Adoption and donor-conception in the cinema
"The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it's as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues." - Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures
Without Our Consent: A Queensland Story
The Without Our Consent: A Queensland Story is a digital memorial project made by the State Library of Queensland in partnership with Jigsaw Queensland's Forced Adoption Support Service. It features interviews with Queenslanders affected by these practices. They include interviews with Anne, a mother who was forced to give her child up for adoption, Jo, one of the many children who grew up with an adoptive family and Alan, a father who was coerced into placing his son for adoption.
Their reflections on their experiences during the forced adoption era are joined by interviews from representatives of post adoption organisations (Dr Trevor Jordan from Jigsaw Qld, Trish Large OAM from ALAS Australia, Kerri Saint from Association for Adoptees, Linda Bryant from Origins Qld) and Queensland politicians, Tracy Davis a former Queensland MP and former Senator Claire Moore.
Click the photo below or here to watch.
Love Child is an Australian drama television series that follows the lives of staff and residents of the fictional Kings Cross Hospital and Stanton House in Sydney, starting in 1969 and continuing into the 1970s. The program is based on the forced adoption era in Australia and relies heavily on the senate inquiry report for accuracy. The series ran for four seasons. Box sets of all seasons can be purchased online and at the time of publication, it was available for viewing through the streaming service Stan.
Gone to a Good Home
Gone to a Good Home is an Australian documentary based on the Forced Adoption era. It is accessible to borrow through the Jigsaw Qld library.
Imagine seeing someone on YouTube who looks just like you. After some digging on Facebook, you find out this person lives on the other side of the world, but was born on your birthday. Could there be another YOU out there? That's how French adoptee Anais Bordier met American adoptee Samantha Futerman.Twinsters is a 2015 documentary film which covers the true-life story of identical twin sisters, separated at birth, discovering each other on-line, meeting, confirming their identity with a DNA test, and exploring aspects of their background together. It is available for purchase or rental at Vimeo.
Philomena is a 2013 British-French drama film directed by Stephen Frears, based on the 2009 book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by journalist Martin Sixsmith. Starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, it tells the true story of Philomena Lee's 50 year search for her forcibly adopted son (in Ireland) and Sixsmith's efforts to help her find him. The film is available on Netflix at the time of publishing and is available for lending through the Jigsaw Qld library.
Lion is a 2016 biographical drama film directed by Garth Davis based on the 2013 non-fiction book, A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley. It tells the true story of how Brierley, 25 years after being separated from his family in India, sets out to find them. It is a joint production between Australia and the United Kingdom.
Three Identical Strangers
Three Identical Strangers is a 2018 documentary film about the lives of Edward Galland, David Kellman, and Robert Shafran, a set of identical triplets adopted as infants by separate families. It explores the unethical practices that occurred surrounding adoption in the USA. At the time of publication it was streaming on STAN and is available for purchase online.
ABC & SBS
ABC & SBS often have great shows and documentaries about adoption-related stories and issues. Below are links to several you may find of interest.
S 2020 Ep 32 DNA Secrets
S 2019 Ep 32 Adopted Abroad
S 2018 Ep 35 DNA Surprises
S 2016 Ep 15 Family Secrets
ABC Louis Theroux's Altered States: Take My Baby (Trigger warning - this film features scenes of mothers actively being courted to place their babies for adoption).
All She Ever Wanted (1996) TVM; Marcia Cross, James Marshall; The Stockmans are the perfect couple...young, successful, and deeply in love...but they have one problem: They want children. Since Rachel suffers from severe bi-polar disorder that has to be controlled by lithium, she can't risk getting pregnant. But because of her mental health history, they are bad candidates for adoption. Finally Rachel gives up on the system, and does things her own way...she goes off her drugs and gets pregnant. The ensuing nine months get worse and worse for the young woman, as there are legal battles to end her pregnancy in order to force her back on the drug.
Anne of Green Gables (1934) Anne Shirley; Classic tale of orphan being adopted by a brother and sister to help on a farm in Nova Scotia. Superior 1985 remake starring Megan Follows, Coleen Dewhurst, and Richard Farnsworth was followed by a sequel in 1987 called Anne of Avonlea. Followed by a Disney TV series and a sequel film in 2000.
Anne With An E - A recent adaptation of the Anne of Green Gables books that explores identity issues. Currently available on Netflix.
