Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Adoption Movie Review: The Hobbit

A Hobbit named Bilbo enjoys his peaceful existence. Then a visitor from his past invites him on an unexpected adventure that will direct the course of his life. 

And How is This Relevant to Adoption or Foster Care?

Bilbo’s adventure is more or less thrust upon him. Both good and bad come of it. While he does ultimately have the final choice of whether or not to join the adventure, the sudden and “unexpected” nature of the journey may mirror the suddenness with which some children find themselves in foster care. While they ultimately have the choice to accept what’s happened or not, the happenings are often quite unexpected and uninvited.

Bilbo overhears Thorin, one of the adventurers, complaining that Bilbo does not belong. This resonates with Bilbo, who initially chooses to leave the party. Children being raised in foster care or in adoptive families may feel that they do not belong. Sadly, they may also overhear (or even be told) the same. 

Strong Points

Although Thorin initially proclaims that Bilbo does not belong in his company, he later repents of this in strong words, saying that he has never been more wrong. Even when Thorin was against Bilbo, another adventurer tried to convince Bilbo that he belongs.

Bilbo has compassion on the adventurers, understanding that they were on their adventure because they had no place to call home. Bilbo has a home which he loves, and he is saddened that the adventures do not have one. He chooses to help them.

There is much, in general, to commend about this film. Thorin praises his adventurers, in spite of their unathletic appearances, because they have loyalty, honor, and willing hearts. Gandalf admonishes Bilbo that true courage “is about knowing not when to take a life, but when to spare one.” Bilbo earns Thorin’s esteem by proving himself courageous.


Bilbo was only accepted by Thorin when he risked his life to save Thorin’s. Bilbo did show great bravery here, but there is a potential concern. Children in care might identify with Bilbo feeling like an outsider. Thorin is the leader of the company, a homogenous group. All dwarves. Thorin refuses to include the different person, the Hobbit. Bilbo only earns his acceptance and inclusion through bravery, it is not extended unconditionally. Thorin might be seen by some viewers as an analogue for a father, and an unfortunate message that might be unwittingly derived from the film is that, to be accepted and included into your new family, you’ve really got to earn it.

Weak Points

Because this film has such a wide base of appeal, many children will be taken to see it. There are many frightening elements which could serve as triggers for some kids: witchcraft, ghostly figures, sword fighting including death, and scary bad guys could all be problematic for some younger viewers.

Questions for Discussion after the movie

For Kids:

Have parts of your life ever felt like an unexpected journey?

Sometimes, Bilbo felt like an outsider. Once, he felt so much like an outsider that he wanted to leave. When have you felt that way?

Thorin stopped viewing Bilbo as an outsider when Bilbo was very brave. Do you feel like you have to do something to earn your way into a family or group of friends, or do they just let you in?

For Foster/Adoptive Parents

What have the kids in your home heard (or what may they have overheard!) about whether they belong in your family? What do you want them to know?

A Project:

Bilbo is in the process of writing his memoirs. He’s creating something of a “Life Book.” Life 

Books are valuable for all kids, and perhaps particularly so for those who are, or have been, in foster care. The Iowa Foster & Adoptive Parents Association offers some excellent, free resources for helping a child create their own Life Book.  Purchase an attractive blank journal, and using the IFAPA resources as a guide, encourage your child to write and title their own story of an “Unexpected Journey.”

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*Notebook photo by Rachelyra @ Flickr

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