Adoption is beautiful. There is nothing that reminds us of our humanity and reliance on one one another quite like a family inviting a child in need into their home and loving him or her as their own child. While we often hear the stories of the endearing families that adoption creates, we cannot forget the stories of the brave children who are placed for adoption. The new Academy Award nominated film Lion, brings to light a more nuanced side of adoption, which is the story of a child before he is placed for adoption and joins his adoptive family.
The protagonist of the film, a five year old boy named Saroo, goes missing when he follows his older brother on a train in the middle of the night so that the two can work to support their family. Alone and in a foreign village, where he does not speak the language, Saroo spends months living on the streets and eating out of garbage cans. At one point, a child poacher tries to kidnap him, but he successfully escapes. Eventually, someone spots him and places him in an orphanage. This orphanage is more altruistic, and makes a real effort to find his mother and reunite him with his family. India in the 1980s is poorly connected, and his mother never sees the newspaper ads that the agency publishes.
When given the choice, Saroo has to decide between staying in the orphanage indefinitely or being adopted by a couple in Australia. Although he desperately wants to be reunited to his mother, he knows that searching for her for months has been futile, so he chooses to be adopted by a loving couple from Australia. The couple, which has always desired to love and care for children who had no one else, graciously welcome Saroo into their house.
The film, which is based off of a true story, teaches us several lessons about adoption.
- Making an earnest effort to reunite children with their biological families, if possible
Saroo is stolen by kidnappers who try to sell him. Thankfully he manages to escape. Then, in the orphanage, investigators try to find his biological family. While the search is unfruitful, it is invaluable that they make an honest effort to find his mother before placing him for adoption.
- Continuing to tell the stories of children before adoption
After being adopted, Saroo adjusts well into his family. Just shortly after moving to Australia, he learns the language and culture of his new family and country. That being said, it would be inauthentic to his roots to completely forget where he came from and how he arrived there. Saroo is incredibly brave to care for himself and survive on the streets of India at just 5 years old. It is of pivotal importance that the events that led to his adoption be recorded so that he can look back and remember the bravery that led him there.
- Remembering that it is a natural human desire to know where you come from
Saroo’s parents are kind and loving to him. They welcome him into their family, as if he was their biological child. That being said, he still desires to see his biological mother in person, thank her, and let her know that he is alright. This remind us of the natural human desire to know our biological parents, which should be respected in adoption cases, if possible.