Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thoughts on Juno

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Have you ever seen that movie Juno? You know the one. A quirky high school girl gets pregnant and decides to terminate the pregnancy then has a moment of reality and changes her mind, consequently choosing an adoption plan? (Whew!) The movie's received a lot of criticism because it doesn't take the perspective of the birth mother seriously enough. After reading birth mother blogs and birth mother books and meeting a deeply grieving birth mother, I can definitely see how Juno would be ... well, almost insulting to a birth mother. Then again, I've never been a birth mother. But I have been pregnant when I was young. Unlike Juno, I didn't choose adoption. And now, here I am at a time in my life when I would love to have a baby - and I can't. I understand the grieving, and honor it.

What struck me, though, while I was watching the first meeting scene, was the portrayal of the adoptive parents. Jennifer Garner plays an overzealous adoptive mother. Her desperation to be a mother simply oozes. Her perfect life is just a facade for the broken, anxious mess that she's become. Jason Bateman plays the complete opposite, a complacent adoptive father who isn't happy in his marriage.

The first time I watched this movie, I thought, "what an a**hole." But, having gone through the experience of infertility, I know what the whole process can do to a marriage. Month after month you face the fact that you aren't pregnant. You take hormones that make you crazy. The doctors and health care providers aren't sympathetic. It's all so ... clinical. The pressure on both the wife and the husband is enormous. You lose a sense of who you are and it just becomes all about the process. Robert and I learned that path just wasn't for us.

Back to Juno. In one scene, Juno walks up the stairs of the adoptive parents' home to go to the bathroom. On the wall by the staircase is a series of pictures, the adoptive couple dressed all in white, smiling at the camera looking like models in a frame on the shelf of Macy's. That's hilarious. Once my sister had our entire family buy blue shirts and black pants for a family photo. I bought one of them and put it in a box. It wasn't us. We don't believe in shiny lights and photoshop. We are who we are.

Despite the extreme character portrayals, if I were to write a book about adoption, it would have to be like Juno. A little quirky, a little humor sprinkled in with a lot of reality. Humor is a coping mechanism - and the business of infertility and adoption is serious business.

Am I like the Jennifer Garner character? Well, I don't think she would own two crazy dogs that like to sleep on the furniture. Because I work from home, I wear jeans most of the time. You won't find a sitting room in our house and it's not perfectly clean. We don't have a maid. And if you've seen the pictures of Robert, you already know he's not like Jason Bateman. He's very affectionate and energetic. He's looking forward to being an adoptive dad. The both of us have gone through some pretty tough times together, which have made us stronger than ever. Robert is the best friend I've ever had.

Despite it all, I like the movie Juno. This is one fictional situation - and every adoption story is different. So I can watch it with perspective and appreciate it for what it is. Just a movie. I know our own adoption story will involve a lot of emotions - fear, doubt, anger, sadness, happiness, hope and maybe even some humor sprinkled in with all of that.

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