“Mo gets adopted and then his parents bring him back to the orphanage,” says, Max this morning while getting ready for school. I scooped him up and hugged him very tight and repeated over and over that, “This will NEVER happen. Mommies and Daddies are for forever and ever and ever and even that isn’t long enough. Do you hear me?” I repeated it about ten times. Max looked like he was about to cry and shook his head yes, but did not look convinced. He said, “well, it happened in the movie.”
Many bloggers and writers have covered the issue of how horrendously movies and books discuss the issue of adoption. My good friend Joan wrote about it last year for NJ.com. Just last summer both Despicable Me and Kung Fu Panda ( a karate master and most beloved character of Max’s) handled the story line irresponsibly and hurtfully. We knew there was an orphanage issue in The Three Stooges, but the lure of people poking each other in the eyes and hitting over the head with a hammer was just too great for Max and he couldn’t be swayed. We have tried to keep Sophie from these movies because she has expressed pain about the messages in the past. She too could not be swayed. We are also not going to ignore the fact that these issues exist and try to isolate our children from the rest of the world.
Max is adopted too and he is finally old enough to pay attention when the word hits his ears. Why, again, why is it ok for these movies to treat adoption like it does? In every movie, the only “real” parents are the biological ones and almost every time the adoptive parents are cruel, evil and eventually return the children because they were “bad.” This is unacceptable in 2012.
I rarely rage against the Machine, the Man, or anything else for that matter because I don’t care enough about the silly things most people rage against. However, I do care enough about this. Adoption is not a taboo subject and it is not something that needs to be hidden. However, there is a line that needs to be drawn in children’s movies so that the message being sent is not that your parents will return you to the orphanage as soon as they are done with you.
I am an honest person, I know very well that I did not give birth to my children. In fact, my own mother didn’t give birth to me either. I am very grateful to the women who did and very grateful that they gave us Max and Sophie. I support birth mothers’ rights, I support the political agendas of all the members of the “triad” and I understand all the issues better than anyone. However, there is not one second of one day that goes by that I am not my childrens’ real mother. And, even more important, there is nothing on earth, not life nor death that will separate us from our children. Yes, we can take a joke, make a joke and even marvel at the fact that no one in our entire family is related to anyone else. But, that never means that we would return our children under any circumstances. In fact, given some of our circumstances, don’t you think we would have? See, I can make a joke too.
I can hear the comments now, ” It’s just a movie, lighten up.” “It’s supposed to be funny, nobody thinks it’s real.”” Oh, adoption, I didn’t even notice that was an issue.” Yes, I know that there are plenty of fantastical, imaginary, and impossible things in movies that could never happen in real life. However, our society has decided that certain things need to be discussed in certain ways and portrayed in an acceptable manner. We can’t mention Christmas in school or have a party because someone might be offended. We use certain language to discuss blended families, multiple mommies, and people of color. We are learning to rally against the word “retard” even though we have not yet been successful.
Why is it still ok to think that adoption does not make a real family?