Baby Business (1995) Documentary; Increasingly, middle-class families in the developed world who are unable to have children seek to adopt in the Third World where middlemen are making money out of misery and turning international adoption into a trafficking operation in babies. In El Salvador, women tell how soldiers snatched their babies from their arms during the civil war, babies who were later adopted abroad. In Central America, stolen children are kept in illegal nurseries and women are paid to act as mothers, giving them up for adoption. Also shown is the situation of the man in Mississippi, the natural father of a baby who was given up for adoption without his consent. Nevertheless, elimination of the middlemen allows humanitarian programs such as the one in Haiti, under which two British Columbian families adopt babies from unfortunate families seeking a secure future for their children.
The Baby Maker (1970) Barbara Hershey; Tish Gray had a baby and gave it up for adoption. She is contacted by a second childless couple who want her to have the husband's baby because of the wife's inability to have children. She accepts but finds that knowing the parents, and developing a relationship with them for the entire pregnancy complicates the simple arrangement.
Baby M (1988) TVM; JoBeth Williams, Dabney Coleman; Above average treatment of the famous surrogate mother story.
Bachelor Mother-1939; Ginger Rogers, David Niven; Rogers becomes the guardian for an abandoned baby.
The Bad Seed (1956) Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack; Sweet looking 8 year old girl is a liar and a murderess; her adoptee mother finds out the truth and tries to commit suicide. Remade as a 1985 TV movie.
The Bigamist (1953) Edmond O’Brien, Joan Fontaine, Ida Lupino, Edmund Gwenn; Harry and Eve Graham are trying to adopt a baby. The head of the agency senses Harry is keeping a secret and does some investigating. He soon discovers Harry has done an unusual amount of traveling from his home in San Francisco to Los Angeles. Harry gets tracked down in LA where he has a second wife and a baby. Via flashbacks, Harry tells the adoption agent how he ended up in two marriages. Directed by Ida Lupino.
The Big City (1948) Margaret O’Brien, Robert Preston, Danny Thomas, George Murphy; Maudlin drama has O’Brien adopted by three men.
Black Market Baby (1977) Linda Purl; Desi Arnez Jr.; A pregnant college student fights a baby selling ring.
Blossoms in the Dust (1941) Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon; The Edna Mae Gladney Story on film; she is one of the reasons adoption records were sealed, to “protect” adoptees from the bastard label. One of the first Technicolor movies. Garson won her second Academy Award for her performance.
Border Line (1991) TVM; Sherry Stringfield, Christopher Reid; An attorney who represents an international adoption agency in Los Angeles accidentally discovers a murder involving the agency. She then gets mixed up in an illegal operation involving Asian mothers who are forced to give up their babies. Working with a private detective and an immigration officer she eventually finds the truth.
Boulevard (1994); Kari Wuhrer, Rae Dawn Chong, Lou Diamond Philips; A young woman regularly beaten and tortured by her lover, gives birth and immediately gives the child up for adoption. This sets her on an escape from the lover on the streets of Toronto. Here she meets a hardened hooker who takes her in so she won't be arrested for vagrancy.
Broken Flowers (2005); Bill Murray, Sharon Stone, Julie Delpy, Tilda Swinton; When his latest girlfriend leaves him, retired computer magnate, Don Johnston (Bill Murray) has no greater ambition than to sit around the house. When he receives an anonymous letter from a former girlfriend claiming he has a 19-year old son he's never met, Don doesn't even think to follow up. It's not until his neighbor, a mystery fan, encourages him that, Don resolves to visit the exes who seem the most likely candidates and find out the truth.
A Child Lost Forever (1995) TVM; Beverly D’Angelo; Mother searches for her child and discovers the adoptive mother murdered him years earlier. Interesting flashback to her life at a reform school. Based on a true story.
Cradle of Conspiracy (1994) TVM; Danica McKellar, Dee Wallace Stone, Kristin, daughter of upper middle class parents, can hardly stand the immense pressure to fullfil her mother's dream of success in sports and high school. In this tense situation she gets emotional support by Kenny, who secretly plans to make her pregnant and sell the baby for adoption. Based on a true story.
Ca-bau-kan (2002); Lola Amaria; A women from Holland returns to Indonesia, the country of her roots. When she was a little child she was given up for adoption and now she is ready to discover the story of her life. She finds out that the truth about both her parents is very revealing, shocking at times, but comes to terms with her past.
Daddy and Papa (2002); A documentary written and directed by Johnny Symons; Daddy & Papa explores the growing phenomenon of gay fatherhood and its impact on American culture. Through the stories of four different families, Daddy & Papa delves into some of the particular challenges facing gay men who decide to become dads. From surrogacy and interracial adoption, to the complexities of gay divorce, to the battle for full legal status as parents,
Danielle Steel’s Mixed Blessings (1995) TVM; Scott Baio, Alexandra Paul, Bruce Weitz; Three newly married couples want to start a family. However, there are a few complications, for Brad & Pilar, it's time, not only are they both very mature, Brad already has grown up daughter and is about to have a baby of her own. For Andy & Diana, it would be difficult for her to conceive, so they explore other options, like surrogacy and adoption. And for Charlie and Beth, it's the fact that he wants to be a father but she is not sure if she wants to.
