Tuesday, January 21, 2014
The Blind Side Adoption Movie Guide
Michael Oher is a teenager without a home. He has a good heart, but his family is undependable and his neighborhood is unsafe. He catches the eye of the Tuohy family – they take Michael under their wing, provide him with shelter, clothes, and love. He fits well in their family. Encouraged and supported by the Tuohys, Michael begins playing football at the school and quickly excels. When he is recruited by colleges, an NCAA representative finds it suspicious that Michael has chosen to attend the school preferred by the Tuohys. The agent raises the question – why would the Tuohys have cared so much for Michael unless they were doing so to influence his decision. This shakes Michael’s world – because he had come to depend on them.
How is This Relevant to Adoption or Foster Care?
Like many older teens in governmental care, Michael has a hard time finding a place to call home. He has overheard people not wanting him. He questions the motivations of those who do want to help him. But he is a valuable person with gifts and talents who is able to thrive, once placed in a supportive and stable environment. Maslow said something about that…
The Tuohy family is really excellent. They embrace Michael quickly, and do not abandon him when difficulties strike. Michael is the driver in an accident that injures the family’s young son, but they embrace Michael and show they care for him. Mrs. Tuohy’s friends openly, consistently disagree with her decision to embrace Michael as part of her family, so she challenges them overtly, “I don’t need you to approve my choices, but I need you to respect them. I can leave if you don’t.” She advocates for him in school. She quickly includes him in a family Christmas card. The Tuohys also try to learn about Michael – Mrs. Tuohy asks him to share everything about him that she should know. Sean, the youngest child in the family, introduces Michael as “my big brother.”
Mrs. Tuohy does a great job of reframing her experience of parenting a teenager. One friend commends her, “You’re doing so great, changing that boy’s life.” She responds, “No; he’s changing mine.”
Michael highlights the importance of identity. He asks for help getting a driver’s license. Mrs. Tuohy asks why, and he says that he wants “something to carry with my name on it.”
Social workers are challenged when they suggest transferring parental rights of Michael to Mrs. Tuohy. She is galled that they would “give him away without even asking his mother.”
When he is asked whether he wants to be part of the family, Michael explains, “I kind of thought I already was.”
Mrs. Tuohy is a bit pushy, and kind of forces her help on Michael. She eventually does ask him what he wants.
The family faces some uncomfortable but realistic race-centered stereotypical and prejudiced comments from their friends. People adopting cross-culturally should unfortunately be prepared for negative comments from some folks. Mrs. Tuohy’s response to the commenter was simply, “Shame on you.”
Most of his file has been lost by the social service agency that had handled his case. Michael is not able to get his birth certificate, but the Tuohys promise to help fix the situation. Their attention to his needs is great, but when he graduates, they use a generic photo in place of his missing baby photo.
The portrayal of Michael’s community and birth mother is pretty negative, and could unintentionally play into the stereotypes that the film overtly tries to counter.
The Blind Side is a positive movie. It enjoyed success in the box office, and it deserved it. Well-acted, with lots of positive stuff to love. This one is good for ages 10 and up, with the caveat that there are a couple frightening scenes of violence in Michael’s home community.
Questions for Discussion after the movie
What’s the difference between charity and parenting?
When did Michael become a part of the Tuohy family? Was it in stages or all at once?
A while back, Lori Holden also reviewed this film. Check out what she said.