This documentary rocks, albeit in a depressing not-feel-good kind of way. I say it rocks because it tells the absolute truth about all the flaws in the international adoption world. Not only does it shed light on the ridiculous hoops adoptive parents must jump through, it also shows exactly how children waiting to be adopted around the globe are suffering every single day.

By following four adopting families through their trials and tribulations the film catches the highs and lows associated with international adoption, and adoption in general. Rather than just focus on these American families, the film digs deeper and jumps across oceans to go inside orphanages and show in painful detail how these waiting children are living in poverty while they wait for their prospective nations to play nice with the U.S. and comply with often ridiculous UN rules.

Not all the stories have happy endings.  Not all the happy endings are truly happy. The story that moved me the most was about a little girl being adopted from Ethiopia. The film was able to interview the birth mother and asked why she was giving up her child. The answer was heart breaking. When the child’s father died, his family took back all of their marital property (as they were allowed by Ethiopian law) and threw mom and child out on the street. The mother, unable to even feed her three year old daughter, decided the child’s chances were better in an orphanage.  The little girl went on to be adopted by a single mom from the U.S.

I know not everyone dealing with an adopted child with RAD adopted internationally, but this film is still a great resource for understanding how RAD happens. Probably a third of the film is devoted to attachment issues. It shares the history of attachment studies, beginning in Romanian orphanages, and explains how poorly attached children fail to thrive and their prognosis for the rest of their lives.

Having experienced international adoption twice in my life I resisted the urge to yell out, “Amen!” many times during the film. While I understand the need for regulations and standards so many of the obstacles facing prospective adoptive parents are needless, illogical and declared by people out of touch with ‘real’ families and real children in desperate need of adoption. “Stuck” respectfully challenges these laws and lawmakers while laying the case for why international adoption needs to be streamlined – really streamlined.

Regardless of whether one has adopted internationally or domestically, there is a great wealth of knowledge about attachment and living in poverty and/or neglectful environments that can empower parents of children with RAD. I give it four out of five ‘safe hands’.