' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Lion: An adoptee returns home

Friday, January 13, 2017

Lion: An adoptee returns home

If you haven't already seen Lion, grab a hankie and catch it before it is gone. Besides being a compelling story and a well acted film, it reinforces what we who live adoption know to be true: the need to know one's original family is universal. It could be the story of a young girl from Kansas or a weary warrior in Greece. No matter how difficult the journey, it must be attempted.

Lion is based on the Saroo Bierley's memoir "A Long Way Home." Five-year- old Saroo lives in abysmal poverty with his mother, sister and older brother, Guddu, in a small village in India. One evening he goes with Guddu, whom he adores, to the train station. Guddu tells him to wait there while he seeks work. When, after many hours, Guddu does not return, Saroo crawls into a train and falls asleep. The train leaves the station. He is unable to get off the train until it arrives in Calcutta several days later. Saroo has to survive on the mean streets, which is particularly difficult because he speaks Hindi, not Bengali, the language of Calcutta.  Eventually he is taken to an orphanage which arranges his adoption by a kind and loving Australian couple, Sue and John Bierley. The contrast between the hovel where he lived for his first five years and the Bierley's beautiful home and opulent surroundings in Tasmania could not be more stark.

Jane

The film fast forwards to the adult Saroo (Dev Patel) who, after meeting several Indians in Melbourne where he is attending school, learns that he might be able to find his village through Google Earth by calculating the likely distance from his village to Calcutta based on the amount of time he was on the train. He begins his search, then stops, frustrated by his lack of success and guilt over whether he is being disloyal to his adoptive family, Eventually he resumes his search encouraged by his girlfriend.  The film ends with his tearful reunion with his mother and sister. He learns that his brother was hit by a train and killed the night he left Saroo at the station. A note at the end tells us that the Indian government has created programs to reunite lost children with their families.

As a mother who lost a child to adoption, a couple of scenes were particularly meaningful. Saroo does not want to leave the hell hole of the orphanage for the promised better life in Australia because he fears he will not be able to find his mother once he leaves. It is only after the social workers assures him they have done everything they can to find his mother, that he accepts being adopted. (Their actual search consisted of running newspaper ads which was worthless because his mother could not read.)

In an emotional scene between Saroo and his adoptive mother, played by adoptive mother Nicole Kidman, Saroo tells her how sorry he is that she was not able to have her own children. She corrects him, telling him that she was not infertile but chose to adopt believing there were already too many people in the world. I cringed. How much better if she had used her resources to help children stay with their families. I wonder if Kidman realized how wrong Sue was.--jane

PS: Kidman has two adult adopted children with Tom Cruise (and she appears to be estranged from them, neither parent apparently was at the daughter's 2015 wedding), and both appear to be involved with Scientology, which would prohibit them from talking to Kidman, who left the cult. She also has two young biological children with signer Keith Urban, at least one born via surrogacy, as Kidman by then was in her mid 40s.

I heard that the incomparable Indian actor, Dev Patel, was dying to get Lion made so he could play the part. His breakout role was in Slumdog Millionaire, and he later starred in the Marigold Hotel movies as the young man trying to keep the quixotic hotel going. He's a wonderfully expressive actor, always interesting to watch. He was born in London to parents of Indian descent. I also loved his role in HBO's Newsroom. He's already racking up awards and nominations. Lion hasn't come to my part of the world yet, I'm dying to see it.--lorraine


