Review of “Closure,” an Documentary on Transracial Adoption and Adoption Reunion
Written By: Erin Jones
It’s common for birth and adoptive parents considering adoption to wonder whether or not it will be a success, especially when they’re considering transracial adoption. Even in today’s much more accepting society, transracial adoption is often seen as highly controversial. But for as controversial as it may seem to people, transracial adoption can be successful. There’s proof of that in the story of 25-year-old Angela Tucker, a young African-American woman who was adopted as a baby by Caucasian parents.
Angela’s transracial adoption story is told in a documentary called Closure, which was directed by her husband, Bryan Tucker. Closure briefly touches on Angela’s adoption, with most of the focus on her two-year journey to find and reunite with her birth family.
The Search for Birth Family
For children like Angela, who have been adopted transracially, the search for their birth families is often extremely important. Birth family not only provides a vital connection to birth culture and heritage, but also a sense of closure. For Angela, this was an essential part of her adoption story, hence the name of the documentary!
Closure varies in every adoption case, but it is nonetheless important. Some children, birth and adoptive families feel more closure through a closed adoption because they feel it’s easier to move on with their lives. Others feel more closure through open or semi-open adoption because they’re able to openly communicate, rather than constantly wonder about one another.
The Premise of Closure
Angela’s curiosity about her birth family began when she was twelve or thirteen years old, though her search for them doesn’t begin until she’s well into her twenties, graduated from college and married. As Angela got older, it became clearer and clearer to her that if she didn’t at least try to find her biological family, she would never find the answers to the questions she’d been asking all her life about who she was and where she had come from.
On a similar note, closure is often important to children who have been adopted because they feel they were placed for adoption because their birth parents didn’t want or love them. Sometimes it’s difficult for adopted children to see that this is the farthest thing from the truth. When a birth parent chooses to place a child for adoption, they’re prioritizing their child’s best interest. This is, perhaps, the most selfless decision a person could make in their lifetime.
Though closed adoption has its benefits for some families, Angela finds it difficult to search for her birth family due to the lack of information she has on them, as her adoption was a closed one. In closed adoption, it’s rare for any party of the adoption triad to have any information on the other parties, due to the confidentiality aspect. Additionally, Angela’s adoptive parents, as well as some of her adoptive Caucasian siblings, struggle to understand her desire to locate her birth family. Their adoptive family was a happy one, why did Angela want so badly to find her birth family? Initially, Angela’s adoptive family felt that they might be replaced by her birth family if she was able to locate them.
The Support of Family
A child’s decision to search for their birth family doesn’t mean they want to replace their adoptive family. It’s important to keep in mind that children who have been adopted, especially those who have been adopted transracially, are more likely to struggle with their identities. It’s common for them to feel like a piece of them is missing, no matter how loving, caring and supportive their adoptive family is. For some adoptees, searching for their birth families is just something they have to do. Again, connecting with birth families is not only a vital way to find answers about identity and birth culture, but to also get closure.
As aforementioned, Angela’s birth parents, as well as some of her adoptive siblings, struggle at first to understand her need to search for her biological family. The moment Angela’s adoptive family does come to understand is truly a breakthrough for them, as they begin to understand the struggles Angela faces as an African-American who was adopted by Caucasian parents.
Once Angela’s adoptive family better understands her desire to find her biological family, the search to find them begins. Their support of Angela and their willingness to help her on her journey to find her birth family is what makes this particular transracial adoption story such a successful one. To love and care for your child means to support your child, even if you’re hesitant at first to help in the search for your child’s birth family.
Spoiler alert! Angela’s search for her birth family comes to end when she’s reunited with both of her birth parents and with her biological family from both sides. This, of course, is a huge moment for her, as well as for her adoptive family.
It’s also a reminder of the importance of birth family to adopted children, especially those who have been adopted transracially. It’s important for children who have been adopted to see themselves reflected in others. Sure, adopted children can take on some of the personality traits of their adoptive parents. But they also have qualities from their birth parents and those are just as important because they’re a part of what makes that child who they are. When a child doesn’t know who or where those qualities come from, the child may very well grow up feeling incomplete, which is why the role of a child’s birth parents is just as important as the role of the adoptive parents.