Danielle Steel’s No Greater Love (1996) TVM; Kelly Rutherford, Chris Sarandon; A young infant is put up for adoption after her parents went down with the Titanic in 1912. Nearly 50 years later, now a grown woman she looks for her other siblings who she believed survived after the Titanic went down.
Dear Jesse (1997) Can you go home again? What if you're a gay man and home is a state where voters keep electing a homophobe to the US Senate? In 1996, at age 30, native son Tim Kirkman returns to North Carolina to explore the parallels and differences between himself and Jesse Helms: they're from the same town and college, with media interests, from families blessed by adoptions, Baptists by upbringing. Tim puts his camera in front of his family, a boyhood pal, college friends, his pastor, Helms fans, community activists, novelists Lee Smith and Allan Gurganus, a mayor who's gay, and people in the street, including a brief interview with Matthew Shepard. What is it to judge, and what is it to love?
Delinquent Parents (1938) Doris Weston, Maurice Murphy; Rich boy marries poor girl. Poor girl gets pregnant. Rich boy's parents don't know they're married, forbid him to see her anymore. Rich boy dumps poor girl, poor girl gives baby up for adoption. Rich boy and his family are happy, poor girl and her family are miserable.
Den Eneste ene (1999) Sidse Babitt Knudesen, Niels Olsen; This romantic comedy follows two couples in Copenhagen trying to settle down. Søs, who works in a beauty clinic, tries to live happily with her Italian husband. Soon after she tells him that she's pregnant, she discovers that he's having an affair with one of her clients at the beauty clinic. She kicks him out of the apartment just as their new kitchen arrives. Niller, the kitchen installer, is a down-to-earth kind of guy who lives a childless, but otherwise happy life with Lizzie. They're busy preparing for a child adoption, only one event will have a huge impact on both their lives just as the newly adopted girl shows up from Burkina Fasu. At the same time Niller falls head-over-heels in love with Søs.
The Divided Heart (1954) Cornell Bouchers, Yvonne Mitchell; Yugoslavian woman finds that her child, lost during World War II, has been adopted by a German family.
El Milagro de P. Tinto (1998) Luis Ciges, Silvia Casanova; Wafer factory-owner P. Tinto and his wife Olivia want a child of their own more than anything else in the world. Years of trying, however, have left them with nothing but a pair of extraterrestrial midgets living in the spare bedroom. When they decide to try adoption, a series of misroutings and chance encounters results in an escaped adult mental patient arriving at their door with adoption papers in hand. P. Tinto and Olivia accept this without question and welcome him in as their son. Can this family arrangement work? Strange but funny.
Empire of the Sun (1989) Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson; An aristocratic British youth is separated from his family at the start of World War II after the Japanese Army invades British controlled areas of China. Reduced to living on the street and fighting for food, the youth is eventually interned in a Japanese POW camp for British civilians. Here, admiration quickly develops both for captured American pilots and the Japanese themselves. When the war ends, the boy torn from everything he knew attempts to again find his parents. Directed by Steven Spielberg. While not about adoption, it does cover separation and loss in a child.
Family Plot (1976) Karen Black, Bruce Dern; Fake medium Madam Blanche and her taxi driver boyfriend make a living from her phony powers. They are hired by an aging widow, Julia Rainbird to find her nephew who was given away for adoption many years earlier following a family scandal. Meanwhile, an extremely clever couple are behind a series of kidnappings in the San Francisco area. The two couples path's cross and chaos results in Alfred Hitchcock's last film.
A Family Thing (1996) Robert Duval, James Earl Jones; Bowlegged cracker, Earl Pilcher Jr., runs an equipment rental outfit in Arkansas, lives with his wife and kids and parents, and rarely takes off his gimme cap. His mother dies, leaving a letter explaining he's not her natural son, but the son of a Black woman who died in childbirth; plus, he has a half brother Ray, in Chicago, she wants him to visit. Earl makes the trip, initially receiving a cold welcome from Ray and Ray's son, Virgil. His birth mother's sister, Aunt T., an aged and blind matriarch, takes Earl in tow and insists that the family open up to him. Co-written by Billy Bob Thornton.
A Father for Brittany; AKA A Change of Heart (1998) Australia TVM; Andrew McCarthy, Michael Learned; Keith and Kim Lussier are a childless couple who are given custody of a 3-month-old foster child, Brittany. However, tragedy strikes when Kim dies of cancer in the middle of the adoption process, leaving Keith to fight for Brittany's custody alone.
