Imagine not being able to find out who you were when you were born? Knowing that the information exists but you do not have the right to access it? Jean Strauss’s documentary Adopted: For The Life Of Me follows several adult adoptees as they embark on journeys to find their origins. Each are met with their own set of challenges, which highlight the impact that secrets can have over an entire lifetime.
For The Life Of Me is unique in that it focuses on older adults and the elderly and how the secrets of their adoption have impacted their entire lives. Many in the film are unable to find any resolution and are left with this unknown lost part. Birth records of closed adoptions were originally sealed in order to protect the privacy of the birth mother and decrease the stigma of illegitimacy. The film shows the negative impact that withholding information can have on the adoptee, the birth mother, and their relationship. Strauss follows one adult male who is able to obtain his birth certificate after Massachusetts unsealed the records. He is able to find information about his birth mother and learns that she had passed away only a few years ago and had wanted to meet him. He also learns the secrets that his mother had to carry about his adoption and how it followed her through her life.
The film shows the advocacy work that is being done to reverse laws against people gaining access to their birth certificates. There are currently only 12 states within the U.S. in which adult adoptees can gain access to their original birth certificates. Within those twelve states many of them have restrictions and stipulations that don’t allow access to birth certificates. For example, in Massachusetts an adult adoptee can only get their original birth certificate if they were born on or before July 17, 1974 or on or after January 1, 2008.
This film is a highly recommended for anyone in the adoption field. It is important for people to be aware of the unjust challenges that adult adoptees face.