Thursday, December 19, 2019

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Spoiler Adoption Movie Guide

Adoption issues have been present throughout the Star Wars series – Luke Skywalker lives under misconceptions about his birth father, then believes he must oppose him, and finally reconciles with him. Luke and Leia meet as strangers (and love interests) and later learn that they are siblings. In the most recent movies, we meet Rey, a young woman with no family connection, and no last name. We meet Kylo Ren, who has turned away from his birth parents and birth name in favor of the destiny he believes awaits him because of his ancestry. In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the galaxy faces an ultimate threat, while Kylo and Rey both wrestle with deep questions of identity. What determines someone’s identity? Is your future determined by your ancestry or by your choices? The age-old question of nature between nurture is explored among lightsaber duels and starships in a galaxy far, far away.

(Spoilers ahead the rest of the way – I’ll try to avoid fully disclosing important plot points, but it might be impossible to analyze the movie without alluding to any plot points.)

The Adoption Connection

Several prominent characters in the Star Wars universe are either adopted or are dealing with issues relevant to adoption. In this movie, Rey and Kylo struggle with parallel questions of identity: who are you? Does knowing your heritage determine your future? How important is a name?
And how important is your story. One character appears to hold information over Rey, saying “I need you to see who you are; I know the rest of your story.”

The question of Rey’s full name is raised twice in the movie. Her initial answer is that she doesn’t have a last name. When the question resurfaces later in the film her answer is incredibly powerful.
One character was badly mistreated at home; he finds himself surrounded by safe people, but initially backs away from them nervously. A friendly character assures him, “Someone treated you badly; you’re with us now,” and he makes some improvement, but his fear appears to remain constant.
A character struggles with whether broken relationships can be restored. Another character’s family loyalties are tested in a way that could be relevant to some adoptees.

Strong Points

In several ways, the adoption-relevant story elements are resolved in ways that seem positive and affirming for most adoptees.

“Some things are stronger than blood” could be a validating statement for some adoptees.
Although Rey has spent much of her younger years without family, it’s clear that she has found a new family made of the friends that have grown to love her. Some of the closest bonds don’t depend on genealogy.

Characters make good decisions when faced with hard, impactful decisions. Characters act selflessly.


I can imagine that some children who are fearful of abusive relatives that they lived with in the past might see some of their deeper fears reflected in some aspects of this movie. Families in the Star Wars universe are often plagued by separation and violence. Luke was estranged from his father, then fought him, each badly injuring the other. Earlier in this trilogy, Kylo Ren killed his father. In this film, there is potential for estranged relatives to cause each other serious physical harm.

A child calls after their departing mother, screaming in terror.

A common theme in movies is parents separating themselves from their child for the child’s own good. In many movies, this is a plot device which portrays the absent parent as noble, but also leaves the child relatively free to make complete, whole attachments to their new family. In this movie, a child has been “sold” away from their parents. For real life adoptees, this is probably an oversimplification of most stories, and it’s certainly different from the experience of kids adopted from foster care after experiencing abuse or neglect.
Rey believes for a time that no one truly knows her.


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a fitting, satisfying end to the recent trilogy of films, and does a moderately fair job of concluding the saga.  The action, violence, and struggles of the film seem to suit it best for an audience of ages 11 or 12 and up. Preteens and teens might also notice the parallels between the film and their own story, and it could be helpful to them to have parents ask what they thought about elements of the film that seem most relevant.

Questions for Discussions

What do you think of the last question and answer in the film?

What part does ancestry play in someone’s life? What parts are free will? How do you see that in Rey and in Kylo? How does that match up to what you think about real life?

Welcome to Adoption at the Movies. If this is your first time, I’m glad to meet you. If you’ve been a longtime reader, you probably know that this is our first post in a long time. I'm not sure how often I'll post, but it's good to be back, and thanks for sticking around!

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