Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Parker's Anchor

After infertility breaks her heart – and ends her marriage – Krystal Parker heads back to her hometown in Arkansas, trying to recover and refocus. She’s supported by her longtime friend Corinne, who does have some news she hasn’t mentioned to Krystal – and she might find a new anchor in Corinne’s brother-in-law Jared.

** SPOILERS AHEAD THE REST OF THE WAY **





The Adoption Connection
Some adoptive parents will resonate with Krystal’s infertility, and will also resonate with Krystal’s mixed feelings when she discovers that Corinne is pregnant.

Krystal and Jared strike up a relationship. Jared works with youth, and one of the young women he works with has approached him – she is pregnant, and she asks him to find an adoptive family for her expected child. Krystal and Jared start their life together, and eventually adopt this child.


Strong Points

In the midst of a very difficult season, Krystal finds support in her longtime friends.
Krystal feels isolated in her infertility, and is surprised to find that others in her social circle also have experienced it.

The film offers hope and some guidance to folks struggling with infertility and heartbreak – don’t let it stop you from living your life, and don’t let it keep you isolated. Have hope, because you can play a part in guiding your life, even if it has gone through seasons you wouldn’t have chosen.

Jared and Krystal are open enough with their daughter’s adoption that they keep her birthname.


Challenges

The way in which the adoption is presented seems oversimplified and perhaps unrealistically quick and uncomplicated.


Recommendations

Parker’s Anchor is a charming story. It seems likely to be helpful as part of the pre-adoption process for people who are considering adoption after having struggled with infertility.


Questions for Discussion
A character tells Krystal that everything will work out – that what she’s going through is part of a bigger plan. It’s intended – and received – as helpful advice, and for some folks, it will be helpful. Others have expressed challenges with that belief as it pertains to adoption, and feel more comfortable with the belief that bad things happen that shouldn’t have happened, but good can be brought out of them. Does one of these views align more closely with your own viewpoint? Which is more helpful to you? What’s the value of the other viewpoint?

If infertility has been a part of your journey towards adoption, how have you dealt with your feelings regarding the infertility?


What level of openness would you be comfortable with in an adoption?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Storyteller Adoption Movie Review (Spoilers)

When Abby shows up at Rosemary’s nursing home, she is hungry, dirty, and haggard. Rosemary introduces Abby as her big sister, which seems unlikely, given that Rosemary is elderly and Abby seems to be around eight years old. When social services arrive, Rosemary asks her granddaughter Maggie to take Abby home; Maggie has adopted previously, and she has space to take in another child. She reluctantly agrees to take in Abby for one night. Although this upsets Maggie’s daughter Jen, Maggie anticipates that the placement will be very brief.

** SPOILERS AHEAD THE REST OF THE WAY **








The Adoption Connection

Maggie and her husband adopted Jen; Jen was a distant relative of Maggie’s husband. However, Maggie’s husband died a year ago, and the bond between Maggie and Jen has never been particularly strong. Abby’s arrival at the home upsets teenage Jen, who felt that she should have had a voice in the decision and generally feels disenfranchised from the home in the aftermath of her adoptive father’s death. She discovers a secret that adds to her anger at, and distance from, Maggie. Jen had been abused in foster care and had engaged in some self-harming behaviors prior to being adopted.

Abby’s past is shrouded in mystery. Like Dennis in Martian Child, Abby seems to have a fantastical explanation for who she is, and there is some willingness on the part of her new family – and of the viewer – to believe her story, but in truth, Abby has been abused, and is now on the run, fearful of being taken back to her abusers. On two occasions she attempts to run away from Maggie’s care because she is fearful of being taken away and returned to an unsafe situation.


Strong Points

Abby finds a loving family in Maggie, Jen, and Rosemary.

The Storyteller is a story of healing, rebuilding, and belonging.
A line in the film captures a helpful and powerful truth, “Because you love me as I am, we are family.”


Challenges

It’s a little confusing at times whether Abby’s story is true or not, and some kids could take it literally when elderly Rosemary tells young Abby that Abby must watch after Maggie; some kids have felt the responsibility of caring for adults rather than being cared for, and this aspect of the film could be tricky for them.

