Better, Stronger, Faster

With international adoption beginning to tighten up and the relative rarity of domestic newborns available, lots of talk has turned to how the desperately childless will obtain children. Most of this talk centers around creating children from donor eggs, donor sperm, or both. PAPs having the luxury of being able to pick out the characteristics that they desire in their potential child. Sperm from Harvard, egg from Radcliffe.

Other than the obvious arguments that occur to me in using these kind of procedures, something else occurs to me. If we have a significant number of children conceived of in these way, what are the social implications for the children? Could things take an unexpected and frightening turn?

I imagine what most would think that these children’s reactions might be very close to those of run-of-the-mill adoptees, I wonder. As an adoptee, I was always told the standard story, that I was given up by a woman that couldn’t care for me. Other adoptees and I, to a large degree, got the message that we might tend to be somewhat genetically inferior. A good deal of our struggle has always centered around that, and I think, accounts for some of the most essential way that we view ourselves, and to a great extent the way other view us.

What if we were told something different?

What if our parents had been able to choose our traits to a certain degree? What if they were proud that they had been able to afford what they considered the best genetics for us? What if they had chosen traits that were superior to their own? What if they told us, and everyone else?

How would we react to our beginnings then?

Imagine if from your earliest memories you had been told that your genes were going to make you superior to others. That you would be smart, beautiful, and athletic. That you, and those like you, were essentially better than other children. That you knew others like yourself and that the rest of the world knew that you had been earmarked for superiority. That your were “special” in a real way.

Could that sense of entitlement become part of you? If so, wouldn’t it stand to reason that you would feel that all the things that came with your legacy should automatically be yours? Would it make perfect sense to form alliances among your own kind? Sort of a Skull And Bones Cub Scout Pack?

At some point, wouldn’t you understand that if you were made out of superior genetic stuff than your parents, that they would have very little to offer to you beyond basic needs? How quickly could inferior parents come to seen as a burden?

This is all my musing, but with the climate of consumerism so prevalent in today’s society, I don’t believe it’s impossible to imagine a generation of horrible, entitled, nasty children, created by those displaying the same traits, to a lesser degree.

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Adoptee Movie Review

Since every AP in the world seems to have something to say about every movie that comes out in relation to adoption, I thought it was time to do something from the adoptee perspective.

I’m not much interested in Disney movies, or most new movies of any kind, soI’m going to review movies that I like.  Let’s start with a favorite of mine, The Night Of The Hunter.  Here’s a not too breif overview for those who haven’t seen it.

Brief Synopsis:
A bogus preacher marries an outlaw’s widow in search of the man’s hidden loot.

MPAA rating:


Runtime Listing: 90 or 93 mins.
Color/BW: Black and White
Sound: Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Cast/Crew


Click for TCM Bio

Robert Mitchum
(Preacher Harry Powell)
Shelley Winters
(Willa Harper)
Lillian Gish
(Rachel Cooper)
James Gleason
(Uncle Birdie Steptoe)
Evelyn Varden
(Icey Spoon)
Peter Graves
(Ben Harper)
Don Beddoe
(Walt Spoon)
Billy Chapin
(John Harper)
Sally Jane Bruce
(Pearl Harper)
Gloria Castilo
(Ruby)
Mary Ellen Clemons
(Clary)
>>Complete Cast and Crew

Director:
Charles Laughton
Release Date:
Sep 1955
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Des Moines, IL: 26 Jul 1955, Los Angeles opening: 26 Aug 1955, New York opening: 29 Sep 1955
Production Date:
18 Aug–7 Oct 1954 at RKO-Pathé Studios
Duration (in mins):
90 or 93
Production Company:
Paul Gregory Productions
Distribution Company:
United Artists Corp.
Country:
United States
Synopsis


