Lion – An adoptive mom’s perspective

I first heard about the movie, LION, while watching the Golden Globes a few weeks ago.  I was instantly hooked when I saw the movie trailer – a young Indian boy, through a course of very unfortunate incidents, ends up adopted by an Australian couple living in Tasmania. The movie is Saroo’s quest to find his mother and family again – something he does after a 25+year search using Google Earth.


That summary sounds so neat and tidy right?  It all works out in the end.  However, watching this movie through my eyes as an adoptive mom, I could not contain my deep tears and heart wrenching emotion.

My oldest child sat next to me, crying alongside me.  It’s a hard story to watch.  It has a happy ending but the weight of this young boy’s life and how one simple decision resulted in years of searching – that’s what broke my heart.

Saroo’s story is unfortunately the reality for millions of children.  Circumstances lead to a fracture in their family.  Some get lost like Saroo, some are sold, some run away and some are simply abandoned.  Each story, each child, carries with them a life long scar that holds a chant – “I need to go home but I’m lost.”

Sunny Pawar stars in LIONPhoto: Mark Rogers
Sunny Pawar stars in LION Photo: Mark Rogers

There was a scene in the movie between Nicole Kidman and Saroo in which he says to her, “Don’t you wish you could have had your own kids?  You’re not just adopting us but our pasts as well. ”

What unfolds next is a beautiful moment as Saroo’s adoptive mother shares her journey to adoption.  Her story is filled with pain and angst, but carries with it hope and assurance that she was supposed to have these boys, Saroo and his brother, in her life.

That scene continues to come back to me as I think of my journey as a mother.  We all bring our pasts with us, whether we adopt our children or give birth to them.  Until that child is placed in your arms, you do not know the depth of the wounds the past has dealt you and what their impact will be on your children.

Throughout the movie, there is a beautiful unfolding of Saroo’s deep desire to be found, to no longer be lost.  Perhaps this theme struck such a resounding cord with me is that I also have felt that deep thread of figuring out what is home.  As a child and young adult, I had my feet between two worlds – Africa and America.  Neither were fully home and there was a sense of wandering, “Where is home?”

As I live in this new decade of life called my 40’s, I finally understand that home is an emotional place of belonging not a physical place.  This movie, Lion, has so many rich and wondrous themes woven throughout it.

Themes and questions such as –  What is family?  Is adoption a good thing?  Do we really understand how our pasts determine so much of our decision-making?  What is the importance of searching for answers?  We all live in a broken world filled with pain. How are we willing to allow that pain to bring healing?  The depth and breadth of a mother’s love is the heartbeat of each of us.  Are we willing to relentlessly  pursue healing for those we love?  Can love overcome trauma?

These questions and thoughts continue to swirl in my mind as I reflect on this movie. In the movie there are references to child abuse and exploitation.  Those scenes are difficult to watch.  There is a beautiful portrayal of the deep love between Saroo and his biological brother – such love and care that you as the viewer experience great sadness when they are separated.

But at the end of the movie, as we watched the photographs and video of the real Saroo taking his adoptive mother to meet his biological mother, there is sense of contentment and hope.  This is not most adoptive children’s stories.  However, I believe that healing can happen in many ways.

Watch this movie please.  It is a very honest and raw portrayal of the plight of millions of children in this world.  It is a very honest and vulnerable depiction of the struggle some children face as they deal with their story.  I think each person who sees this movie can relate to something of Saroo’s story – as we are all born into a broken world.


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