Some thematic elements push this film out of bounds for younger viewers.


Recommendations

The Storyteller is a beautiful, encouraging film that tugs appropriately on my heartstrings in the same way that ReMoved does. It gets a strong recommendation for adoptive parents, foster parents, and folks considering becoming foster or adoptive parents, and it could also be helpful for teens who will become foster or adoptive siblings when their parents become foster parents.


Questions for Discussion

Most behaviors make sense within a given context; why do you think Abby tried to run away? How would you respond if you were parenting her?

Where did Abby’s fanciful backstory come from? What purpose did it serve in her life?

What does Abby most need in order to feel safe?


Why was Jen unhappy with Abby coming into the home? How did her feelings change?

Other Ideas

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Paddington 2 Adoption Movie Review (Spoilers)

Paddington has become comfortable living with the Brown family, and he still thinks fondly of his Aunt Lucy, who sent him to London from Peru. He hopes to get a special present for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday. He tries to save up money to buy the expensive gift, but it is stolen from the store. Paddington is seen at the scene of the crime, and is wrongfully believed to be the thief. He is imprisoned, and the Browns must work to clear his name, while he must maintain his hope that they won’t forget him.

** SPOILERS AHEAD THE REST OF THE WAY **




Paddington was taken into the Brown home during the first Paddington film; he was initially brought in for a short time, to save him from being dangerously on his own. By the end of the first film, Paddington had become a permanent member of the Brown family. The background of the film is particularly relevant to adoption. The second film opens with more insight into Paddington’s early childhood. As a very young cub, he was rescued from danger and then raised by the two bears who he came to call his uncle and aunt. Children who have been adopted after spending time in foster care may easily relate to Paddington’s history.

That might make it all the more troubling for this children when Paddington is wrongfully accused of a crime and, because of this, is taken by the police away from his crying family. Paddington is incarcerated, and although he does quickly make friends with the other inmates, they tell him that his family will forget him – and that Paddington will be able to tell when they start missing visits. Shortly after, his family does miss a visit because they are working to clear his name; Paddington doesn’t know this though, and believes that his family has genuinely forgotten him. Although this relationship is ultimately repaired, I see two ways in which this could be triggering to young viewers. First, kids may fear losing their current, permanent family, and this film could be frightening on those lines. Secondly, many kids who have been through foster care have painful experiences of their birth family members not coming to visits, and a fear of being forgotten is not uncommon. Kids with one or both of these experiences could find this central aspect of the film particularly uncomfortable.


Strong Points

Paddington is obviously loved by his bear family and his human family, and is embraced by the majority of his neighbors. It could be possible for parents to point out to their children just how well-loved Paddington is by so many people.

Paddington’s connection to his Aunt Lucy is still important to him, even though he is now a part of the Brown family. They understand how important that connection is to him, and although he fears that she’ll feel forgotten because he wasn’t able to get her a present (Big spoiler….) they arrange for Aunt Lucy to travel from Peru to visit Paddington in London for her birthday.

Paddington’s family believes in him, even when others do not.


Challenges

A neighbor frames Paddington for the crime, and does not care that Paddington’s life may be ruined.
Paddington is sentenced to 10 years in jail by a biased judge, on the testimony of the actual criminal.
One of Paddington’s fellow inmates has a very gruff exterior, but Paddington breaks through. The character confesses that his father “always said I’d amount to nothing, and he was right.” It’s a sad statement, but it may provide some insight into the power of words – and an opportunity to explore any untrue, negative statements that a kid may have unfortunately taken to heart.

Paddington participates in a prison break. He is initially abandoned by his friends from prison.
Paddington is told by his incarcerated friends, “Sooner or later, the Browns will forget you. They’ll miss one visit, then two, then before you know it, you won’t have a home to go home to.” 
Unfortunately, the Browns do miss a visit, and we see Paddington sitting alone in the visitation area as the visit time ends. In his imagination, he sees himself fading out of the Browns’ family photo. It’s very sad.

One character follows in the footsteps of a greedy ancestor who was willing to kill to get rich.