Flirting with Disaster (1995) Ben Stiller, Mary Tyler Moore, George Segal, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin; Farce about an adoptee searching for his mother.
Follow Me, Boys (1966) Fred MacMurray, Vera Miles, Kurt Russell; Disney vehicle about a Scout leader in a small town.
Footballers Wives (2002) TV Series; Drama series about the women married to members of Earls Park football team. Ian gets offered a place on the first team, while his wife Donna tries to track down the son they gave up for adoption nine years ago.
For Keeps (1988) Molly Ringwald, John Zarchen; Darcy and her long-term boyfriend Stan are in their last months of school and already have found places in good colleges. Recently they started to sleep with each other and Darcy gets pregnant. Neither Darcy's mother, who was left by her husband and had to bring up Darcy alone, nor Stan's Catholic parents are very supportive and urge them to have an abortion or give up for adoption respectively. However Darcy's and Stan's love is so intense, they could imagine to have a baby, but this would mean to give up their college carriers.
Frisco Jenny (1932) Ruth Chatterton, Louis Calhern; Frisco Jenny was orphaned by the 1906 earthquake and fire and has become the madame of prosperous bawdy house. She puts her son up for adoption and he rises to prominence as district attorney dedicated to closing down such houses. When her underling proposes killing the DA, she kills the underling and must face execution. Directed by William Wellman.
Gas Station Jesus (2001) Lori Heuring, Clayne Crawford; When a young woman opts to abort a miraculous conception, a Christian Fundamentalist group intervenes. Duped into an adoption scheme, Maggie agrees to carry the baby to term but gradually comes to suspect the entire arrangement. She ends up marooned at a rural service station, where she encounters a wise old radio preacher, Isaiah, and his reluctant prophet of a son, Manny, who end up guiding her on the rest of her journey. It's not an easy journey, however, as Maggie is stalked, chased and forced off the road. In a woodsy field, she comes face to face with her assailants and herself, as she prepares to undergo a painfully unorthodox delivery and yet another unforeseen miracle...
Here Comes the Groom (1951) Bing Crosby, Jane Wyman, Alexis Smith; Pete Garvey, foreign correspondent, has been running an impromptu adoption agency for war orphans in Paris, when an ultimatum from his erstwhile fiancée draws him back to Boston, complete with two adopted orphans to melt her heart. Too late! She's now engaged and if Pete's not married within five days, he loses the kids. Directed by Frank Capra.
High Tide (1987) Judy Davis, Jan Adele; A birthmother is stranded in an Australian trailer park only to discover her relinquished daughter.
Immediate Family (1989) Glen Close, James Fox; A wealthy, childless couple enters into an open adoption.
Jack Be Nimble (1993) Alexis Arquette, Sarah Smuts Kennedy; Jack and Dora, abandoned by their parents as babies, are desperate to find each other after years of adoption. Jack's young life has been spent with a sadistic family. Dora, whose life has been somewhat better, has developed extra-sensory powers which tell her that Jack's in danger and drives her to search for him.
Katts and Dog (1988-91) TV Series;Andrew Bednarski; "Katts and Dog", otherwise known as "Rin Tin Tin K-9 Cop", is about the life of Canine Officer Hank Katts and his partner, Rinty; how they fight crime and the forces of evil. It also shows the life of Hank's nephew, Steve; through the death of his mother and his adoption by Officer Katts.
Kiddie Kure (1940) George “ Spanky” McFarland. Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer, Robert Blake; Rich 'Old Man' Morton is a hypochondriac. The doctor suggests to Morton's wife that adopting a child might help cure Mr. Morton of his delusions. Overhearing the conversation, Morton invites the the Our Gang to lunch in order to sour his wife on children and adoption.
The Kids Are All Right (2010) Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo; Lesbian couple, Jules and Nic have been together for almost 20 years and have two teenage offspring named Joni and Laser, who were conceived via artificial insemination. Unbeknown to their mothers, Joni and Laser seek out their biological father, a restaurateur named, Paul. Complications arise when the teens bond with Paul and invite him into their lives.
The Lady is Willing (1942) Marlene Dietrich, Fred MacMurray; Bold, eccentric Broadway performer Lisa Madden befuddles her handlers by coming home with a baby she picked up on the street. She wants to keep the baby but has to find a husband to make adoption viable. Why not her new obstetrician Dr. McBain? She offers him help with his research on rabbits in exchange for marriage - and he accepts. The marriage of convenience turns into a marriage of real love. When Dr. McBain's ex-wife comes looking for money, Lisa suspects something and leaves New York. However, a serious illness with the baby brings them together again as McBain operates to try and save the baby's life.
