Three women's lives share a common core: they have all been profoundly affected by adoption. KAREN (Annette Bening) had a baby at 14, gave her up at birth, and has been haunted ever since by the daughter she never knew. ELIZABETH (Naomi Watts) grew up as an adopted child; she's a bright and ambitious lawyer, but a flinty loner in her personal life. LUCY (Kerry Washington) is just embarking with her husband on the adoption odyssey, looking for a baby to become their own. Though Karen and Elizabeth are strangers to each other, they both struggle with the past's emotional repercussions; a testy discomfort with personal attachments and a penchant for solitude tinged with bitterness. The same unanswered questions resonate for both these women; who was that absent daughter or mother? Would trying to find her be a mistake? Can forgiveness be sought or given? For Lucy, who longs to be a mother, adoption is both a great hope and a scary leap of faith. The men in their lives offer support (and, in one instance, disappointment); Karen's attentive generous co-worker PACO (Jimmy Smits); Elizabeth's older boss and lover PAUL (Samuel L. Jackson); and Lucy's patient husband JOSEPH (David Ramsey). With both humor and pathos, MOTHER AND CHILD brings this ensemble together to reveal the emotional complexity of families lost and found.