Saturday, April 26, 2014

Adventure Time Escape From the Citadel Adoption Review - Birthfather Abandonment

I just watched my first episode of Adventure Time. The Cartoon Network series centers around a boy named Finn and his dog, Jake.  Season 6 began on Monday with a two-part episode comprised of “Wake Up” and “Escape from the Citadel.”

 Finn has recently learned that his father is alive. Finn was abandoned as a baby. He has learned that his father is at The Citadel, a high-security prison. He imagines that his father is the warden there.

Finn takes great risks to get to the Citadel; when he arrives, he finds that his father is one of the prisoners. 

Image via Rebloggy
His father appears completely disinterests in Finn. He asks Finn for help in escaping, initially ignoring the news that Finn in his son. Later, he uses the family relationship to manipulate Finn into helping him further.
Finn finally asks his father, “Why’d you abandon me when I was a little baby?” His father brushes off the question, answering, “I’m a funny guy. It was a long time ago. Maybe you left me.”

Finn’s father shortly abandons Finn again. Although Jake counsels Finn that his father is “a loser” and “not worth it,” Finn tries to chase him, but his father desperately tries to escape, ultimately costing Finn an arm, and nearly his life.
When Finn is rescued, he sits with two close friends who comfort him by their presence.

The show ends as another newborn character is abandoned at the doorstep of a nearly-divorcing couple. 

The wife exclaims, upon seeing the baby, “This changes everything.”

From what I’ve read, Adventure Time is an intelligent show which is well-loved by kids and adults. Not too many cartoons (none?) have explored a character’s recovery from the very real emotional pain of perceived (or in this case, actual) parental abandonment.

I could see this episode being helpful for some kids who have experienced abuse or neglect. It could give them permission to acknowledge their love for the parent who abused them, their sadness at that parent’s absence, and the wrongness of the parent’s actions.

For some kids in foster care – and for some foster families and adoptive families - the episode could reinforce fears and overly negative stereotypes of birthparents – and particularly of birth fathers. The episode is currently available for viewing on iTunes.

Do you or your kids watch Adventure Time? If they saw this episode, what was their reaction? What was yours?

Questions for Discussion

How do you think Finn felt when he learned that his father was alive?

What did he imagine of his father? How did he feel when his expectations were unmet?

In what ways is your story like Finn’s? In what ways is it different?  

·         Thanks to Dan Portnoy for recommending the episode.

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