Recommendations

There are certainly some huge potential triggers in this film, which might make it a risky choice for some young viewers touched by adoption or foster care. Parents should screen it first if there are some concerns after reading this review. What I do like about the film, though, is that it captures the importance of Aunt Lucy in Paddington’s life, even though he isn’t being raised by her any more, and it also shows how well-loved Paddington is by all branches of his family, and by the town. This is probably a good choice for kids ages 10 and up; parents should screen it before sharing it with foster or adoptive kids much younger than that.


Questions for Discussion

Why didn’t Paddington’s family come to his visit? How did Paddington feel? Why did he think they didn’t come? Was he correct?
Did Knuckles believe what his dad had told him? Was his dad right?

How many people can you think of who loved Paddington?

Other Ideas

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Justice League Adoption Movie Review

(There are spoilers throughout this review)

In the wake of Superman’s death, the ancient villain Steppenwolf returns to Earth, intending to use three Mother Boxes to transform the earth into a desolate place. Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash eagerly join forces to save the world, and are later joined by Cyborg and Aquaman. When it is apparent that their combined efforts will not be enough to defeat Steppenwolf, they consider a frightening solution – they must use the chaotic power of the Mother Boxes to resurrect Superman. 
Superman is reborn, and his powers do return immediately, but he does not remember who he is. To be effective for the forces of good, Superman must first remember who he is.


The Adoption Connection

One character visits his father in prison; his father expresses, “I want you to stop coming to see me; I am a drag on your life.” This deeply hurts his young adult son, who continues to try to vindicate and impress his father.

Aquaman does not know his mother. Another character tells him that she knew her; Aquaman replies, “That makes one of us. Mom left me without a second thought.” The other character replies that his mother “left you to save your life,” and then says that because he is related to her, he must fulfill the role his mother once filled.  


Strong Points

Superman expresses a good sentiment, “Hope, like car keys, is easy to lose, but if you dig around, it’s usually close by.”

Superman does eventually remember who he is when he is greeted by Lois Lane. His mother also finds him and tearfully embraces him.

Cyborg had questioned whether his life was worth living, after it had been badly altered due to an explosion. He ultimately realizes, “I really like being alive.”


Challenges

Some frightening monsters, violence (a character appears to have his robotic leg ripped off,) and an attempt by a terrorist group to plunge the world “into the dark ages” could scare some viewers. The resurrection of Superman, and a scene in which two heroes dig up his coffin, could be uncomfortable for some, and it could be triggering for viewers with issues of unresolved loss.

Aquaman says that he was abandoned by his mother; this is left unresolved.

A character’s father is kidnapped.


Recommendations

Justice League captures that hope is real, and that life is worth living even after loss or trauma. Some frightening aspects might make it a bad choice for young or sensitive viewers, and certain aspects of the story could brush up against issues of abandonment (Aquaman briefly says that his mother abandoned him) or loss (Superman’s casket is dug up). This film could be good for teenagers who won’t be bothered by the scenes mentioned in the Challenges section, and seems best suited to ages 13 and up. 

Parents could use the film as a springboard into conversations about hope and healing from loss and hardship – Superman’s childhood house has been sold, Batman has lost his parents and lives a relatively isolated life, The Flash’s father is in prison and he has few friends, Aquaman was abandoned as a child, Wonder Woman lives far from her family, and Cyborg’s body has been badly damaged – yet in spite of these losses and pains, each character joins with the others to work together effectively for good.


Questions for Discussion

Which character had the hardest loss? How did they recover from it?
Why did the Flash join the team?

Which character do you think is the bravest?

How have the experiences you’ve faced in your life shaped you? What strengths do you have?

If you could have any super power, what would it be? What powers do you already have?



Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Top Posts of 2017

Thanks for another great year of watching movies through the lens of adoption.

Here's our top ten most-viewed posts of 2017:



10. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2   

9. Born in China

8. Anne with an E

7. Despicable Me 3

6. Beauty and the Beast

5. Smurfs: Lost Village

4. 2017 Adoption at the Movies Awards

3. Boss Baby

2. Coco

1. The Lego Batman Movie 

I'm also grateful for two big landmarks this year: the Adoption at the Movies book was published, and we've reached over 1,000,000 visits to our site!


Here's to many more movies and memories in 2018!
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