Lazurus (1994) William Armstrong, Karen Austin, Musa Luvuno; This unusual drama with a message, set in England and filmed entirely in English, concerns a wealthy British couple of Polish descent who adopt a son because they are unable to have children. However the illegal adoption process they go through involves paying an exorbitant fee to an underground broker, and the child they receive is not the Latin American infant promised, but a strangely hardened 10-year-old from Mozambique. Desperately disappointed with their "purchase," the new parents nonetheless make fumbling efforts to make the child Lazar feel at home. But Lazar is not receptive, and behaves more like a threatened and hunted animal each day in his affluent surroundings. In time, the couple are able to communicate with the boy to discover that he saw his family die and was forced to accompany the army, where along with other children he was trained to execute prisoners in mass killings. Lazar ultimately develops the will to try to become a child again, but he feels constantly endangered by the wealthy new world around him. One day he runs away, stealing a weapon from his favorite new grandfather. When police rounds up of him, it looks like the boy tries to defend himself
Les Cigognes n’en font qu’a leaur tete (1989) Marlene Jobert, Patrick Chesnais; Married to Jeremie, Marie wants desperately to have a child. She has a 20 year old daughter from a former marriage with the police commissioner. When the gynecologist confirms they are unable to conceive a child together, they opt for adoption. However, it is a very lengthy and difficult process. When her daughter meets Joanna, a pregnant teenager willing to give up her child for adoption, Marie is thrilled. And so Joanna moves in...
Little Girl Lost (1988) Tess Harper, Frederick Forrest
Little John (2002) TVM; Gloria Reubens, Ving Rhames, Patty Duke; The unmarried daughter of a Texas rancher gives birth to an unwanted child. She puts the child up for adoption and moves away from home. Without her knowledge, her father took the boy and raised him. Twelve years later, she is now a successful family-court judge in L.A. Over the years, she has avoided her father and knows nothing of the child. That all changes when he decides that is time she knew her own child and heads for L.A. However, he quickly finds that she wants nothing to do with her father and cares little about the son she never knew.
Losing Isaiah (1995) Halle Berry; Jessica Lange; White adoptive mother and black mother fight over her abandoned child.
The Lost Child (2000) TVM; Mercedes Ruehl, Jamey Sheridan; A story about Rebecca, a woman who goes in search of her natural parents and in the process finds her long lost family and her rich cultural heritage. Her adoption was never kept a secret from her while she grew up in a loving adoptive family. But her circumstances are drastically changed when her adoptive mother passes away and her father's new wife shows no interest in his child. Then, years later, after her father dies, Rebecca decides to try to find the family her dad had described to her. In response to her search, she is contacted by a woman on a Navajo reservation who is looking for her twin siblings who were stolen from their mother soon after they were born. The women soon realize that they are sisters and Rebecca is welcomed with open arms on a visit to the reservation. But when her husband, Jack, comes to see them, the differences between the two cultures rise to the surface, and Rebecca must integrate the old and the new so that her whole family can be together happily.
Made in China: The Story of Adopted Children from China (2000) TVM; Written and directed by Karin Lee. Made in China tells the poignant stories of adopted children from China, predominantly girls, who live in three distinct regions of Canada. Many of the children live with white families and face the challenge of making sense of their identity and their roots at a very young age. We meet the children in their homes, social settings and schools. They explain how they deal with issues of race, racism, abandonment and adoption, birth parents and whether they will return to China to search for their roots. Their stories reflect their inner conflicts and how they have come to terms with their hybrid identities. Sometimes tough, sometimes vulnerable, the children reveal the joys and pain of living in a visibly adoptive family.
Marvin and Tige (1983) John Cassavetes, Billy Dee Williams; Old man and orphan are thrown together to find the child’s birthfather.
Manson Family Vacation (2015) Jay Duplass, Linas Phillips, Leonora Pitts; Two brothers (one an adoptee searching for connection) tour Charles Manson murder sites. One is a devoted family man. One is devoted to The Family.
The Miracle (1991) Beverly D’Angelo, Niall Byrne; Genetic Sexual Attraction occurs when a male adoptee meets and actress who turns out to be his birthmother.
Mighty Aphrodite (1995) Woody Allen; Adoptive father searches for his child’s prostitute birthmother.
Mommie Dearest (1981) Faye Dunaway, Diana Scarwid; The adopted family life of Joan Crawford; several of her adopted children where stolen by the Tennessee Children’s Home (See Stolen Babies). Remember, NO WIRE HANGARS!