During the Depression of the 1930s, Preacher Harry Powell, a murderous, self-proclaimed “man of the cloth,” travels throughout rural West Virginia believing that he is doing the Lord’s work by killing rich widows. One evening, Preacher is apprehended by the police for stealing a car and is sentenced to thirty days at Moundsville Penitentiary. Soon after, in nearby Cresap’s Landing, Ben Harper robs a bank and kills two employees. Ben races home, where his son John and young daughter Pearl are playing with her doll, Miss Jenny. Ben, who is wounded, looks for a place to stash the stolen $10,000, and after hiding it, makes John and Pearl swear never to reveal where the money is. John then watches with horror as several policemen drag Ben away. Ben winds up in a cell with Preacher, who harangues him to reveal the money’s location. Ben scornfully dismisses Preacher, who nonethless thanks the Lord for leading him to a “widow in the making.” After Ben is hanged, John watches over Pearl and ignores the taunts of other children, while Willa takes a job at Walt and Icey Spoon’s ice cream parlor. One day, John visits his only friend, Uncle Birdie Steptoe, a well-meaning drunkard who lives in a wharfboat on the river. Birdie promises to repair Ben’s skiff, but John’s happiness is tempered when Birdie reveals that he met a stranger claiming to have known Ben. When John then goes to the ice cream parlor, he finds Willa, Pearl, Icey and Walt being charmed by the smooth-talking, gospel-quoting Preacher. Preacher tells them that he worked at the penitentiary, but John remains suspicious. When Preacher spots John eyeing the tattoos of the word “LOVE” on his right hand and “HATE” on his left hand, he wins over Icey completely by dramatically telling the story of “right hand-left hand,” and how love triumphs over hate in the Bible. Icey insists that Preacher attend the town picnic the following Sunday, then begins to pressure Willa to make herself attractive to the handsome stranger. At the picnic, Willa confesses to Icey her fear that Preacher is after Ben’s stolen money, and at Icey’s prompting, asks Preacher if Ben told him about the loot. After Preacher claims that Ben told him he had thrown it into the river, a relieved Willa asserts that she now feels clean. Later, when John goes home one night, he is confronted by Preacher, who reveals that he and Willa are to be married the next day. John replies that Preacher will never be his dad, then inadvertantly blurts out that he will “never tell.” Preacher realizes that John knows where the money is hidden but, stating that they have a long time to share their secrets, allows the boy to run off. On Willa and Preacher’s wedding night, Willa is deeply ashamed when Preacher roars at her that he will not be “pawing” her as the business of their marriage is to tend the children she already has, not to beget more. Later, Willa, who desperately wants to please Preacher, leads a revival meeting with him and renounces her former sinful life. One night, Pearl is playing outside with the stolen money, which Ben had hidden in Miss Jenny, when John finds her and stuffs the bills back into the doll, just as Preacher comes to call them in. After Preacher reprimands John for telling Willa that he has been asking him about the money, Willa scolds John for lying, as she believes that Preacher is innocent. Soon after, however, Preacher locks John in his bedroom while Willa is out, and takes Pearl to the parlor to question her. As Willa is coming home, she overhears Preacher threaten to tear off the little girl’s arm if she does not reveal the money’s hiding place. That night, as Willa lies in bed, she realizes that Preacher always knew that Ben did not throw the money away, and that John knows where it is hidden. Still unable to face the truth, Willa states that Preacher married her to save her soul, and lies passively as he slits her throat with his switchblade. The next morning, Preacher tearfully tells Walt and Icey that Willa has run away. While the Spoons are comforting Preacher, Uncle Birdie discovers Willa’s body, trapped in her old model-T car, in the river. Afraid that he will be blamed for the murder, Uncle Birdie returns to his boat and gets drunk. Later that day, John and Pearl are about to be apprehended by Preacher as they hide in the cellar when Icey suddenly arrives. The children reluctantly emerge at Icey’s bidding, and after Icey departs, John tells Preacher, who is badgering Pearl, that the money is buried in the cellar. Preacher forces the children to accompany him, but John succeeds in outwitting him and escapes outside with Pearl. While Preacher is attempting to break open the cellar door, John runs to Uncle Birdie for help, but finds him passed out. John then puts Pearl into Ben’s skiff and barely manages to push the little boat into the river before Preacher can catch them. Time passes as the children, relentlessly pursued by Preacher, float down the river. One morning, the sleeping children are awoken by Rachel Cooper, an elderly farmer who takes in orphaned and illegitimate children. The pragmatic but compassionate and religious Rachel currently cares for Ruby, Mary and Clary, and quickly settles John and Pearl in with her brood. One night, Ruby goes to town, supposedly for a sewing lesson, but in reality to meet boys. She is approached by Preacher, who questions her about John and Pearl. Although Ruby becomes enamored of Preacher, he leaves upon obtaining the information he seeks, and when she returns home, Ruby confesses her actions to Rachel. Rachel forgives the confused adolescent but remains worried about Preacher, who shows up the next day, claiming to be John and Pearl’s father. When John declares that Preacher is not his dad, Rachel realizes that Preacher is a fraud and chases him away with a shotgun. As he retreats, Preacher screams that he will be back that night, prompting Rachel to hold vigil with her gun. Preacher sits in the front yard, waiting, and when Rachel is distracted by Ruby, he slips into the house. When Preacher suddenly appears before her, Rachel shoots and wounds him, and he runs into the barn. Kept company by John, Rachel then waits through the night, watching the barn, until the state troopers arrive in the morning. As the men arrest Preacher, John, overcome by memories of Ben’s arrest, runs to the prone Preacher and hits him with Miss Jenny. When money pours from the burst doll, John, unable to bear the strain any longer, cries out for his father to take the money back. Later, John, incapable of looking at Preacher, is unable to identify him at his trial for Willa’s murder. After the trial, an irate Walt and Icey lead a mob to lynch Preacher, but he is snuck out the back by the police, who are assured by Bart the hangman that it will be a pleasure to carry out his duties. Later, on Christmas day, the girls give Rachel potholders, while John shyly presents her with an apple wrapped in a doily. Rachel gives John a pocket watch, and after the happy boy goes upstairs, warmly states that children continue to abide and endure.