I finally saw Lion myself and while it's good it never really got on fire for me. The first part of the story felt like a documentary, and then there is Sooro's obsession to find his mother, which while portrayed correctly had a one-note feel to it. The reunion scene with his mother is played perfectly, but overall as a movie movie that people want to see again and again...I found Lion lacking.
It did leave me wondering how many people are going to rush to India to clean out those orphanages, and the corruption and kidnapping that is part of the industry. I also mused how prospective adoptive parents might feel--the scene at the end where the actual people are filmed--Soroo, both of his mothers--was a good ending. Soroo's natural 'mum" does thank the adoptive "mum" for giving her son a good life, and in this context, it seemed right. It certainly portrayed the intensity of the emotions that Soroo felt to find his way back home. I'm a crier, and though I did cry, it was not buckets.--lo
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A Long Way Home: A Memoir
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was an awesome, harrowing, frightening, poignant, story of little 5 year old boy, lost in Calcutta. His instincts
kept him alive, avoiding starvation, capture by nefarious men, and being beaten up by other homeless kids. His
whole existence centered around searching for food. Hunger was always with him. This story makes you wonder 
why India doesn't try to help the millions and millions of its citizens whose lives revolve around searching for food
and getting clean water. This boy finally trusted someone who brought him to a place for homeless children, and
then he was moved to an orphanage The orphanage was run by a caring lady whose job was to find homes to 
place the orphans. Saroo's life took a complete turn in another direction when he was placed with a family in 
Australia. I can't wait for the movie to come out staring Dev Patel. I really hated the book to end. Saroo thrives in his
new life, with the love of a mother and father. But he always wonders what happened to his mother and brothers 
and sister in India. He knows his mother would never stop hoping he would return home. He uses modern 
technology, Google Earth, on his computer to try to find his home in India, but he is relying on his 5 year old memory.

7 comments :

  1. I think I remember reading about these events in the newspaper. Astonishing, his journey, and so glad he made it. But his poor, poor mother - losing two sons in one night, one being killed by a train, the other disappearing on a train. My heart breaks for her.

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  2. btw, older women even post-menopausal women can be surrogate mothers. i don't know the details of why surrogacy was chosen in nicole's situation. but it is the mother's egg supply and the health of those eggs that are at issue as a woman ages, generally speaking. of course each woman may have another reason such as endometriosis or another condition that could in time make her unable to carry a child to term.

    but i know for a fact that an older women can be surrogates. they are the types of candidates i was looking for what i considered surrogacy. i was taking depakote at the time and needed to stay on it - which you can't do and carry a baby (it's not recommended.) my eggs were judged to be fine at the time.i was looking at two candidates, one in her late 40s and one in her 50s, both of whom had their own adult kids and one of whom was an expectant grandmother. both of them had been surrogate mothers before. they stated they loved pregnancy, but did not want to raise anymore children. they loved being able to help another woman or couple have her or their own baby. the women said and my doctor explained to me that regardless of post-menopausal state, they could carry a baby to term, that it was more about the health of their reproductive system than anything else. with the right hormones, things can function as they do regardless. and hormone levels are generally always monitored in a surrogate situation, to optimize the safety of the pregnancy for birth mother and child.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm. interesting. My daughter was on Depakote during her pregnancies, no problem at all. Two healthy very bright daughters, if I say so myself. Because of my daughter's seizures, she had to stay on Depakote.

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    2. yes, for some reason, if you had epilepsy, you HAD to stay on it and i don't know why they did not tell those women to get off of it. perhaps the dosage was different? i remember reading, in the depakote material, do not stop taking this if you are epileptic. that's all i know about epilepsy.

      i do know that the dosage that i was taking, originally for bipolar but as time went on i recognized that it was actually working as a prophylactic for me against chronic migraines - i was told not to take it while trying for a child. in fact i spent a lot of miserable time trying to get off of it, or to try to take something else - lamictal, was one, topamax, another. both to no avail and with their own problems. but i was sternly warned - scared, as a matter of fact - into believing that if i took depakote it would be irrseponsible and i would run the high risk of having a child with spinal bifida. also i had to take pregnancy tests in order to get my meds. i was scared to go off of them, scared to stay on them.

      during the time i was (mis)diagnosed as bipolar, the definition of bipolar kept changing, rapidly, even what was circulated on the internet, and i was very much trying to stay on top of things and responsible. i was given bad advice, from many in the medical profession, that fertility hormones would likely make me feel worse, and that i'd have to guard against post-partum depression, given my condition. that i'd have to start depakote again right away and that the pregnancy would be rough. that i wouldn't be able to breastfeed.