Mon Amie Max (1994) Genevieve Bujold, Marthe Keller; Catherine, a concert pianist, is surprised one night by the arrival of her best friend from childhood, Marie-Alexandrine (Max), whom she hasn't seen for 25 years. Catherine and Max were Québec's most promising young pianists in the mid-1960's when the adventurous Max gets pregnant. She wants to keep the child, but her mother forces her to give him up for adoption; afterwards, Max leaves Québec and music. Now, years later, she returns, obsessed with finding her son. She locates the adoption records, and social services contacts her son to ask if he wants to see her. He refuses, but she keeps trying. Is a relationship with him possible? And what about her musical talent?
My Own Private Idaho (1992) River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves; Two teenagers search for the birthmother of one of them.
Next of Kin (1984) Patrick Tierney; Berge Fazlian; Twenty-three-year old Peter Foster is an only child who lives at home, where he constantly hears his parents arguing. Because Peter does nothing all day, the family goes to a clinic where a therapist videotapes them. After Peter watches his tape, he views the tape of a troubled Armenian family, who gave their only son away for adoption when they arrived in Canada. Peter decides to visit this family, and he pretends to be their son, Bedros Deryan. The Deryan family welcomes him with open arms, and Peter tries to patch up the poor relationship between George Deryan and his daughter Azah.
Niedzielne dzieci (1977) aka Sunday Children-Polish; Ryszard Kotys, Zofia Tomaszewska-Graziewicz; A middle-aged pair of newlyweds is still without a child after two years of marriage. It's an embarassment so they decide to adopt a child. This takes time, however, and they cannot wait. The solution is to fake a pregnancy and make a deal with a young girl expecting an illegitimate child, who in turn does not want give the baby up to the adoption home. The deal is made, pregnancy faked and then the middle aged wife suddenly finds herself pregnant. Now the deal is off and the young expecting mother is facing a new decision. She does keep the baby in the end.
Nobody’s Fool (1986) Rosanna Arquette, Eric Roberts; A young birthmother tries to make the best of her life after relinquishment.
Nowhere Boy Based on John Lennon's true story of an information adoption. Available in Jigsaw Library.
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1991) BBC TVM; Based on Jeanette Winterson's international best-selling book by the same name. An adopted girl, raised by religious fanatics, realizes she is a lesbian. Episodes available on YouTube.
Oranges and Sunshine film. Based on a true story. Relates to the experiences of Forgotten Australians and British Child Migrants. Available through the Jigsaw Qld library.
Orphan Train (1979) TVM; Jill Eikenberry; Kevin Dobson; Glenn Close; Above average treatment of Dorothea Petrie’s novel about the trains that transported New York City street urchins into the American West.
The Other Mother (1995) Frances Fisher; Well done adaptation of Carol Schaeffer’s book about her relinquishment and subsequent search. Highly recommended.
Our Son, the Matchmaker (1996) David Andrews, Avis-Marie Barnes, Ellen Burstyn; As seen in flashback, this is the story of 43-year-old Julie a beautician who when 15 was forced by her mother to give up her baby for adoption. Her son, now 28, a minister, with his wife expecting, begins to search for his biological mother to find out his family medical history. She hears of his search and reunites.
Penny Serenade (1941) Cary Grant, Irene Dunne; Courtship, marriage, and the loss of two children, one who was adopted, is recollected by a divorcing women.
Prelude to Fame (1950) Robin Dowell, Guy Rolfe, Jeremy Spenser, While vacationing in Italy, Nick Morell, son of John Morell, a famous English philosopher and amateur musician and his wife Catherine, becomes friendly with young Guido, and Morell discovers the boy has an extraordinary instinct for orchestration and a phenomenal music memory. A neighboring couple, Signor and Signora Boudini become aware of the boy's talents, and she appeals to his parents to let her educate him musically. Torn by their love for their son and, they feel,the duty to let the world hear his talent, they consent. The boy is tutored by Dr. Lorenzo, Signora Bondini denies the boy all contact with his parents and everyone else except her. She also has neither sent his letters to his family, nor let him see the ones they've sent to him. He becomes phenomenally successful and makes the grand tour of Europe as Signora Bondini is enraptured by the acclaim given her through her "discovery" of the boy. She prepares to take him to America and also prepares adoption papers.
Room for One More (1952) Cary Grant; Family of five adopts a little girl. AKA as The Easy Way; later a TV series.
Samantha (1993) Martha Plimpton; Hector Elizondo; Quirky comedy-drama about an adoptee’s search after she’s told she is adopted on her 21st birthday. Not for all tastes; the reunion is very strange!
