.edu.


Much Love,

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Congratulations to Donna Kornhaber! "BOOKS TO WATCH OUT FOR" (NEW YORKER)

Dear One Worlders, 
Just had to take a moment to congratulate my fellow Tisch friend and writer, Donna Kornhaber, on the publication of her first book. I can't wait to read it!
Much Love,
“Charlie Chaplin, Director” (Northwestern University Press), 
by Donna Kornhaber, out March 5th. “
"I think I’m a better director than an actor, ” Charlie Chaplin told Life magazine, in 1967. Most film critics and scholars disagreed. As a director, Chaplin has been called “inadequate” and of “very modest competence”; his filmmaking efforts are, at best, considered a vehicle for his fine performances. In her new book, Kornhaber, an English professor at the University of Texas at Austin, seeks to rehabilitate Chaplin’s reputation as a director, arguing that his style represented a innovative break with classical moviemaking. Kornhaber locates a “Chaplinesque” visual approach that was “purposeful, intelligible, and rich,” arguing that Chaplin was “deeply committed to exploring film as a consummate medium of expression, to challenging accepted cinematic orthodoxies, and to questioning what it means to make a film.”—R.A.

Excerpt from the New Yorker at http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2014/03/books-to-watch-out-for-march-1.html

Friday, March 7, 2014

An Open Invitation to Submit a Letter for the Next An-Ya Project!

We are inviting adult adoptees from anywhere in the world [18 and up] to submit a letter for our first volume of letters addressed to Adopted and Fostered Youth [tweens and teens]. We welcome your thoughts, shared experiences, inspirational words. Deadline is April 1st.


Original call for submissions:


Looking forward to hearing from you!

Love Mei-Mei and Diane [Rene' Christian, co-founders of the An-Ya Project]

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Celebrating 7th Annual Charity Banquet at Duke University, sponsored by Duke China Care for Half the Sky

Peeking down upon audience made up of parents and students

On Saturday Feb. 15th, I was delighted to take part in a scintillating celebration organized by the Duke China Care Chapter. The fundraiser attended by Chinese adoptees and their families helps to provide often life-saving medical treatment at the China Care Center in Beijing to children with special needs from orphanages throughout China.  [http://halfthesky.org/en/node/1367] 
The Duke students also run local programs for Chinese adopted children, such as weekly mentorship and playgroup events, and exposure to cultural heritage through the arts, crafts, folk dancing and cooking. 

In November, a member of the Duke China Care Excecutive Committee contacted and invited me to be the keynote speaker at their upcoming Spring Festival celebration in February 2014. I accepted with pleasure. Despite snow and ice storms both in the Boston area and in North Carolina, I made it to Durham on the appointed day. The representatives of Duke China Care couldn't have been more welcoming. All seniors, mostly headed for medical school, they were bright, mature, poised, with a strong sense of commitment to their future profession and deeply engaged in the success of their chapter of China Care. 

The evening of Feb. 15th began on a quiet note as one of my guides led me across the vast expanse of the beautiful campus, barely visible in the advancing twilight. [Some day I hope to return and visit the premises of Duke in daylight]. When we arrived at the Freeman Center for Jewish Studies where the banquet was scheduled, it was virtually empty. Then people, organizers, caterers and enchanting light footed children, dressed in colorful outfits, their hair carefully coiffed and brimming with excitement brought the large hall to life. Decorations went up as if by magic, red lanterns, long chains of entwined paper ribbons, Chinese symbols and characters, festive table cloths, yellow and red being the predominant colors.

Attending families feasted on the generous and colorful buffet offerings, then settled into their seats for the next feature of the evening. We were treated to an impressive and riveting series of artistic performances: Duke's co-ed Asian a cappella group sang popular songs from across Asia with vibrant energy and professionalism; a junior at Durham School of Arts who has studied violin for 12 years, gave an exquisite rendition of Shepherd Girl, followed by a passionate, complex creative dance by two members of the Duke Chinese Dance organization. Two delicate violin and flute duets that paired a Duke student with a student from a local high school concluded the musical offerings. 

The chatter and bustle of dozens of Chinese children belonging to the Triangle Area Chinese American Society (TACAS), who had been lining up behind where I was seated, finally quieted down, as group after group of entrancing dancers, the first ensemble no older than 3 o r 4, took to the stage. The applause was deafening and well deserved as the young artists engaged in intricate and challenging traditional dances with grace and precision amid smiles and occasional extra leaps of joy. 

