Thursday, April 21, 2016
Doc McStuffins - Disney Junior Does a Great Job of Handling Fears Kids Have about Adoption
Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins recently ran a five-episode storyline where the McStuffins family brought a new baby into their home, through adoption.
In the first episode, Baby McStuffins, Doc’s parents tell her and her brother Donny that they have a surprise – they will be adopting a baby. Doc is excited to be a big sister, but is also nervous, wondering whether she will be up to the task. Doc is friends with some stuffed animals which come to life in her imagination. Her friends are supportive, and help her get ready to assume the role of a big sister. Doc’s parents assure her that the baby will be a full part of their forever family, and Doc and Donny express their excitement. Doc even says, “I love the new baby already.”
The second story, “Runaway Love” shows the feelings of fear that some children may have prior to their family adopting another child. Donny gets ready to run away, believing that the new baby will make everyone “too busy to play with me.” One of Doc’s toys, Lambie, also feels that they will be replaced by the baby. Lambie expresses, “I sure hope Doc has time for me after the baby comes,” and feels upset when Doc cannot play. Donny wonders if his parents won’t love him as much once the baby comes, and he does temporarily move to a tent set up in the yard. Doc and her other toys being looking for Lambie. Young viewers who fear being replaced will be relieved to hear the search party clearly express their feelings, “We love Lambie and won’t give up till we find her.” Donny’s parents find him, and assure him, “The new baby will not replace you ever. We have enough love for all of you.” Doc assures Lambie, “I will always have enough love for you. You’ll always be my lamb.” A closing song proclaims, “I have plenty of love, can’t keep it to myself, and never running out.”
The third episode, “Hootie’s Duty” shows the McStuffins family as they prepare for a baby shower. Doc’s wise owl toy, Professor Hootsburgh, is charged with training the baby’s new toys on how to be good toys. In order to prepare herself for life in the nursery, Professor Hootsburgh gets subjected to messes, and she is slobbered on by a couple toys. Doc McStuffins intelligently shows many different types of anxiety that youngsters might feel about an upcoming addition to their family, but assures them that “a cuddle and a smile makes it all worthwhile,” and promises, “Act with love, and you’ll do just fine.” A character explains that, although she was nervous, she’ll do “whatever it takes” to make sure that the baby is cared for.
In the fourth episode, “Bringing Home Baby,” Doc’s parents go off to meet the baby, while Doc’s grandmother comes over to babysit Doc and Donny. While waiting for her parents to return, Doc remembers the way each of her toys came into her family. When Doc’s new baby sister arrives, the family declares, “She’s perfect, and totally worth waiting for,” and Doc promises, “I’ll be your sister forever and longer.”
In the final episode, “Baby Names,” Doc’s parents are undecided about what to call their new daughter. The note that her birth mother loves the name Alana, since it’s her grandmother’s name, and so they’ve decided to use that as the baby’s middle name. I love that Doc McStuffins acknowledges and incorporates the birth mother and her wishes. The baby’s new toy, Lala, is scared that the baby’s cries mean that the baby does not like Lala, but other characters reassure Lala that baby’s just cry sometimes. Lala eventually sings a song about the baby, and part of that song becomes the baby’s first name. Although Lala worries that she won’t fit in, Doc assures her, “Home is love and family. You’ll fit in; this is your home.”
Overall, Doc McStuffins covers a range of fears and questions that kids might have about adoption, and does it with warmth, humor, and reassurance. Job well done, Disney!