The Search (1948) Montgomery Clift; American GI in post-WW2 Europe helps a boy find his mother.
Second Best (1994) William Hurt; Lonely, middle-aged man in England adopts a lonely teen. Tremendous performance by William Hurt as the adoptive single father.
Secrets and Lies (1996) Marianne Jean Baptiste; Successful black woman traces her birth mother to a lower-class white woman, who denies it; emotions run high as everyone's secrets are exposed.
Seetha & Carole (1998) Beata Van Berkom, Archana; This is the story of a tug of war between two women, one Canadian, the other East Indian, over the same child. A Canadian woman, who has suffered two miscarriages, decides to adopt a child in India. The child she selects was sold to an adoption agency by his impoverished father who hopes adopted parents will give the child a better life in America. The problem is that the child's mother knows nothing of the plan. When she does find out, she wants the child back.
The Shipping News (2001) Kevin Spacey, Julianna Moore; An inksetter in New York, Quoyle returns to his family's longtime home, a small fishing town in Newfoundland, with his young daughter, after a traumatizing experience with her mother, Petal, who sold her to an illegal adoption agency. Though Quoyle has had little success thus far in life, his shipping news column in the newspaper "The Gammy Bird" finds an audience, and his experiences in the town change his life.
Sioux City aka Ultimate Revenge (1994) Lou Diamond Phillips directs and plays the role of a doctor who gets suspended on his birthday. At his adopted parents home, he has a party at which one of the gifts is an American Indian necklace with a note from his birth mother who he has not heard from since he was given up for adoption when he was very young. In the note she wishes to see him. So he leaves to visit her only to arrive a few days after her death. He visits the local sheriff because he is curious of the circumstances of his mother's death. He then heads out to the reservation in search of any relatives he may have. He runs into his grandfather who is kind of a witch doctor. On the way back to town he is attacked by some of the sheriff's men who try to kill him. They leave him for dead, but he is rescued. He then decides to perform an Indian ritual where he hallucinates or has visions to try to identify why he was attacked. He has visions and discovers the reason he was given up for adoption was because his father was the local sheriff. He didn't love the birthmother and ordered her to give him up for adoption...
Soapdish (1991) Sally Fields, Kevin Kline; Genetic Sexual Attraction occurs on a soap opera set between a birthfather and a daughter he is unaware of.
Stolen Babies (1993) TVM; Lea Thompson, Mary Tyler Moore; Social worker exposes the Tennessee Children’s Home Scandal. MTM is almost unrecognizable as Georgette Tanner; a long way from Laura Petrie.
Stranger Who Looks Like Me (1974) TVM; Beau Bridges, Meridith Baxter Birney, Whitney Blake; The first TV movie about adoptees searching. Watch for Patrick Duffy in the support group. Blake and Birney, who play the birthmother and adoptee, are real-life mother and daughter.
Tatsulok (1998) Amanda Page, Elizabeth Oropesa; Minda, in her forties, is having a torrid affair with the younger Dave, and is trying to hide it from her husband Chito. One day Stephanie, a Philippino-American who came to the Philippines on a cultural discovery tour, turns up at Minda's house claiming she is her daughter, whom she gave away for adoption twenty years earlier. Stephanie has questions about her adoption that Minda is unwilling to answer.
The Ten Commandments-1956; Charleton Heston, Yul Brynner; Adoptee searches for his past and leads his people to freedom.
Terror in the Shadows (1995) TVM; Marcy Walker; Five years ago, Christine went after the baby she gave up for adoption, claiming he'd been stolen, and wound up killing Alex Williams' wife and the baby the Williams' had adopted. Now, Alex has remarried to a woman with a young son and when Christine escapes from a mental institution, she heads straight for Alex, looking for revenge.
Their Second Chance aka The Keller/Keller Story (1997) TVM; Lindsay Wagner, Perry King, Tracy Griffith; Twenty eight years ago, Barbara and Larry were college lovers and Laurie was conceived. They were unmarried, young and afraid and decided to put her up for adoption. She now returns to their lives and through persistence, re-unites them.
Thief (1981) James Caan, Tuesday Weld; A highly skilled jewel thief operates a restaraunt and a car dealership as covers for his illicitly-gained income. He falls for a woman he meets out on the town and gets hired by the local godfather to pull a few heists. In return, the mob arranges a steady flow of cash and a black-market adoption for Frank and his girlfriend. When Frank tries to quit the mob, various bad things happen to illustrate the point that he can't quit.
