The Commitment is a moving and heartfelt dramatic short film about Robert (Albert M. Chan) and Ethan (Jason Lane Fenton), an interracial gay couple who have been chosen from a pool of hopeful adoptive parents by Victoria (Kerri Patterson), a shy and very pregnant Asian birthmother. Susan (Mary Niederkorn), the adoption social worker who facilitates their first meeting, helps the trio navigate through the awkward but often times humorous discussions of race, sexual orientation, and outlandish baby names. Gradually, Victoria begins to open up and eventually forges a bond with Robert and Ethan. When the unexpected happens, however, Robert's neuroticism and Ethan's anxiety about fatherhood threaten their relationship. Embodying the authentic voice and depiction of a committed gay couple amidst the world of adoption, The Commitment is an emotionally powerful film with uncommonly strong performances by a remarkable cast.
The Commitment brings together a talented group of filmmakers whose passion for the arts and dedication to excellence have garnered them success in the entertainment industry, including recognition from the National Film Board of Canada and the Puffin Foundation. They have worked on projects that include The Dark Knight, 30 Rock, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Cold Case, Law & Order SVU, Shutter Island, Surrogates, Body of Proof, Bee Movie, The Simpsons Movie, Underdog, and Brotherhood.
Much of the team also worked together previously on writer/director Albert M. Chan's award-winning short film Fate Scores, which enjoyed a successful festival run (including screenings in Boston, New York, Vancouver, Memphis, Sedona, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and Providence), won an award from the National Film Board of Canada, and picked up a distribution deal with Moving Images Distribution.
The Commitment is inspired by my own roller-coaster journey to become an adoptive parent, particularly as a gay Asian man.
When my husband and I decided we were ready for children, we naturally turned to domestic adoption, as there were obviously few other options available to two men. After deciding on an agency, we began to tackle the long checklist of requirements: registration forms, application forms (two!), criminal background checks, FBI fingerprinting checks, child abuse checks, employment verifications, written references, online and in-person seminars, book studies, and homestudy meetings with an adoption social worker.
Once requirements are completed, couples usually wait about a year before being selected by a birthmother. But before we had even completed the full set of requirements to join the pool of adoptive waiting parents, however, we received the surprising news that a young pregnant woman was searching for a gay couple to parent her baby. We rushed to complete the remainder of the requirements, especially our adoptive parent profile, that all-important book which would introduce me and my husband to birthparents considering adoption. At our last homestudy meeting, we were ecstatic when our social worker proudly announced that the young woman had indeed chosen us to parent her child.
We had less than three weeks to prepare for the arrival of our baby boy. In the first few days, we were able to select a pediatrician, make arrangements to take time off work, borrow a variety of baby items, choose a daycare, and max out the minutes on our calling plan. On that important day when we were to meet the birthmother of our baby for the first time, the agency canceled our meeting at the very last moment. A few days later, we received word that the birthmother had decided to give guardianship of her baby to family friends.
In the weeks that ensued, I secretly hoped that she would change her mind again, but as reality set in, it was difficult to be truly upset knowing that the baby who was almost our son would be able to remain closely in contact with his biological mother.
Those familiar with domestic adoption had told us before we began that the adoption process is truly a roller coaster ride, and now we finally understood what these people meant.
I dealt with the feelings of loss and disappointment the only way I knew how—I wrote a screenplay. Four unsuccessful birthparent matches and one year later, The Commitment went into production. Two weeks after the film wrapped, our beautiful son Andrew was born, the result of our fifth match.
I made The Commitment to educate, entertain, and move audiences with an authentic depiction of both the most heart-breaking and most joyous aspects of adoption, from the perspective of birthparents, adoption professionals, and a loving and committed gay couple.
One day, when Andrew is old enough to watch The Commitment with me and my husband, I hope he recognizes the magnitude of the love into which he was born.
—Albert M. Chan