Friday, March 6, 2009

A Place Between; The Story of an Adoption

I came across the documentary A Place Between in the library catalog and immediately placed a hold. Curtis Kaltenbaugh tells his story in a soft yet piercing manner. As he details his life and interviews his loved ones, his search for identity unfolds. At the age of 7 he and his younger brother were removed from their birthmother, an Ojibway from Manitoba, after the tragic death of another brother. Both boys remember the harshness of their early years; the drunken episodes and the neglect. Curtis doesn't dwell on his early reactions to his new home and family in rural Pennsylvania. However he does discuss the anger, rage, and rebellion that his younger brother clearly displays as a teen and the disruption on his adoptive family.

Curtis discusses and explores his feelings of isolation. He loves and has a connection to both of his families and yet feels separate and distinct from both of them. Interestingly, both boys choose to live in Manitoba as adults; one completely embracing his native heritage and family and the other just on the outskirts of his Ojibway community.

I found several interesting points in this documentary. The younger brother, Ashok, is gregarious and outgoing. His adoptive family felt that because of his personality, he would easily navigate the minefield of racism and teenage angst. Clearly, he did not. However, after 8 years with no contact towards his adoptive family, he warmly gives and receives their love. (A total tear inducing moment.) And he states that if he had been left with his biological mother, he would be dead now. He would not have survived his destructive tendencies in that atmosphere. His adoptive family loved him and saved him.

It's also interesting that Curtis, at the age of 30, still feels torn between 2 communities. He doesn't feel that he belongs to either one. It's not clear whether he wants to belong to one or the other. He seems to want them combined with himself as the final product. So far, that hasn't happend. And that's something Robin and I will have to deal with and watch. What can we do for Peterson and Gaƫlle to help them love and accept the wonderful children they are as well as accepting and understanding all of the differences in their lives? Much food for thought.

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