Monday, February 4, 2008

Juno: a story of teenage pregnancy and adoption

I went to see 'Juno' yesterday with my daughter (19 years old) - she paid for me because I was broke! I won't go into details about the plot too much because I do not want to give the story away. Suffice to say, the story is about Juno, a feisty 16 year who has sex one time with her geeky boy friend and gets pregnant. She decides to have the baby adopted because she cannot bear to have an abortion but feels too immature to keep the baby. The film goes on to narrate the events leading up to the birth of the baby and explore the feelings of the people involved.

From a film goers perspective, I really loved the film. I did not want to go (my daughter was paying, so I had no choice) but I am really glad I did. It was extremely well acted by all players. It was very funny yet treated the subject matter in a sympathetic way that did not over-dramatize issues or give an ending that you know is totally unrealistic.

As a midwife, I found the film interesting because it presented adoption as a workable option to unwanted pregnancy. In New Zealand, we have a wonderful open adoption system that potentially allows birth parents to stay closely involved with their children. And I do wonder some times if we do not support young women enough to explore this option.

As a mother of older teenagers who are in steady relationships, I have wondered what my reaction would be if either came home and said she/girlfriend is pregnant. Luckily, being a midwife I have unlimited access to condoms and have scattered them all over the house, so hopefully it will be a few years before I am a grandma!



Sitting in Silence said...

Thanks for sharing a piece of this movie with us. I have wanted to see it myself and will go for sure now.


Sarah Stewart said...

Get back to me when you do and let me know what you thought.

Anonymous said...

I think you mean unplanned pregnancy - not unwanted pregnancy

Sarah Stewart said...

Thinking about it, I probably mean both. In this film, the pregnancy was unwanted, but you're right, the pregnancy was unplanned as well.

Anonymous said...

Too bad that most open adoptions are not legally binding, especially in the States.

Most are closed by the adoptive parents before the child is 5.

I know of one mother who committed suicide when the adopters outright lied to her about an open adoption - the adoptive mother even wrote a book about deceiving mothers out of their babies and put into the book that is how she did her adoption - promise it to be open and close it as soon as you get the baby.

So many mothers are misled that they will always be a part of their children's lives when the cruel reality is that most will be brutally cut out of them by the adopters.

Juno promotes the myth that everyone keeps their promises in open adoptions - the truth is most do not.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you for your comments and stories, Anonymous - they're really sad. As a midwife, my involvement is just in the early days - I do not get to see what happens later down the line. Having said that, I have come across some very successful stories so it does work in some cases.

Anonymous said...

not sure what the situation is exactly in NZ - I don't think the adopting parents have a legal capacity to close an open adoption - but they can not facilitate it and have the power to exclude the birth mother from their life and the childs life - and if they choose this option - the birth mother has no real legal rights to address this. I think the whole system operates on good faith and an enormous ammount of trust. Sadly for some I guess not all adopting parents are worthy of this faith and trust and not all adopting parents will have the natural parents capacity to put the childs needs first. It raises the question - if you cannot acknowledge the history and family background of your adopted child - are you accepting, loving and respecting and honouring them? No. I think adoption requires parents to ask themselves if they are big enough to achieve this - and if not - don't do it - it is destructive and self interested bahaviour of the worst kind really. It is child abuse in my view. It would be really hard for someone who has never had a child and is adopting to take on the characteristics of a true parent - and actually put the child first - they have not necessarily got the life skills or experience to do this. Not in all case but in some - they have to be reallly really big people to do this well - these people might be few and far between I suspect?

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you, anonymous. I certainly take my hat off to parents (both birth and adoptive) who make open adoption work. They must be incredibly loving and giving people. Not easy to do, at times, I would imagine.

rae said...

true but what families are always easy?

Anonymous said...

I am currently pregnant with my 2nd child. I am 17 and my boyfriend is 19 and OUR 1st child is 4 and we love her to bits. I love the film Juno and I wouldve thought she'd make a great mum. I do think I am crazy as I am having a teen pregnancy and I also think its immature. But I love my life and am not one of those girls who dresses inapropriatly I wear lovely clothes.

Love Jamie

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Jamie

Great to hear from you-best wishes for this pregnancy and life as a mum.

It is very easy as a midwife to make assumptions about teenage parents, and it is good that you remind me that teenage mums are just as loving and capable mothers as older women.

As a mother of kids who are now 19 & 20, I have always wanted them to 'see the world' before they get tied down with children. I have been afraid that if they had children at a young age, they would not be able to provide for them adequately. And that the 'burden' would then rest with me. So to be honest.....when I look at my beliefs and's about the effect on me as grandmother that I am concerned about. How selfish is that!?

You've got me thinking.....thank you :)