Stranger(s) \\ a film by Remy Styrk
Written + Directed By
a family dinner. an adopted son and his adoptive family. from appetizers to dessert, the only thing consumed is a disconnect. something so simple, so innocuous becomes limbo.
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an open letter about adoption
"My Thoughts on Adoption" - written April 5th, 2021
My name is Remy Styrk (he/him), I’m Haitian-American (identifying as black), and I was adopted into a white family. I was born to a homeless, heroin addict in Newark, New Jersey. She was physically and mentally not able to care for another baby.
I never had the moment between baby and mother of being held against her chest and immediately comforted. I never had the skin-to-skin bond from womb to overwhelming, foreign environment. The body remembers and holds onto that. My first experience as a newborn was being hooked up to monitors, bright lights, a room full of tension, and the definition of “alone” that could shake anyone.
I’m longing for a connection that I wrote both sides of. I have nostalgia for something I’ve never experienced. I have no sense of community other than what was put in front of me and told to be a part of. I’ve always felt like I’ve received “validation” of my ethnicity, race, and ancestral story from the white perspective. There’s a whole different meaning of “family” that I just don’t have any tie to.
The most baffling part and I think the part that a lot of people don’t fully understand, is that you’re not searching for your biological parents to “go back to them” or to incorporate them into your life, you’re searching for the feeling and the unspoken security of your community. you’re not trying to learn about your biological family, you’re trying to learn about yourself. I have so many questions about so many basic pieces of information that non-adopted people are unaware of. There are so many parts of me, mentally, physically, and medically that I don’t have answers for.
I think the hardest truth for me to accept, was that it is possible to be grateful for your adopted life, yet still, yearn for that biological unspoken connection. Neither one have power over the other. A large part of adoption, for me, is relating to disconnect. I am disconnected from this whole other life story my mind or body doesn’t remember. My pre-adoption life is disconnected from my adopted family. My adopted family is disconnected from a whole other culture. Yes, adoption is beautiful and such a live saver for so many people, but it’s also extremely difficult. There is a lot of subconscious work, struggle, questioning that is not talked about. It is a leap into the unknown and it’s scary. Adoption is the true test of open-mindedness. It is self-directed learning with an incomplete sense of self.