If you haven’t seen this film, get thee to Netflix right now.    You cannot really get get the feeling of this film without seeing the simple, almost fairy tale style of the visuals in this movie.  Nor will you ever hear some very popular Christian hymns the same way ever again, after hearing Robert Mitchum sing them.  There is a reason this movie makes the top 10 creepiest movies of all time lists.

This is a movie about good and evil.  And it features the evilest adoptor ever.   Mitchum, as Powell embodies everything creepy and evil about adoptive parents doing the Lord’s work.  The way he charms everyone but John, the adopted son, is truly disturbing and works at some level as an example of how adoption is seen from outside the community.  This nice man willing to marry this woman with these two children and claim them as his own.  No one even thinks to look closer into what his motivations might be for doing so.  Everyone simply takes his actions at face value.  He is made the saint.

Powell’s manipulation, degradation, and finally murder of the children’s mother, Willa(played wonderfully by a young Shelly Winters) could be seen as an example of how first Mothers are treated.  She is charmed, rebuked for her sexuality, forced to publicly repent for sins that were not her own, and finally killed and tossed away when she is no longer of use.   Powell tells everyone that she has run-off to seek the pleasures of the flesh.

In a particularly chilling scene when Uncle Birdie sees Willa’s body at the bottom of the river, he is frightened to silence fearing that he would be blamed, as he is an outcast.  At this point only he and young John see Powell for who he is, and both are powerless to convince anyone else.  One has to think of Uncle Birdie as the adult adoptee desperately wanting to look out for the child in this situation.

John does convince his sister Pearl to run away with him and after a  journey with Powell on their heels, one of the most disturbing parts of the film, they do find an advocate in Rachel Cooper (Lillian Gish, still sweet and angelic in old age).  This woman has taken in many children and works as the example of the perfect adoptive parent.  The children have found their way to her, she has not asked for them. She accepts the children as they are, warns them of dangers, but allows them to work through their pain and problems as they must.  She defends the children from Powell, while singing a duet with him, shotgun in hand, in one of the oddest best scenes ever.  Then allows the children to heal in their own time.    She gets it.

In the first and last scenes in the film Rachel Cooper is portrayed almost as an angel among the heavens.  Possibly an overstatement of the role of good adoptive parent, but it works.

I’ve Got Some Catching Up To Do

But first I want to thank Joy and Michelle.   Both are unique and wonderful.

