Recently, the most important discussions I’ve had about adoption occurred in my Mazda. For my eldest son, being adopted and Vietnamese looms large in his quest to discover himself; and in the past week, our drives have included discussions about his birth mother and birth culture, whether he is Vietnamese or American, whether he feels happy about being adopted, how “awkward” it is to have white parents.
At 13, my son isn’t sure whether adoption is always a good solution—“no offense,” he says to me—because it means he will not grow up in Vietnam, nor will he know his birth family. That kid is a thinker, and while a small part of me wishes he’d feel unalloyed joy in his adoption, I’m grateful he’s asking these questions, and that he understands the complexity of adoption.
I wish those rallying behind the new documentary, The Drop Box, could also interrogate adoption as my son does. Instead, the movie mythologizes orphan care in ways even my preadolescent kids might find troubling. Presented by Focus on the Family, The Drop Box is marketed as a heartwarming celebration of life (and indeed, the film won the Sanctity of Life award from the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival). Yet, the reality of baby boxes undermines the family values the movie purports to champion.
The documentary follows South Korean pastor Lee Jong-rak, who created the baby box as a way for birth mothers, burdened by social stigma or poverty, to safely and anonymously relinquish their children rather than what Pastor Lee believes the alternative: abortion. Pastor Lee is portrayed as a hero, caring for his country’s most vulnerable orphans—and, by extension, spreading ...1
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