Three Secrets (1949) Eleanor Parker, Patricia Neal; A five-year-old boy is the sole survivor of a devastating plane crash in the mountains of California. When the newspapers reveal the boy was adopted and that the crash occurred on his birthday, three women begin to ponder if it's the son each gave up for adoption. As the three await news of his rescue at a mountain cabin, they recall incidents from five years earlier and why they were forced to give up their son. Remade as a TV movie with Jacyln Smith and Tyne Daly in 1999.
Thursday (1998); Thomas Jane; A former L.A. drug dealer has moved to Houston to make a new life for himself as a married architect. Everything falls apart when he is suddenly visited by one of his former cohorts who comes carrying heroin. Discovering the dope, the architect flushes it down the drain. Michael Jeter also appears as a psychologist from an adoption agency where the couple is seeking to adopt a child.
The Tie That Binds (1995) Darryl Hannah, Keith Carradine, Moira Kelly, Vincent Spano; John and his wife Leann are fugitives who are both wanted for murder. They have a young daughter named Janie. John and Leann are in the process of robbing a house when the two residents of the house show up. John kills the two residents and heads back to the car with Leann - only to discover the police waiting for them. John and Leann get away after a cop shoots John, and Janie is placed up for adoption. Janie is soon adopted by southern California carpenter Russell Clifton and his wife Dana - and what they don't know is that they're in for the fight of their lives. John and Leann are trying to locate Janie and will stop at nothing to find her, even if it means killing whoever is in their way.
To Each His Own (1946) Olivia DeHaviland, John Lund; During World War 1, small-town girl Josephine Norris has an illegitimate son by an itinerant pilot. After a scheme to adopt him ends up giving him to another family, she devotes her life to loving him from afar.
To Find My Son (1980) TVM; Richard Thomas, Steve Kanaly; Single man experiences difficulty when he tries to adopt an 8 year-old boy.
Track 29 (1988) Christopher Lloyd, Gary Oldman, Theresa Russell; A doctor's wife tires of his obsession with model trains, and spends her days wondering about the son she gave up for adoption at birth. While eating at a roadside cafe, she encounters a British hitchhiker, who turns out to be her son. They spend time together trying to find a bond. The son begins to hate the husband, and the wife begins worrying about the safety of her husband.
The Tunnel of Love-1958; Doris Day, Gig Young, Richard Widmark; Comedy about a married couple trying to adopt a child. Somewhat far-fetched, it was directed by Gene Kelly.
Two Family House (2000) Michael Rispodi, Kelly Macdonald; An unseen narrator looks back to 1956, on Staten Island, when Buddy, an Italian guy with big dreams, buys a house planning to live upstairs with his wife Estelle and run a bar downstairs. The first problem is Estelle's lack of confidence in Buddy. Then, Irish tenants upstairs refuse to move and won't pay rent; plus, the woman upstairs is about to have a baby. The next problem is the baby: once he's born, it's clear his father was Black. The Irish guy splits; Buddy evicts mother and child, then feels guilt and sets her up in a flat while she sorts out an adoption. Estelle's lack of faith, the Irish lass's spirit, Buddy's dream, racial prejudice, and the baby's fate play out.
Upper Middle Bogan - a comedy based on an adoption reunion, but highlights true issues that impact those affected by adoption. Available on Netflix and other streaming services.
Women in Hiding (1940) Marsha Hunt; This Crime Does Not Pay series 22 minute short focuses on unwed mothers, specifically those who believe that they cannot confide in anyone and, therefore, go to clinics run by people more interested in profit than proper medical care. In this dramatization, women pay $500 to enter a clinic and must sign papers in which they agree to give up their babies for adoption. Childless couples then pay the clinic operators $500 to adopt the children.
White Banners (1938) Claude Rains, Fay Bainter, Jackie Cooper; A homeless woman named Hannah drifts into the lives of the kindly Ward family, in a small Indiana town in 1919. Hannah makes herself useful as a cook and housekeeper and stays with the Wards... but her real interest is in meeting their neighbor, teenager Peter Trimble. It turns out that Peter is the son she bore out of wedlock and gave up for adoption, and now Hannah has returned to town to see what sort of young man her son has become.
Wong Fei-hung tsi sam: Siwong tsangba (1993) Wong Fei-Hung and sidekick Chung arrive in Peking just as the Empress announces a Lion Dance martial arts contest. Also accompanying him is Aunt Yee, his young, Westernized aunt-by-adoption, to whom Wong is secretly betrothed. Wong faces a possible romantic rival in a Russian diplomat, Tumanovsky, whom Aunt Yee knew back in school.
You Should Be Grateful (2018) This film was made to coincide with a getaway for adult adoptees in the Adelaide Hills. It features five adopted people revealing their most personal experiences of adoption and how it has affected their lives. Jigsaw Qld has a copy in their library for borrowing.