TACAS dancers- Welcoming Spring Ribbon

TACAS dancers- Baton Dance

TACAS dancers-Miao Cup Dance 

Suddenly it was my turn. As I said while stepping up to the table set out for my notes, "This is a very hard act to follow!" The young performers full of talent, promise and vision, represented the very best of the present generation.

Caught up in the euphoric atmosphere, I cast aside my prepared speech and simply spoke from the heart. I dedicated my presentation to three extraordinary women: my Maman who made me the center of her life at the age of 7 months, my Chinese grandmother who in 1885 defied all traditions by eloping at 19 with my dashing Danish grandfather, and my trail blazer daughter who led me to China in 1998, thus opening the gateway to all the amazing discoveries that would ensue over the next 16 years. Discoveries, which provided the foundation of my two memoirs, still works in progress.

I shared aspects of my life, from the early years of my adoption, through my peripatetic childhood as we moved from Western Massachusetts to Denmark, Mexico, the South of France and finally Italy and Switzerland, always returning to the US for the summers. I have lived a fairy-tale life, which has included amazing opportunities afforded me by Maman [half Chinese, half Danish, raised in China until age 11 and then educated in the US and Europe- a global citizen, world traveler, visionary and a woman who was all heart]. 
I have also known some of the challenges and issues which almost all adopted individuals experience at some point in their lives. Though the smiles among the audience warmed me to the core, I had to be honest and find the courage to bring up the hard issues for which parents of young adoptees need to prepare and be ready to openly address. Issues related to loss, rejection, identity, belonging, the need to "know," which so frightens some adoptive parents whereas it is a natural urge which should be honored and supported. I gave out a short list of reference books, novels, anthologies by adult adoptees, including An-Ya and Her Diary, and Perpetual Child, Dismantling the Stereotype. Questions flowed, a bit hesitant at first but at the end, a small group of parents and older adoptees surrounded me, sharing personal stories, asking for advice, thanking me for my candor. 

The following day I left the balmy climate of North Carolina to return to snowy Boston, enriched, inspired, confident that the dozens of children and young people I had met, would contribute each in his or her own way, to improving our world thanks to their many gifts, their uniqueness, their passion for life. I felt blessed and full of optimism.

The following link to a traditional dance of the Yao tribe is similar to the recorded version performed at the Duke China Care event. It will give you a taste of the hauntingly beautiful music. [copy and paste in your browser].

As always, with much love to all One Worlders, Mei-Mei

TACAS dancers- Yao dance

Letter from Sophia - New Study on Adoption (University of California)

Dear One Worlders, 
Please see letter below about an exciting new adoption study! 
Much Love,

Hi Jennifer

I contacted you last year regarding a pilot study I was conducting investigating the ethnic and cultural identity development of late adolescent females adopted from China. Thank you for your support in that endeavor. The results of that study were compelling and I have been granted IRB approval to conduct a full study to include participants age 14 and over. 

This study includes a short 20-30 minute survey (link below) and an opportunity to participate in one or more follow-up interviews and the possibility of being included as a case study. It is my hope that this study will help give a voice to this unique population and help inform the understanding of their needs.

The results of this study will be used to further the goals of the participant community as they are truly the only ones who know where the work needs to be done. It may be used to help develop parent educational programs for adoption agencies, independent workshops, seminars and text for adoptive parents and their children and to educate and inform the population at large, etc... 

Please consider posting all or part of this message and the link below to your blog.

Thank you,

Sophia Gonfiotti-Mattingly

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Deeply Honored to Announce Steve McQueen as Polaris Project Ambassador

Thrilled to announce the following press release. Please click on website address for full details.
Steve McQueen Named Polaris Project Ambassador:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Wonderful online course offered by Everyday Feminism: The Relationship Course

[Course began on the 17th, but you can still register! People have registered from all across the globe. Give yourself this gift!]

I highly recommend this course, not just if you are in a relationship. Registration closes today, but EF will accept sign ups through the weekend. It is a three month course, new readings every two weeks, discussion groups if you choose to participate, even coaching. This course will give you skills to improve any relationship, not just between partners. Take the leap. You won't regret it!


