Elizabeth and Jud Curry always knew they wanted a large family. Over the course of several years, the Elburn family adopted five children, all with special needs, from Vietnam and China, in addition to raising their own seven biological children.
One of those adoptees is Hayden, a now 19-year-old girl born with linear nevus sebaceous syndrome, a disorder that affects her appearance and cognitive abilities.Jud and Elizabeth face the difficulties and isolation of raising adopted children with special needs. Their journey is highlighted in an upcoming 55-minute documentary, Hayden & Her Family, which premieres nationally on Nov. 23.
About the documentary
“Through the lens of both adoptive parents and their children, Hayden & Her Family tells an empowering and honest story of adoption,” says Evanston-based producer and director May Tchao. “This film is very appropriate to air on both Thanksgiving week and on National Adoption Awareness Month.”
The Curry kids currently range from ages 12 to 28. The family recently moved from Evanston to Elburn to make room for their three cats, two dogs, chickens, duck, geese, four horses and Guinea pig.
Tchao originally met the Curry family at church. Her curiosity was piqued when she spotted Hayden, then a young girl with facial differences and beautiful spirit. After gaining the family’s trust, she followed them over the course of six years, seeing the kids through birthdays, the loss of grandparents, the adoption of more children and the recent pandemic.
“I am very honored to know this family and to tell this story. I slowly learned to understand how they can manage what’s on their plate,” said Tchao. “I think this family is so admirable, and I wanted the world to see that. This is a unique family that marches to their own drum.”
This unique Chicago adoption story explores the power of transformation through acts of generosity and sacrifice when different lives and love intersect. The film tackles themes of alternative parenting, the challenges of special needs adoption and explores what it means to be a family.
“Before I adopted, I knew what it was like to love a child I gave birth to,” says Elizabeth Curry. “After we adopted, I learned that love is bigger and so much more multi-faceted and deeper than just that biological connection.”
Tchao says this film gives an intimate and nuanced look into the adoption journey of the Curry family, making a case for their humanity.
“By exploring themes of alternative parenting, ambitious altruism, the power of family love, and the challenges of special needs adoption, it empowers and gives an honest voice to the adoptive parents who are rarely represented,” she says. “In this time of increasing racial diversity and growth of the unconventional family, the Currys’ story inspires us to introspect on social justice and makinga difference in others’ lives.”
Elizabeth says the key takeaway from this documentary is that there are children waiting for a home.
“Adoption is not about finding a child for a family. It is about finding a family for a child. I want people to see that all children are valuable and worth loving – regardless of their needs and special considerations. Every child deserves to be raised by a loving family.”
Hayden & Her Family premieres on the America ReFramed Series on public television’s WORLD Channel Tuesday at 7 p.m. on Nov. 23.
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