Adoption and the Movies


PopcornThinking about seeing a movie with your kids this weekend? I know; there isn’t much out at this time of the year, however you can pop and butter some corn, sit down together on your cozy couch, and catch the recent first-run you’ve wanted to see, or watch an old favorite or two.

As wonderful as movies can be, they can be triggers for the child who has been adopted, presenting adoption-related themes in such a way that your child relates it to their unique story and how they feel about it. Many movies revolve around the common themes of being different (The Blind Side, Elf), loss and abandonment (Babe, Thor), orphans (all Harry Potter movies, Despicable Me), and searching for birth member families (August Rush, Tangled).

Watching movies with children who have been adopted can be challenging, but also provide you with a “springboard” for helping your child open up about adoption and their feelings. As I’ve found with my kids, children respond to movies differently depending on their developmental stage and how it relates to their story.  As a parent you’ll want to consider whether your child can separate fantasy from reality and how he or she currently navigates the presented issues/themes in the movie with adoption.

I encourage you to preview movies before your child sees them, or talk with other adoptive parents about the themes and how they are portrayed; for example, is adoption portrayed as negative? Language and dialogue is often outdated and insensitive. Birth, foster and adoptive parents are often stereotyped in the movies, sometimes negatively.

Adoption Mosaic has created a nifty little booklet called Adoption in the Movies. This resource provides brief overviews of twenty-seven movies, with insightful points and questions. Make when your child watches the movie for the first time a family event. Knowing what to expect will help you handle questions and comments naturally. And remember, just because your child isn’t asking doesn’t mean he or she isn’t thinking about it. Be prepared to present some simple open-ended questions of your own.

Food for Thought: What are some of your favorite and least favorite movies that have adoption themes and issues woven into the storyline? Why?

~Photo by ciaraanicolee

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Von March 2, 2012 at 8:56 pm

“Birth, foster and adoptive parents are often stereotyped in the movies, sometimes negatively” adoptees too of course and it is as well to be extremely careful about those stereotypes with young adoptees. I’m not quite sure what you mean by “negatively” but as all adoptees know not all parents are perfect!


Judy March 3, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Hi Von,
I’d go further to say that the majority of all children understand that their parents aren’t perfect.


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