Movies, especially when they’re good, can often move our emotions, teach us, and help us understand the problems in our lives better than any self-help book, history or scholarly article. Movies are powerful tools because they do something other sources of information can’t – they tell compelling stories, stories that draw us effortlessly into the lives of the characters the movie portrays.
Think about the first time you watched Schindler’s List—odds are you understood, on a visceral level, the Holocaust better than you could have from reading any history of the period. The same could be said for other Hollywood blockbusters that gave you a deeper understanding of the human condition, from Kramer vs. Kramer to Titanic to Avatar.
Being Adopted: A Blessing and a Challenge
Adopted children are fortunate, particularly when they’re adopted by caring, loving parents, but life can be difficult for adopted children. They face challenges birth children don’t, and sometimes find it difficult to understand.
For example, adopted children may deal with feelings of separation and loss. Movies can be a powerful way to build your relationship with your adopted child as well as help them understand that they’re not alone.
The Movies That Can Help
Hollywood has produced a host of movies about adoption, some of which can be especially useful to watch with your adopted child. Here are five of our favorites:
Children, especially those who are experiencing adjustment problems, can sometimes relate better to stories featuring animals than those about people. Chimpanzee is a documentary in which a young chimp loses his birth mother, but is taken in by a new chimp family. Children can relate to the way the alpha male in his new family eventually comes to care for him, and the way the young chimpanzee eventually finds happiness.
This Broadway and cinema classic is fun and entertaining, but it also carries an important message for adopted children, especially girls. The title character must navigate a world populated with uncaring social workers and foster parents who care more about money than about her.
Children will be reassured by the way Annie manages to maintain an unwaveringly positive attitude throughout these experiences (epitomized in the stand-out song, “The Sun Will Come out Tomorrow”). The family-friendly film highlights the essentially positive nature of adoption, and the importance of hope, courage and resilience.
The story of Michael Oher’s successful football career, one helped by the Tuohy family which takes him off the streets and eventually adopts him, is powerful both because the story itself is incredibly compelling, and because it is true. Adopted children will relate to the challenges Michael faces, including feelings of loneliness and isolation, and the way he overcomes those negative emotions through the love and compassion of the family which adopts him.
This is an entertaining animated film with a serious message for adopted children. The central character, Po, is adopted by a goose, Mr. Ping. In this sequel, Ping explains to Po how he came to be adopted, and does so with love and emotional support. This helps Po develop pride in his own history, and gives him the strength to develop self-esteem. Children will like the film because of the fun elements, but will also better understand their own adoption situation.
This film is rated PG-13 and not appropriate for younger children. For older adopted children who are beginning to feel the need for independence, however, Juno is both relatable and powerful. Juno, the title character, learns she is going to have a child and opts for adoption. The adoptive parents eventually divorce, but the mother, who has dreamed of having a child for most of her adult life, decides to complete the adoption on her own.
The film is, at times, edgy, but at its heart carries a powerful message for adopted children. Birth mothers often choose adoption not because they don’t care, but because they understand it’s in the best interest of their child, and adoptive mothers will often make substantial sacrifices because of the extent of their love.
Adoption can be difficult, both for the birth mothers who feel they are not ready to parent, and for the adoptive parents. Fortunately, there are experienced, non-profit adoption agencies in your community whose caring staff can help. Adoption Choices of Nevada is that kind of caring agency.
If you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, feel you’re not ready or prepared to parent, and would like to explore your options, contact us today.