Finding Farideh: Review

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Finding Farideh is a powerful documentary about an Iranian intercountry adoptee, Eline, raised in the Netherlands, who returns to Iran and searches for her biological family. It recently won the award for Best Documentary at Hafez Awards in Tehran and has screened in numerous countries around the world (Iran, Germany, Czech Republic, America, Ukraine, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey, and Russia).

Eline somehow managed to undergo this journey with such bravery and compassion! It is heartbreak to watch the families who are desperately searching as much as she! There are many moments during the film that I related to as a peer intercountry adoptee. Her adoptive family seem lovely but I could sense the lack of emotional connection that I too experienced in my adoptive home — often no amount of adoptive family love can fix the hole in our heart experienced from the loss of our origins, sense of belonging, and family.

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Finding Farideh speaks about our missing pieces as intercountry adoptees and demonstrates the importance of being encouraged to return when we desire, at our timing, and in the way we need. The documentary also covered the Iranian families well and the realities that can arise during potential reunions — the conflicts reopened, the sense of shame and anger that runs deep from such relinquishment wounds for all. It is important for adoptees to understand emotionally how complicated reunions can be and this documentary captures this aspect well.

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Finding Farideh is a dramatic and powerful way of truthfully portraying intercountry adoption from the two sides we rarely hear from i.e., the families of loss and the adoptee. For the adoptee, many fail to understand the internal psychological damage done when our original identity is denied and erased via adoption. It may not be denied overtly or with malicious intent, but naively out of a lack of understanding. I could see how Eline felt more grounded once she was able to identify with those parts of herself that resonated in Iran — but had never felt the same sense of belonging in the Netherlands. For me, I also experience this resonance when I returned to my homeland in Vietnam.

I hope this documentary encourages other Iranian adoptees to return to their homeland. Despite the western coverage of Iran and the middle eastern countries, in this film, Iran looks like an amazing country and I never got a sense of travel being unsafe. This was clearly enabled with Eline’s excellent choice of professional mediator, Negar, who could translate and help her understand the cultural ways to respect and fit in as much as possible. I know from speaking with some other Iranian adoptees that this fear of travelling safely is the largest factor that prevents many from returning and exploring their origins.

The ending of the documentary was definitely one I resonated with, in that we discover it’s often the journey of seeking, that we come closer to understanding and finding ourselves as intercountry adoptees. This in itself, can be so healing and empowering for us.

It is an emotional and empowering film to watch Eline’s journey of growth and I can’t thank her enough for being brave and sharing this with the world in an attempt to better educate on the complexities of intercountry adoption. What a fantastic job the directors did — Kourosh Ataee and Azadeh Moussavi, who capture this journey so eloquently!

If you get a chance and you are interested in better understanding intercountry adoption from the adoptee and biological family point of view, I highly recommend watching Finding Farideh! Here is the website to follow Eline on her journey and here is further info that was shared about her documentary before it had been completed.