Deep in My Heart (1999 film)

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Deep In My Heart
Directed by Anita W. Addison
Written by Ronni Kern
Starring Anne Bancroft
Lynn Whitfield
Alice Krige
Cara Buono
Gloria Reuben
Jesse L. Martin
Kevin O'Rourke
Music by Debbie Wiseman
Cinematography Alar Kivilo
Edited by Charles Bornstein
Distributed by Lifetime Network
Release dates
1999 (USA)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Deep in My Heart is a 1999 American television film based on a true story, starring Anne Bancroft and Lynn Whitfield and directed by Anita W. Addison. Bancroft received a primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her role.


In Boston in the early 1960s, Geraldine Cummins was walking home alone from the movies when she was jumped and raped by a black man. Stunned, she returned home to her husband Bob, stating she had been raped. Sometime later, she finds she is pregnant. In the beginning she hates the thought of her unborn baby, not wanting a constant reminder of her rapist, but keeps it for a few reasons: she is Catholic and she harbors a small hope that it could be her husband's baby. Her husband is supportive during the pregnancy. As the months pass, Gerry comes to be attached to the baby, later stating "8 months is too long to close your heart to a piece of yourself." She becomes fearful of what will happen if her baby is black, the social isolation it would receive and what people would think of her. After going into labor and confiding in a doctor her situation, she becomes convinced that it would be best if she gave it up. The baby is a black girl. She names her newborn daughter Barbara Anne Cummins and gives her to foster mother Corrine Burrel, a black woman in Roxbury, a black neighborhood. Gerry is heartbroken to give up her daughter.

Seven years later, Barbara is a happy little girl, but wonders about her birth parents. Corrine assures her that she is her mother, though not her birth mother. A few months later, a social worker comes into their home and informs Corrine that Barbara will be adopted by white people living in Wisconsin. Corrine seeks legal action, looking to adopt Barbara for herself, but as she is divorced with no job and many children, she is turned down. Barbara is taken kicking from Corrine and the family she has come to know. Later, Corrine reports that the social worker sent her a letter saying that Barbara was happy, but Corrine knew that they emotionally "killed" Barbara when they took her.

Annalise's husband Paul is not very happy to be adopting a colored 7 12-year-old, but Annalise is thrilled. After a while, Annalise becomes worried about Barbara's very detached nature and suggests to Paul they move to a suburban neighborhood where Barbara could be around other black kids. Paul is angry that they have to change everything for a child he did not want, but agrees, only to leave them after moving. Annalise opts to go to work during the day and to school at night to support them. Barbara has once again receded into herself after the neighborhood children make fun of her for being black with a white mother, calling her 'Oreo' and 'nigger'. Over the years until she is 16, she is alone without her mother or friends. At 16 she meets Don, a football playing choirboy. She falls in love with him and ultimately gets pregnant. Annalise comes home one day to learn that Barbara has a boyfriend and has been in the house alone with her when she was not there. After a mild argument, Barbara leaves. Barbara does not come home that night and Annalise calls the school. She is told her daughter is 4 months pregnant. Barbara then moves in with Don's sister.

Years later, in the middle of Barbara's third pregnancy, the doctor suggests she look into her birth family history for medical reasons. This leads her in search for her mother. She visits Corrine and later contacts the agency in charge of her adoption. By reading her adoption records, she comes to know the truth about her birth and her biological mother. Barbara is emotionally conflicted; whether to believe her father's a rapist or her mother's a liar. Barbara now has 5 children and has been married to Don for 17 years but still displays sadness over her lack of knowledge regarding her family history. After a night of contemplation, she decides to seek out her birth mother. Geraldine's husband Bob has died and her own children have left home, so she now lives alone. Barbara finds her though marriage records and contacts Geraldine's twin brother, Gerald. She reveals that she is looking for her mother and leaves her name and number for him to relay to Geraldine. However, because the call came as he was walking out the door to go on vacation, he is unable to relay the message to his sister, Geraldine until he gets back. She tells her brother that the woman who called is her daughter. At first he is shocked and disappointed that she could just give up her own child like that (she had told her family that Barbara had died as a newborn), but she explains she was raped by a black man. He warns her that everyone will know she was raped by admitting Barbara is her daughter, but Gerry says she does not care. Gerald gives her his blessing. Gerry calls Barbara and tearfully/happily admits to be her mother.

Revitalized by the happiness of knowing she was wanted by both her birth mother and foster mother, Barbara reconciles with Annalise. Anxiously, Gerry and her 3 grown children wait at the airport for Barbara's arrival. Then finally, after 34 years, mother and daughter meet. After a nice dinner with her new-found family, Gerry and Barbara have a bit of a tense conversation about Barbara's paternity. Barbara reveals she hates her father, but Gerry replies that she forgave him the minute she saw Barbara. She also says that the day she gave her up was the worst day of her life. Barbara is angry as to why Gerry gave her up if she loves her, asking if it would have made a difference if she had been born white. Gerry shamefully replies that she probably would have, because she was afraid every time she looked at her she'd see her rapist. But now, she only sees her daughter. Gerry says she only wanted the best for Barbara, to be with people who could teach her courage, which she could not, because Gerry felt ashamed for being raped and having a black daughter, though she loved her. Gerry apologizes to Barbara and the two reconcile as mother and daughter. Later, at a family reunion, Corrine, Gerry and Annalise meet again for the first time. The film ends with a picture of the entire side of Barbara's family, her mothers, her uncles, her brothers and sisters, her children, and her nieces and nephews, black and white together, and Barbara no longer feels like one person alone without a family.


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