      eventually i did try fertility hormones, once i realized that taking only one year to try to have kids in earnest was considered "infertile" - i didn't think that meant that but, okay... i'm all for trying to have a kid in the window in which i'm off depakote, before i start feeling like crap again - and to my surprise, fertility hormones made me feel GREAT ! i wish i could take them still. i never felt so free of pain and disease as i did on progesterone shots.

      anyway within a few years, i surmised that the fear of spinal bifida came from ONE study, a very small study. i cannot prove this, i only surmise this from what i have been able to find. and the study was done on epileptic women. and yet the recommendation was that epileptic women should still stay on it, but women taking it for other reasons should not? why the hell not? because, i surmise, of liability. bi-polar isn't life-threatening, and neither is chronic migraine, and there are other treatments out there that - who knows - may work just as well (in my case i never found an alternative). so no doctor felt justified in permitting us non-epileptics to take depakote while trying for a baby because they did not want to be liable if we did have a baby with spinal bifida.. it was for their protection, not ours or our babies'. i cannot prove any of that but it is my strongly-held belief.

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    3. Kiasa, you are probably right. Women with your issues were told to stay off of Depakote mainly because of liability, not a high likelihood of birth defects. One of the Jane's daughters graduated from college summa; about the other I don't know but I do know she is very intelligent.

      Although we are stretching far away from the original subject here, I learned in my mid thirties that I had severe PMS, or clinically, PMDD (just a severe form) but the whole crazy business (bloating, hunger, crazy emotions, bitchiness) was cleared up (even the monthly zits) with large doses of oral progesterone during that time, without ANY side effects. I controlled when I took it, usually at the first sign of some overreaction. I wrote about this in Hole in My Heart, along with Jane's epilepsy and her taking Depakote and the fact that I couldn't get her to take progesterone during her increasingly bad bouts of PMS. She committed suicide during PMS. I am absolutely messianic about telling women who have severe PMS to try it, but you need a doctor who understands the dosage for relief can be quite high, much higher than what is prescribed for women who might miscarriage. I fortunately had a doctor who simply prescribed it to me when the treatment was relatively new. I sometimes think it saved my life. My husband says it certainly saved our marriage.

      I'm writing about it her because PMS combined with the memory of losing our children can really push us off the ledge, metaphorically and literally. I used to be suicidal myself during PMS, and I would usually focus on not knowing where my daughter was.

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    4. Lorraine, i do remember you saying that and reading about it in Hole in My Heart. for me, it made total sense, albeit too late to help me. i have found a doctor who is giving me hormone therapy post-menopause, thankfully. but i strongly agree with you that the word cannot be spread enough, that what a boon the right hormones might be for a woman suffering from any number of PMS, PMDD issues, including migraines complicated by those issues. the fact that it is not one of the first things looked into for women of any age just dumbfounds me. and perhaps it is not a cure-all, but, too many times i think it is overlooked. it really cannot be emphasized enough. i'm so sorry for what happened with your daughter.

      Delete
  3. I finally saw Lion myself and while it's good it never really got on fire for me. The first part of the story felt like a documentary, and then there is Sooro's obsession to find his mother, which while portrayed correctly had a one-note feel to it. The reunion scene with his mother is played perfectly, but overall as a movie movie that people want to see again and again...I found Lion lacking.
    It did leave me wondering how many people are going to rush to India to clean out those orphanages, and the corruption and kidnapping that is part of the industry. I also mused how prospective adoptive parents might feel--the scene at the end where the actual people are filmed--Soroo, both of his mothers--was a good ending. Soroo's natural 'mum" does thank the adoptive "mum" for giving her son a good life, and in this context, it seemed right. It certainly portrayed the intensity of the emotions that Soroo felt to find his way back home. I'm a crier, and though I did cry, it was not buckets.

    ReplyDelete

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