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Bittersweet: Stories of Open Adoption

A Video Documentary by Steve Garrett

“Did I love him? Did I let him go? Was it the hardest thing I ever did in my life? You bet,” says Kim F., an adoption counselor, adoptive mother, and birthmother who at age 19 placed her son in a closed adoption.

In the video Bittersweet: Stories of Open Adoption, producer/director Steve Garrett bears witness to birthmothers like Kim, adoptive parents, and an adult adoptee as they negotiate life in open adoptions. Anyone considering adoption, whether making an adoption plan or building a family, will find this a valuable tool for exploring the losses and the joys of the adoption experience.

Some of the views that birthmothers express defy conventional wisdom. “Just because I choose to give up my baby doesn’t mean that I’m not excited to give life to another family,” says Elizabeth matter-of-factly. Shortly after giving birth, she describes relinquishment: “Everyone says it’s supposed to be tragic. That everyone’s going to be crying, and I’ll change my mind. But, it is so weird, I feel really good about it.” Another birthmother, Amy, echoes that sentiment: “Coming home from the hospital was the hardest thing. . . . I was sad for losing her, but I was happy for her too. She’s got such an awesome family.”

Adoptive parents-to-be discuss the frustrations of waiting, the reality of having to categorize the type of child they are seeking, and the experience of a disrupted adoption. Yet openness in adoption can work beautifully, as this film shows, especially after options-based counseling, which encourages potential birthparents to explore all avenues and determine for themselves which choices are best.

Advocating for openness, Kim F. advises: “You don’t want anyone’s baby to be your baby who isn’t willing to do that freely.” Later we meet Kim’s birthson, Jim, as they talk about their reunion, and Kim sums up the magic that adoption can create: “He was meant to be in so many more lives than just mine.”

Reviewed by Sharon Lind, a freelance writer in Seattle and the mother of two children through open adoption.
To order Bittersweet, contact Steve Garrett: 310-393-7123 or
Steve Garrett

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