Tuesday, October 3, 2017

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Adoption Movie Review (E.T. and Foster Care)

A group of extraterrestrial scientists are exploring a forest in California. To avoid discovery, they hurriedly reboard their spaceship and depart, but they unintentionally leave behind one of their own. The alien left behind goes into hiding, but is discovered by ten-year-old Elliot, who finds him in a shed in his yard. Elliot lives with his mother Mary, teenage brother Michael and five-year-old sister Gertie; his father has recently left the family to be in another relationship, and Mary is still angry and sad about this. Elliot, Michael and Gertie try to hide the alien, who identifies himself as E.T., and caring for her draws them together.

E.T. and Elliot develop a very close, perhaps telesympathetic connection through which Elliot feels E.T.’s feelings, and this often results in Elliot acting erratically. E.T. expresses a desire to contact his people so that he can return home; Elliot and his siblings try to help him do this, but they must race against E.T.’s declining health, and against the government agents who want to examine this newly-discovered alien.

E.T. recently was brought back into theaters by Fathom Events in honor of its 35th anniversary. This week, Fathom Events is showing Mully Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings in theaters throughout the US. Mully is the story of “The world’s largest family,” and it will be reviewed here soon. One of Fathom Events’ next features to revisit the big screen will be The Princess Bride. Find out more here...


The Adoption Connection

Elliot’s family is grieving the departure of their father.

E.T. reminds me of how a child might experience their journey through foster care towards reunification. E.T. has been separated from his family, and he longs to go back to them. Some government officials appear to be obstacles in his way to reunification, and there’s a lot to be accomplished before he can go home.  He lives with a family that takes care of him, helps him, and supports his reunification, and eventually, with their help and with the help of one friendly governmental official, E.T. is able to go back home. He will always remember his time with Elliot’s family, and Elliot will always remember him. 

Strong Points

Although they have had some conflict, Elliot, Mike and Gertie work together very well to help care for E.T.

When Elliot is away overnight, his mother is visibly distressed; she gladly welcomes him back home.


There are some moments that could be frightening to young children; police offers have rifles ready to stop Elliot and E.T. from escaping. Some kids could be scared by what appears to be a home invasion by government agents.

E.T. and Elliot both appear to approach death. I imagine many kids will cry at this scene.


E.T.is a classic film. Kids with experience of foster care or adoption might relate to E.T.’s separation from his family, and his eventual return there. There are some scary moments, and some sad moments, but E.T. is overall a magical story filled with love. Some kids may be triggered by the concept of E.T.’s separation from his family or Elliot’s separation from his father, or by the apparent death of E.T.  For other kids, this film will be memorable, and it could be an entryway into conversations about longing to return home while also building trusting relationships with a new family. E.T suggests that even if you live somewhere only temporarily, the relationships can be lifelong.

Questions for Discussion

What did E.T. feel like before Elliot found him? What helped him to feel safe with Elliot?

Do you think E.T. and Elliot will remember each other for a long time?

Elliot and E.T.’s brains and feelings matched each other. Is there anyone whose feelings match yours 
most of the time?

If you could ride a flying bike, where would you go?

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