Extended Family is a personal story about the links between adoptive and birth families in the US and Guatemala. It explores whether adoptive families should search for their young children’s birth families—and what happens when they do.
I set out to make this video to explore the questions and issues that came up for me after my husband and I adopted our son from Guatemala. It wasn’t until I was actually in Guatemala to complete the adoption process that I began to see and struggle with the issues that come from adopting across countries, cultures and socioeconomic classes. I returned to Guatemala to work on an education project hoping to somehow help improve the circumstances that left women with limited options when they got pregnant. While I was there, I met a “searcher” who connects adoptive and birth families, and began thinking about whether we should try to connect with our son’s mother now, when we have a better chance of finding her, or if we should wait until he was old enough to decide for himself. We decided to search, and the process raised many of the issues that are at the center of this video: Do the birth mothers want to hear from us? Do we put them in danger by contacting them? Who should drive the relationship (us, our young kids, the birth mother)? What can we or should we do if we find our child’s family living in brutal conditions? How do you avoid setting up some expectations that your child may or may not want to fulfill when he gets older? Ultimately, the film is about mothers—birth and adoptive—trying to figure out how to do what’s right for their kids.
–Jill Hodges, Writer/Director