On a sepia-toned rainy night a woman, obscured by shadow and hood and fearful of being seen, hugs her bundled infant one last time and leaves him on the doorstep of the Sixth Street Orphanage. Twelve years later, Lewis has sat through 124 adoption interviews, none of which resulted in his adoption. He almost gives up hope. Through the magic of Disney, Lewis travels twenty years into the future to meet the loving family that will eventually be his. He returns to his regular life with his hope restored. The movie ends as Lewis is adopted by his new, lovably weird parents.
Lewis shares an orphanage room with Mike, and both boys sit through interviews with prospective adoptive parents. Scenes from several of Lewis’ interviews show him optimistically sharing his inventions with prospective adoptive parents. None of them adopt him, and eventually Lewis loses his optimism.
One scene is loaded with adoption content. Lewis is sad after an unsuccessful interview. Mildred follows him and affirms that the family’s choice is not Lewis’ fault. Lewis responds that he’s almost 13, and that being a teenager makes being adopted less likely. He feels as though no one wants him – not even his birth mother. Mildred suggests that his birth mother loved him, and may have wanted to keep him, but couldn’t. Lewis latches on to this, and says, “My real mother is the only person who ever wanted me.” His desire to belong somewhere fuels his desire to find her, and his desire find her drives the movie. Lewis is eventually adopted.
Mildred, the orphanage director, is loving and positive. This is rare in movie portrayals of orphanage directors! Mildred smiles lovingly at Lewis when she first seems him, as an infant on her doorstep. Twelve years and 124 adoption interviews later, Mildred still believes in Lewis and shows her belief in him. Before an interview she tells him, “Go show them how special you are.”
The movie highlights the benefit of persistence. Lewis is adopted, even after 124 unsuccessful adoption interviews. One of his inventions took over 900 tries, but he finally got it right. His adoptive family celebrates failures for the lessons learned, and his own motto is “Keep Moving Forward.”