Hot Docs 2013: Mercy Mercy: A True Story of Adoption (2013)

Posted by Brandy Dean April 25, 2013 3 Comments 10647 views

The heart warming version of adoption goes like this: a child in need is accepted into the loving arms of a caring family and everyone lives happily ever after. But life isn’t a fairy tale, and as Mercy, Mercy: A True Story of Adoption demonstrates, international adoption is much more complicated that a fairy tale. Director Katrine Riis Kjaer spent four years following Masho and Roba as they are given up for adoption by their HIV positive Ethiopian parents and passed off to their unprepared (and perhaps cruel at times?) new Danish family.

No one is a winner in Mercy, Mercy: A True Story of Adoption – not the parents who are manipulated by unscrupulous adoption agency into relinquishing their children; not the well-meaning but unempathetic Danish parents, who ultimately give up Masho to a Danish state agency because she has “attachment disorder”; and definitely not the two blameless children at the heart of it. Hell, this doc made me so angry I even felt some ill will toward the director for not providing the birth parents with some answers as they desperately search for answers about their children’s well being. I will add, that this judgment is unfair all around – everyone was doing what they thought was best. It just wasn’t really best.

That said, as harsh and uncomfortable as Mercy, Mercy: A True Story of Adoption is to watch, it’s important. As more couples wait longer to have children and find themselves turning to international adoption as a solution, this film raises issues that anyone considering such an doption should be aware of.

Screening Times for Mercy Mercy: A True Story of Adoption

Sat, Apr 27 7:00 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Sun, Apr 28 3:30 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Fri, May 3 9:30 PM
Scotiabank 4

Gallery of Images from Mercy Mercy: A True Story of Adoption

Watch the trailer on Indie Wire.


For more information about Hot Docs 2013 and to purchase tickets, visit

About Brandy Dean

Social media consultant, blogger for hire, and lover of classic movies and silent films.

View all post by Brandy Dean Visit author's website

There are 3 Comments

  1. - April 26, 2013
      -   Reply

    This looks like a fascinating film.

    Adoption is a great concept but it is a long, hard road, even when it isn’t an international adoption. There are two adopted children in our extended family and it has not been easy.

    I almost wept when I read the adoptive parents aborted the adoption. Without having seen the film, I can only imagine how difficult their struggle was. And yet, these poor children! How are they going to trust another human being, ever?

    Thank you for drawing attention to the issues surrounding adoption. Those parents who adopt and stick with it are very special.

  2. Brandy Dean
    - April 26, 2013
      -   Reply

    Yes, it appears to be difficult all around. I certainly did not mean to or want to vilify any of the players in this drama, but from my safe, third party distance I could see failures to adjust expectations all around.

    I’m always shocked when I hear about people giving up dogs because they’re too unruly, or not behaving as expected. To give up a child that you’ve adopted? It’s unbelievable. Biological children often present problems, obstacles, and pain – why would it be surprising that an adopted child might as well?

    At any rate, I think this doc is a must see for anyone considering adoption, especially international adoption. But it’s a difficult film to watch and it is very upsetting.

  3. - April 27, 2013
      -   Reply

    Those who feel, after watching this movie, that they want to help… Please consider supporting Operation Mercy Mercy

Write Your Comment

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.