  Free Yourself from Toxic Messages and Learn New Skills
To Build the Healthy, Thriving Relationship You Deserve
What are the issues that are getting in the way of having the relationship you want?
If you’re like most of us, some of those issues might be:
  • Arguments and conflicts that lead to long-lasting hurt and defensiveness
  • Needs and feelings that are not communicated or acknowledged
  • Lack of mutual support and encouragement around goals and interests
  • Baggage from family, past relationships, and internalized messages
  • Personality and cultural differences that become a source of conflict and misunderstanding
  • Dysfunctional habits and ruts that don’t seem to ever change
  • Fear and uncertainty around rejection or the relationship failing
  • Not feeling lovable or good enough for your partner
If any of these sound familiar, you’re not alone.

Why Are Dysfunctional, Unfulfilling Relationships So Common?

For many of us, we’ve had a lifetime of poor modeling.
In many families, needs go unspoken, emotions aren’t acknowledged, boundaries aren’t respected, and dreams go unsupported.
And sadly, in too many families, there’s neglect, control, and abuse by the very people who are supposed to take care of us, distorting our understanding of how love is expressed.
Is it any wonder that these same problems show up later in our relationships?
If that isn’t enough, our society and mass media are constantly bombarding us with messages about who we “should” be and how we “should” be in our relationship.
If you’re a woman, you need to be eternally beautiful, youthful, thin, white, straight, able-bodied, and cisgender and you need to make him feel like a “man” and be sexually available to him and only him.
If you’re a man, you need to be strong, in control, show no fear or weakness, white, straight, able-bodied, and cisgender and you need to be earning some serious money in order to take care of her and get your sexual needs met.
And if you’re queer or trans*, society thinks you’re bizarre and sex crazed and keeps trying to push you into the traditional woman box or man box.
No wonder we all struggle to build the fulfilling relationships that we want.

It’s Hard Work. But It Is Possible.

Healthy, thriving relationships are less about finding the “perfect person” and more aboutbuilding a daily practice of loving skills and habits, supported by a shared commitment to personal growth.
This means that no matter what your past – you can learn this. You can build the relationship that you deserve.
And we’re here to help you do it.
This all-inclusive 3-month online course will help you free yourself from toxic messages about relationships and learn the framework, skills, and habits to:
  • Accept each other as you are, while believing in each other’s ability to grow
  • Unpack your baggage, biases, and internalized messages around relationships
  • Be respectful of each other’s needs and boundaries
  • Communicate your feelings and desires and invite your partner to help support them
  • Give and receive support and encouragement around each other’s goals and interests
  • Turn conflicts into opportunities for deeper connection and growth
  • Nurture habits that create energy and excitement
  • Have an inspiring vision of how you wish to grow as a couple and as individuals
  • And much more!
These are the same skills and habits that my husband and I have developed over the last decade to overcome our past modeling and internalized messages to build a healthy, thriving, and inspiring relationship. Having this type of relationship enabled us to launch Everyday Feminism and create the deeply fulfilling (if unconventional!) life that we share together.
You’ll get support in applying these skills to your life through group coaching calls, an online forum, and a community of feminists all working toward building the relationship we deserve.
Normally, a group coaching program like this would cost $300. But Everyday Feminism is committed to making this course more accessible through a reduced price, referral discounts, and even scholarships.
Registration closes on Friday, February 14th, and there are limited spaces available. So if you’re ready to enroll, don’t put it off!
I hope to see you in the course!
Sandra Kim
Founder of Everyday Feminism and
The Relationship Course Leader

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Magical Visit with Youngest Grandson

Among my greatest joys in life are my "unofficially" adopted adult daughters and sons- friends of my own children, former students, international students I have hosted from around the world.
This past weekend I spent a day and a night with my Japanese "adopted" daughter and family, starring my six and a half month old grandson. I consider my recent visit my special Valentine's gift.

One forgets how innocent, trusting and unwavering an infant's gaze is when the child has been surrounded by love and tenderness, protected from life's uncertainties and challenges that lie ahead.

What a bundle of joy! This little one is single-minded and whenever awake, if not eating, determined to be on his feet, preferably jumping. I predict that he will skip the crawling stage and within weeks be walking, if not running! 