Joy, thank you for just being you.  The way you express yourself and are so open to the things that you are feeling has shown me how to get to those things in myself.  That is a gift, and your generosity with that gift has helped me and so many others, that there is no way to thank you enough.  Thank you for taking me along on our adventure to The Adoption Show, it came at a time that I needed something fun, different, and worthwhile.  It was all of those things.  It meant a lot to me.

But most of all, thank you Joy, for being my friend.  Thank you for sharing experiences with me, similar and dis-similar.  Thank you for helping me balance this tightrope between comedy and tragedy that we walk.  Thank you for gently putting me back in place when I need it.  Again, just thank you for being you.

Michelle, thank you for all the hours of hard work you put into your show.  Thank you for giving those that might not find an outlet for their stories anywhere else, a place to reach others.   Thank you for putting up with all the bullshit that comes with telling truths that are hard for some to hear.  Thank you for thinking that Joy and I have something to add to these stories, it is a honor to be included.

Thank you Michelle, for making it fun and easy.   Thank you for being the funny, warm woman that you are.  Thank you for telling me your story and your genuine interest in everybody else’s story.  Thank you for being someone I am so happy to consider an ally and friend.

Thanks to everybody else who had good things to say about the show.  Thank you Kim, Amy, Margie, for mentioning us on your blogs.  Thank you to all the readers and commenters.  You all make my day, everyday.

Now about this Thinking Blog Award.  

Joy Statuesque, thank you again, and thank you.  It does mean a lot to me to be recognized by fellow bloggers that I love to read, and I consider both of you light years beyond me.  I was going to do something silly and a bit snarky with this, but you caught me in one of my rare mellow moods.

Since everybody that I love already seems to have had this honor, I’m going to do something different.  I’m going to ask my readers to surf around and read five blogs that they haven’t read before.  There’s a lot of good stuff out there, and new bloggers coming online all the time, especially in the area of adoption.   If you see something you like, link them up, tell somebody else about them, leave a nice comment.  Make somebody’s day.

Alright, that was the last nicey-nice post you are going to get for a while.  There are a lot of things pissing me off.  I’ll be back.

MSM Look Out-I’m Coming For Ya!

I was driving home early sunday morning through bakersfield
Listening to gospel music on the colored radio station
And the preacher said, you know you always have the
Lord by your side

And I was so pleased to be informed of this that I ran
Twenty red lights in his honor
Thank you jesus, thank you lord

Well the preacher kept right on saying that all I had to do was send
Ten dollars to the church of the sacred bleeding heart of jesus
Located somewhere in los angeles, california
And next week theyd say my prayer on the radio
And all my dreams would come true
So I did, the next week, I got a prayer with a girl
Well, you know what kind of eyes she got

-Mick and Keef

That’s right folks, Joy and I are going to be on The Adoption Show this Sunday at 8:30 pm Eastern.

Give a listen.

Playing Tag

One of my good friends (who I’m not mad at) tagged me to do this.  I know there are other things I need to get to, but this looks like more fun, so I’m going to do this…

Three Things That Scare me:
Spiders

Losing someone close to me

Weird Jello salads with Cool Whip and grapes and stuff in them

Three People Who Make Me Laugh

My Dad

My Husband

Dick Cheney

Three Things I Love

May

October

My friends

Three Things I Hate

Being kept waiting

Dump and chase hockey

Mistruths

Three Things I Don’t Understand

Scrapbooking

My mother

Mandarin

Three Things On My Desk

The stupid clock with a bear on it that my employees got me last Christmas (can I add that to things I hate too?)

Green Tea

Autographed Emmylou Harris CD
Three Things I Want To Do Before I Die

Spend a month in Italy

Completely finish my house

Meet my first Mom

Three Things I Can Do

Dance

Stay calm in a crisis

Nap

Three Things I Can’t Do

Whistle

Math

Pass up a good shoe sale

Three Things I Think You Should Listen To

Adoptees

Cheap Trick

Your Grandmother

Three Things You Should Never Listen To

Authority

Creed

Fox News

Three Things I’d Like To Learn (but won’t)

Conversational German

The meaning of Life

To keep my mouth shut

Three Shows I Watched As A Kid

The Monkees

The Brady Bunch

The Duane and  Floppy Show