My Name Is Faith – Tiffany Sudela-Junker, USA

 

“The years before five last the rest of their lives”, or so the saying goes.  But what happens when the years before five are spent in an environment of neglect, abuse and unsafe conditions?  Can a child so broken in their formative years that they are unable to trust, relate to those around them, or express themselves in any ways other than violent, agressive behaviour, learn to accept love from another person, and grow into a happy, healthy individual?  For foster parents of children who have been diagnosed with Attachment Disorder, the answer comes as a rollercoaster ride of struggle, failures, heartaches, turning points, hope and, ultimately, love.

My Name Is Faith follows one particular story of 12-year-old Faith who, together with her younger brother, struggle to battle the demons they acquired as infants and toddlers, and embrace a new life with their loving foster parents, as all of them work every day to become a real family.  The battle is not an easy one for any of those involved, and the importance of having an understanding community and support group can not be overlooked.

Faith is a beautiful, intelligent girl, with far too much pain behind her eyes for someone so young.  It’s easy to see the love her foster mother has for her, yet it’s also just as easy to see how patience and nerves get stretched to the point of nearly breaking when dealing with a child who has developed such severe defence mechanisms since before she was born.  Reprogramming Faith to exist and survive in a less-threatening world from the one she was born into seems an impossible task at times.

Hope comes in the form of Nancy Thomas’ Camp Connect – a sort of therapeutic retreat for the whole family, where each member can learn the skills and tools they need to help their children grow, change, and learn how to be happy.  What Camp does most of all is give everyone a chance to see that they are not alone.  There are other parents struggling with the same fears and frustrations, and there are other kids who battle every day to express themselves and ask for what they need.

The level of sometimes brutal honesty in this film is one of the first things that impressed me about it.  Faith herself is fascinating to watch, and the camera doesn’t shy away from her inner battles.  Often in tight close-up, we see Faith in some of her most candid, hurt, humourous, honest, and dishonest moments.  We get to watch her grow and change, own her emotions, and hold herself accountable for her own honesty.  Her fear of losing the people she loves – those who love her – is heartbreaking to see, but ultimately empowering as she slowly and tentatively learns to trust.

The film itself is an emotional rollercoaster of ups and downs, much as life with these children can be.  The level of honesty and courage from the parents is inspirational.  Watching them go from expressing their deepest fears and uncertainties with respect to their children, coupled with their fierce determination to not give up on making their families whole – admittedly, I wondered several times throughout the course of this film whether or not I would be strong enough to do the same.  Indeed, I found my eyes to still be leaking even after the final credits rolled.

The beauty of this film lies in its innate truth – that there is no magic “cure” for these kids, nor a button to press that will make everything okay.  It takes work, and everyone has to fight for every inch of ground that is gained in their growth and development.  But when you see a child make and hold eye contact with the adult who loves them, and that child is able to feel the love seeping into them from their very own mom and dad – it’s in those moments that the true magic lies, and the hope of everyone is that they will last longer and longer each time they come, until finally inside that child beats a powerful heart of their own.

My Name Is Faith has its World Premiere screening at the Hot Docs film festival in Toronto on May 2 at 7:15pm (Royal), May 3 at 1:30pm (Cumberland) and May 5 at 6:30pm ROM)

Advertisements

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Wooooow I really need see this movie …

  2. marajade29sm says:

    Yes you do! I think really everyone should. It made me see things a much different way. I thought about things that hadn’t occured to me before, too. Really really well done film!

  3. LindaRosaRN says:

    Look up the definition of RAD in the DSM-IV-TR. It is nothing like is used in the film or is promoted by Nancy & Beth Thomas. Use of this bogus diagnosis is denounced by national mental health professional organizations. It is used to make children appear so bad that they need harsh therapy and parenting methods. See: http://www.childrenintherapy.org/attachmentdisorder.html

    Attachment Therapy/Parenting is a brutal practice that has been associated with many high profile child abuse and death cases. It is a shame to see a film perpetuate this horrid practice and phony diagnosis.