Every day of the initial year leads to new developments, discoveries; babbling that slowly evolves into the first words and then a torrent of phrases. Even when pre-verbal, babies are so expressive, through their gurgling, variations of crying, body language and intense eyes. If only one could capture the special moments and pop them into little glass bottles, immutable and ever present. But time flows quickly; each phase brings new joys and precious memories one can only store away in one's heart, eternalize on film or video, write about in diary form for all to enjoy for years to come.
Wishing everyone a Happy Valentine's day, whatever form it may take! And of course, huge congratulations on CAL's 7th Anniversary that falls on Feb. 14th. My heartfelt thanks to the founder and each and every contributor to our blog, as well as to our faithful readers spread out across the globe.
With much love, as always,

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Happy Birthday "One World: CAL" G2 & Happy Valentine's Day! (Proud to be 7!)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy 7th anniversary "One World: Chinese Adoptee Links International" 
(CAL G2 - est. Feb. 14, 2007).

Thank you for everyone's continued support and belief in our aspirations, goals, hopes and visions for a fantastic and growing global community.

We wouldn't be here without you.

Muchas gracias.

Much Love,

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Happy Lunar New Year!

Dear One Worlders,

This is going to be a very special year for everyone, the year of the Green Horse! Wishing you health, happiness and prosperity, but most of all passion for whatever path you embrace. May you find the required patience and strength to pursue your goals no matter what challenges you encounter and be rewarded with a deep sense of gratitude and satisfaction as you overcome hurdles, large and small, and achieve your dreams.

Our entire life is an ongoing journey. Always look forward and seek out what calls to you, but do not forget to look back upon past experiences that helped you to develop into the person you are, and relish the present moment, in all its fullness. Be true to yourself and just be yourself!

Happy New Year to all.

With much love,


Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Year of the Horse!

Dear Inspirational Readers and Fellow One Worlders,
Wishing you health, happiness and much laughter during this New Year of the Horse.
Much Love, Jennifer

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Corn-loving Porcupine

Now and then we all need a good laugh. Hope you enjoy this enchanting creature. Though I have encountered many porcupines in my life, especially in Vermont, I never heard one utter noises like Teddy, nor have been able to tame one.

[copy and paste link into your browser to view video]

However, I have heard porcupines fighting in the apple trees, had one chew through the brakes lines of my car, gnaw at the wood left outside and waddle across the lawn at night, lit up by my headlights.

A Baby Porcupine photographed in Vermont

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Twinkie by: Jessie Lutz

They call me twinkie.
An American classic.
White cream nestled in a fluffy yellow cake.
Yellow on the outside white on the inside.
Overwhelmingly sweet.

But there is nothing sweet about being stuck between two worlds.
Too white-washed for China, too Chinese for America.
A foreigner wherever I go.

Somehow my Asian exterior is synonymous with:
mathematician, pianist, geek.
And so when I can’t do math homework,
or play 7 instruments,  
or fix their computers, they call me

A sickening sweet novelty 
wrapped in ignorance.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Musings on Philomena Lee, Starring Judi Dench


For me, any film with Judi Dench, one of the grandes dames of all times along with Maggie Smith, Vanessa Redgrave and Helen Mirren, is irresistible. I had read various reviews on Philomena Lee, based on a true story,  and heard enthusiastic reports from friends who raced to see it when it premiered.

Last week I set off on my own to share the journey of a birth mother who had kept her son Anthony's existence a secret for 50 years. Both as an adoptee and social activist, I was eager to experience for myself the searing tale of the young Irish girl who conceived a child out of wedlock and, as hundreds of others trapped in her situation, ended up a victim of the Irish Catholic nunneries. Victimized as a young mother whose child was whisked away from her, and as a virtual slave, coerced to toil in the laundry room to pay off her debt.

Philomena is a simple woman who accepted her lot and mistreatment as a form of retribution for her "sin." But towards the end of her life, she feels driven to search for her first born son whom she has thought of daily and loved, not knowing where he might be or what had become of him. Judi Dench embodies Philomena to such a degree that we forget the actress and come to identify with the wide range of emotions so subtly conveyed by the distraught yet fiercely determined mother.
I highly recommend this riveting film, exquisitely brought to life by the protagonists, and a powerful reminder that over the centuries and to this day, while adopted children have often struggled and continue to battle with issues of identity, belonging, loss and grieving, even when happily melded with their [adoptive] families, birthmothers have experienced life-long pain and longing to know the fate of the babies they were so often forced, against their will, to relinquish.

With much love to all One Worlders,

An insightful article from the New York Times: