10 Movies About Adoption No. 3: Lilo and Stitch

WallpaperIf you Google a list of adoption movies, Lilo and Stitch isn’t likely to be there. True, it was overlooked by many since it came out durring Disney’s sub-par years, but it’s actually a little gem wedged between the direct-to-video Cinderella II and the deplorable Country Bears. So because of Disney’s track-record the studio was setting for itself at the time, it’s easy to see why many opted out of watching this movie about a destructive alien invading Hawaii.

But it’s good. It’s not a masterpiece, or unforgettable, but it’s a good flick to pop in while the kids are still up and about.

In it, the alien Stitch ends up being adopted by Lilo’s older sister (sorry – spoiler alert). But I think it’s a good reminder that families can be made up of many different nationalities and cultures. And besides that, people outside the world of adoption often can’t imagine adopting a “destructive” or “wild” child, which is essentially what Stich is.

Our seven-month-old is going through a very grouchy stage right now. She’s frustrated that she can’t move on her own from point A to point B. So she cries all day long. Toys don’t make her happy, pacifiers don’t pacify, and don’t even bother trying to put her to sleep – you might as well try taming a rabid zombie.

But still, that doesn’t matter. We love her even when she’s kicking and screaming and blowing bubbles so forcefully that it sprays all over the spinning ceiling fan. And so what if she’s a little loud because she’s teething (or not teething)?

But there’s a line in Lilo and Stitch that we often use in our family, as I’m sure most other fans of the movie use as well:

“Ohana” means “Family” and “Family” means no one gets left behind.

I’m sure our little girl will cause us some headaches and give us ulcers in the coming years, but she’s still our family, and once she is adopted, always will be.

Some foster parents are amazing enough to take in older kids – kids that society has deemed as “troubled” or “a nuisance” – like Stitch. But they’re still worthy of our love and care. They’re still as valuable as anyone else. And they still need a family just like anyone else.

And they’ll probably require a lot more love and attention than other kids, but I think in the end, it can be worth the effort.

This is my family. I found it, all on my own. Is little and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good.

10 Movies About Adoption No. 2: Punky Brewster

Screen-Shot-2014-04-05-at-15.55.02No, this isn’t a movie, but you probably remember this show from the ’80s, about an orphaned girl with mismatched socks and her dog Brandon who were adopted by the old, grouchy, set-in-his-ways Henry Warnimont.

Punky Brewster’s mom ditched her in a grocery store. The eight-year-old was suddenly and unexpectadly abandoned with no one but her dog to comfort her. She and Brandon find themselves living in an empty apartment when the landlord, Henry, finds them occupying the space.

After a series of mishaps, Henry decides to make Punky his foster daughter. At the end of two seasons Henry then proceeds to adopt Punky Brewster to maker her his daughter forever.

True, it’s no Office or Big Bang Theory. Humor-wise it’s proabably closer to Full House than Home Improvement, but it does embody the themes that we are living out in our household with Baby A. being our foster daughter. And it’s a show I plan on using as a tool to help educate our little girl about the journey her mom and me are on in trying to secure her officially as our daughter.

I’m taking the time to point this show out because in an emotional 5-part strand of episodes, entitled “Changes,” in season 2, the show walks viewers through the process of moving from foster care to adoption.

If you haven’t lived out the process, it can be difficult separating foster care from adoption and foster-to-adopt from adoption and all the terms can get kind of jumbled and confusing. You can Youtube “Punky Brewster – Changes” and a list of the five episodes will come up.

If you have an adopted child, sometimes it can be comforting to know that they’re not alone and that there’s nothing wrong or weird about being adopted. Punky never shows resentment toward her foster dad or spends her time hashing out the what-could-have-beens in her life – not that there’s not an appropriate time to do that – but instead, she looks toward the future with hope and optimism with her new father and she recognizes that he loves her just as if she were his biological daughter.

After all, even though Baby A. wasn’t born to us, it’s impossible not to see her as one of our own. And hopefully she’ll always feel that way toward us.

10 Movies About Adoption No. 1: 101 Dalmatians

101dalmatians2lgIt’s very likely that we will be adopting our foster daughter soon, unless something unexpected comes up. So Sarabeth and I are now shifting our focus from Baby A. being in our house for a short time to her being our permanent daughter. And that means that one day, we’ll be explaining to her that she was adopted.

One way for big ideas like that to make a little more sense are through stories. Jesus told parables to make big ideas relatable, or somewhat understandable, and I plan to do the same for Baby A. when she’s older. One story I plan on sharing with her is 101 Dalmatians.

Whether we read the excellent book by Dottie Smith or watch the movie, I’ll share with her that she is like one of the 84 orphaned dalmatian puppies who were on death row. (Except she wasn’t on death row.) But they had no parents. They were lost and alone in a cruel, cold world.

But when Pongo and Perdita were brought to the DeVille Mansion, they hardly had a second thought about taking their 15 biological puppies, along with the 84 others, with them back home.

Just like when we met Baby A. in the hospital, we had no reservations about taking her home to live with us as one of our own.

And to take it a step further, all of us were on death row once, in a cold, dark cell (and many still are), where Satan was feeding us luscious treats and tempting sins to fatten us up, readying us for the slaughter. Until Jesus Christ broke in and rescued us by His death on the cross. He extended His hand for all of us to come home with Him, but only a few of us went with Him, and those few became God’s children through adoption.

The purpose of this series is to point out the adoption themes in some of our most cherished stories so that we can share them with our kids to better help them understand the concept of adoption and the beauty of its life-altering power.

I’ll hope you’ll check back for nine other movies that can be used as a wonderful tool to help explain adoption to our kids.

Baby A. and Up

carl and ellieIn The Art of Up, Tim Hauser makes this thought-provoking observation:

Taken as a whole, Pixar’s films can be viewed as serialized chapters in a single life: from sibling rivalry, early attachment (Toy Story), and socialization (A Bug’s Life), to maturation (Monter’s Inc.), separation, and parenthood (Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo); from protecting the nuclear family (The Incredibles), shifting out of the fast lane (Cars), and rekindling passion (Ratatouille), to planning for future generations (WALL-E), and, finally, accepting death (Up). 

In the movie Up, Carl has his life set to a certain standard, and his goals are fixed without much room for interruption. But interruption knocks on his door (2,000 feet in the air) and presents itself. Throughout the story, Russell the boy slowly but surely wedges his  way into Carl’s heart. And slowly we begin to see the ideology of an adoption form. We learn that Russell is fatherless and Carl steps in as his surrogate father. But the only way for him to do that is by letting go of what’s closest to him.

I’m not like Carl in the sense that I always keep my word (or will die trying), but I do have many of his negative qualities. I’m stubborn and like to have things go my way. But with the arrival of our foster daughter a few months ago, I’ve had to rearrange my comfortable lifestyle a bit.

But I’m not the only one; anyone who’s a parent has had to do this. Parents learn how to watch less TV, get less sleep, and drop everything to assist the needs of the afflicted (or hungry).

And you know, giving all that up is worth it to see my little girl smile with satisfaction or joy just to see me.

I love stories like Up, because it reminds us what we’re living for. Not comfy chairs or waterfalls or prunes, but relationships, and love, and extending our family circle.

We’re so thankful for our rolling, laughing, giggling little girl. Her parents have been MIA these past several months so it looks like transitioning into the official adoption phase is inevitable and very near at hand.

Obviously Sarabeth and I are thrilled and can’t imagine a single a day without Baby A. in our lives. So yeah, she’s worth less sleep and dirty diapers. To us, she’s worth everything in the whole world.

Foster-to-Adopt Update

baby-toes-400jd080509I know many of you follow my blog for different reasons, one of which is to follow our foster-to-adopt story. We’re thrilled that Baby A. will be 5 months old shortly, and are having so much fun watching her learn and grow and discover the world–even if it’s just her toes!

My wife wrote a very nice post summing up our update. Please take a moment to read it on her blog, here.

Chuches, Why Have We Not Yet United?

Russian_orphansPastors, deacons, elders, church members, Sunday school volunteers – I’m curious.

(And please know that I ask myself this same question.)

Two questions, actually.

Two questions that could revolutionize the world.

A question that could shout volumes to the planet of God’s love.

And here’s the first question:

Why are our orphanages so full?

The way I see it is, the fuller the pews are, the emptier the orphanages ought to be.

Doesn’t that just make sense?

Here’s the second question:

It’s a bit more personal.

The last question was directed at the universal Church.

This one’s directed at you. And me. And my wife. And my neighbors. And my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Okay, so here it is:

It’s a scenario, really.

Suppose you received a text message from an unknown sender.

And it said

THERE IS A NEWBORN IN A DUMPSTER SOMEWHERE WITHIN A SIX-MILE RADIUS OF WHERE YOU LIVE.

FIND HIM. SAVE HIM.

Would you not call all your neighbors and friends and family to comb the entire neighborhood, day in and day out, until you found him?

Would you not be dumpster diving in every dark alley?

Folks, there are babies and kids dumped in the orphanages and the hospital every day.

When Sarabeth and I were visiting our Baby A. in the hospital last week, there was a premature baby tucked in the back of the room all that time, crying.

Crying.

Crying.

And no one, that we saw, ever came to visit him.

A newborn left to his own devises in this great big, cruel world.

Our social worker told us that she was on the very brink of calling us the day we brought Baby A. home because, for the life of her, she could find no one to accept the placement of another little boy who needed a home.

But she didn’t want to overwhelm us with two newborns in one day.

The title of this post is, “Churches, Why Have We Not Yet United?”

I think it’s possible, and necessary, for churches to finally come together and encourage, no - admonish, implore  – their members to go out and adopt the local orphans and unwanted children.

We observe Orphan Sunday.

That’s great to name a Sunday after those we’re to care for. But what’s the point if we’re not all going to go out and care for these orphans?

It’s like celebrating Christmas paying no mind to Christ. Or uttering no one word of thanks on Easter.

Or eating pretend food at dinner, Neverland style.

If you smell a universal Chruch-wide calling in the air, if you’re wondering the same things I’m wondering (like why aren’t we as a whole taking this calling seriously), please forward this post on to your pastors, your elders, your deacons, your Bible study groups.

Let’s start something here.

Let’s start a revolution in the name of God.

Let’s flood our country’s orphanages with not only the love, but the presence of believers everywhere, and wash those children into our homes.

Our imperfect, flawed, loving, caring, warm, welcoming, Christ-centered homes.

And change their lives – and the world – to be a little bit more like what God had intended.

If you are interested in joining me in getting the word out to churches everywhere, or if you would like your church to be involved in this, please email me at andrewtoy1208@aol.com.

Please include your church status as a church employee or member,

and please include your name of the church you’re apart of, with their website address, and tell me the city and state.

One last thing, please share your interest in orphan care, by choosing one of the following:

a) I’ve not given it much thought until I read this post

b) I’ve always wanted to be involved, but just didn’t know where to start

c) I’ve adopted/fostered, and would like to educate others about the process

d) I’ve wanted to see something like this happen for a long time – Let’s do it!

Let’s get something started.

 

She’s Not a James, But…

baby_carriage3

I’ve been married for five years, and I just fell in love again.

You’re probably aware that Sarabeth and I have been in the process of becoming foster-to-adopt parents.

We’ve been longing for a child all these years.

Well, we finally got a call last week for a little girl born a month-and-a-half early.

So through a whirlwind of confusion and excitement, we’ve been at the hospital visiting with our beautiful, gorgeous, foster daughter whom I’ll call “A” for privacy reasons.

Seriously, for the first time ever I understand what the big deal is about babies.

I mean, I’ve always been pro-life and have understood the value of a baby’s life, but loving a baby?

Yeah. That’s a new one for me.

Now, we fully understand that, as foster-to-adopt parents, we may not be able to keep her—that there’s only a chance that our time together will end in adoption and little “A” becomes “A. Toy.”

It’s a fear and a faith we’ve never known. But more on that in later posts.

She’s not home with us yet. She’s still at the hospital, but we’ve got everything ready for her big arrival day later this week.

In the meantimes, I’ve learned a few things this weekend as a foster dad:

How to change diapers.

How to swaddle.

That I chose the best wife to be the best mother.

That out of respect for little “A,” I’ll always keep my nose hairs trimmed (not that that’s been a problem).

And my tears aren’t like a Phoenix; they can’t heal my little girl’s tummy cramps, or make her sleep. (I know, I know, let the ultra-cheesiness begin.)

Oh, and I learned one more thing.

While I had given up on God waiting for a child all this time, He was busy giving A. life, forming her, shaping her, caring for her.

So even while I was angry at God for “holding out” on us, He still came through. And now, I don’t want any other baby in the universe but her. Even if she does cry and fuss all night long.

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