  4. lulu1978 says:

    I have not yet seen this film so my comments are based on my real life. For years I had to explain why my child is the way she is….it gets really tiresome and some times intrusive. My daughter has RAD. We adopted her at age 5 and she is now 9 years old. And as for a bogus diagnosis….come over to my neck of the woods and live it. If you want to find a bogus diagnosis, try ADD or ADHD. Half of those diagnosd may in fact have RAD. Most people assume that RAD can only be associated with adoptive/foster children. That is just how those children had end up. There are millions of children not yet in the system who have had some sort of trauma or neglect happen in the early developmental stages, they just haven’t gotten there yet (in the system). They may appear to have two loving parents so it must be something else. But no one knew about the post partem depression just after baby was born. So the most common diaganosis these days is ADD/ADHD.
    As for these children having a “bogus diagnosis..” “It is used to make them appear so bad that they need harsh therapy and parenting methods.” You must not have had a lot of experience with children with RAD.The diagnosis does not make them the way they are…it’s the fact that a part of their brain (limbic) hadn’t developed the way it needed to due to neglect. So their amygdala (reptilian) brain kicks in because that is the most primitive (what you are born with) so you get hyper vivgilant, anxious children..fight, flight or freeze. However there are many ways to go about it. I do not agree with harsh attachment therapy. I agree with therapy, which taught me about the “noticing brain”. We have to rewire our children, and to get there we have to go through every memory and emotion and reaction…on their terms and get them to understand why, what, and how they were feeling in that moment….and what now. This does not just happen over night…it takes time after time after time, just until you feel like nothing is making a difference or you have already surpassed that point. You have to have A LOT of patience and be VERY consistant and most important you have to have support. I said earlier that it gets tiresome explaining my daughter’s disorder, however I have to tell her story so that people can try to understand a little bit of what she goes through everyday..and so that she is not judged just on her reactions, but by her perserverence. I am happy to say that not once was she put on any type of medications for her RAD, or any type of “holding” therapy suggested. We have a long road ahead of us still but when we look back we are able to cope. I’m sorry for going on but until you live with RAD please don’t assume that our children are “Bad” just their memories of nurture is.

  5. lulu1978 says:

    I have not yet seen this film so my comments are based on my real life. For years I had to explain why my child is the way she is….it gets really tiresome and some times intrusive. My daughter has RAD. We adopted her at age 5 and she is now 9 years old. And as for a bogus diagnosis….come over to my neck of the woods and live it. If you want to find a bogus diagnosis, try ADD or ADHD. Half of those diagnosd may in fact have RAD. Most people assume that RAD can only be associated with adoptive/foster children. That is just how those children had end up. There are millions of children not yet in the system who have had some sort of trauma or neglect happen in the early developmental stages, they just haven’t gotten there yet (in the system). They may appear to have two loving parents so it must be something else. But no one knew about the post partem depression just after baby was born. So the most common diaganosis these days is ADD/ADHD.
    As for these children having a “bogus diagnosis..” “It is used to make them appear so bad that they need harsh therapy and parenting methods.” You must not have had a lot of experience with children with RAD.The diagnosis does not make them the way they are…it’s the fact that a part of their brain (limbic) hadn’t developed the way it needed to due to neglect. So their amygdala (reptilian) brain kicks in because that is the most primitive (what you are born with) so you get hyper vivgilant, anxious children..fight, flight or freeze. However there are many ways to go about it. I do not agree with harsh attachment therapy. I agree with therapy, which taught me about the “noticing brain”. We have to rewire our children, and to get there we have to go through every memory and emotion and reaction…on their terms and get them to understand why, what, and how they were feeling in that moment….and what now. This does not just happen over night…it takes time after time after time, just until you feel like nothing is making a difference or you have already surpassed that point. You have to have A LOT of patience and be VERY consistant and most important you have to have support. I said earlier that it gets tiresome explaining my daughter’s disorder, however I have to tell her story so that people can try to understand a little bit of what she goes through everyday..and so that she is not judged just on her reactions, but by her perserverence. I am happy to say that not once was she put on any type of medications for her RAD, or any type of “holding” therapy suggested. We have a long road ahead of us still but when we look back we are able to cope. I’m sorry for going on but please understand that our children are not “BAD” it’s just their memories of nurture.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s