Thursday, July 7, 2022

Interview with the Documentary maker Julian Kelly

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Julian Kelly
Julian Kelly

1- Hello Julian, can you tell us a bit about yourself
I’m an adoptee. I’ve struggled quite a bit with mental health issues related to my adoption. It has been very difficult for me to process my grief regarding the loss of my biological family. I decided to direct the film, “ Almost Family” because I needed a healthy way to process my feelings while remaining productive.

2- How would you describe “Almost Family” in just a few words?
Sad. Truthful. Important.

3- How did you first get the idea to start “Almost Family”?
I don’t really remember if I had an “ ah-ha” moment. The film came about after searching for my biological family and not getting anywhere. I went to a therapist to talk about my adoption and started a really torrid relationship with her, in which she always asked me to call her my “ Mommy-therapist”. Eventually, I looked at that and realized that I was vulnerable to that predator because I was trying to find someone to fulfill my longing for a biological mother. It was something I had to confront in order to move forward.

4- What are your focus areas and why?
My focus is on making sure that all adoptees eventually get access to their original birth certificates, because everyone deserves to know where they come from. Even if you don’t have a relationship with your parents, you should know what their names are so that you can have closure and an accurate picture of where you come from.

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5- Can you explain to us the reality of adoption from your point of view?
Adoption is long-reaching, and the effects are lasting. Adoption does not always have a happy ending. Some people are adopted by abusers. Some adoptees end up committing suicide. Adoption is not easy, and it certainly isn’t a cure-all. It shouldn’t be used as a first line of defense.

6- How do you think the film will change the life of many adopted kids suffering in our world?
I hope that my film will help people to view adopted children as human beings and not objects. My good friend Jacki Torres, recently mentioned to me that adopted children start their lives from a place of insecurity. It’s very true. From a very young age, many of us are wondering why we were abandoned, and what we did wrong. I’m hoping to inspire greater empathy towards adoptees. Society tends to teach us that we are indebted to our adoptive parents, and that we should just shut up and be grateful. We didn’t choose to be adopted and we didn’t choose to be born. I want people to know that it’s okay to grieve, and to feel whatever you feel.

7- How can our communities reduce the risk of these biological parents that leave their kids behind?
Instead of funding agencies that advocate solely for adoption, which is generally a permanent solution to very temporary problems, like poverty, we need to start funding more programs that help families stay together. We also need to provide less financial incentives to the adoption industry as a whole. Adoption is a billion dollar industry, and it really isn’t something that needs to be one. Adoption is tremendously personal. It should be human-centered, not money-centered.

8- What were some of the biggest challenges documentary makers encounter while trying to shoot their first documentary?
My biggest challenge was that I didn’t know how my journey would end.

9- And what were some of the biggest challenges you encountered personally?
It is difficult for me to encounter other adoptees that aren’t able to understand that while adoption may have helped them, it has also hurt some of us.

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10- A last Word or final thoughts?
Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me. I hope that you enjoy the film, and more importantly I hope that eventually all adoptees are granted access to their original birth certificates.

To stay in contact with Julian or to discuss the film and adoption stories, please follow her twitter account.

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Noelle Elia
Noelle Elia
is a Financial analyst at PSPC. Graduated from Telfer School of Management, Finance/Accounting with interest to Entrepreneurship and New Media.
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