10 Movies About Adoption No. 4: Meet the Robinsons

Meet_the_robinsons_wallpaper-400x250So I’ve been talking a little about movies about adoption. When adopted kids are of age to learn about their adoption, it doesn’t have to be a bad or negative thing. In fact, it isn’t even remotely that. And some films and shows out there actually give adoption a very good name, which could be helpful to watch with our kids. One such movie is Disney’s Meet the Robinsons.

As silly and goofy parts of the movie may be, there are some very moving scenes when the story refocuses itself around Louis’s adoption by the gigantic and zany Robinson family.

There are no qualifiers. Louis is with the Robinsons for less than a day when they learn he has no parents and immediately they are ready to take him in as a son. That’s a big point about adoption, is that no one earns it. The only prerequisite is that they are available. Our little girl did nothing to earn her place in our home and our hearts. She just simply was. And we loved her immediately for it.

On the flip side, Louis, in the movie, has a chance to see and meet his mom that abandoned him as a baby. All his life he’s been plagued by questions about her – why did she abandon him, where did she go, who is she? What was wrong with him? And so, presented with an opportunity to meet her, he declines in the end, because he realizes who his real family is.

He learns that he is valuable and loved. A message that every kid, orphaned, adopted, or biological, should hear time and time again.

To be honest, I can never ever make it through this movie without needing a few minutes to gather myself together. Especially when I watched it once we had our foster daughter whom we are about to adopt.

As far as adoption movies go, Meet the Robinsons ranks as one of my all-time favorites. I highly encourage any adoptive family to watch this, as it can stir up some very fruitful conversations.

Priorities

priorities-1024x768We all have priorities in our life. Work, school, family, kids, weddings, hobbies. But the interesting thing about priorities is, for the most part, we have complete control over them.

If work is your priority, it’s the job that might keep you bound in obligation, but you don’t have to keep it as your highest priority.

Let me explain.

You’re obligated to go to work and make your money to pay your bills. But you’re not obligated to take your work home with you, mulling it over in your head all night, working on projects when your kids are vying for your attention.

Does this make any sense?

Here’s another example.

Sarabeth and I have become quite addicted to this game I downloaded called “Subway Surfers.” It’s a brilliant In-Subway-Surfers-added-a-new-city-Seoulgame where you’ve got to keep your little guy (a juvenile delinquent) from being captured by the security guard who is chasing you through a train yard. Sarabeth and I are constantly trying to top each other’s score by how many coins we collect. (I won’t make a big deal of it, but I was the record-holder of 463 coins until she beat me with 560. She held the record for two minutes before I came back and topped her score with 863 coins, which is the total to beat now.)

But sometimes our seven-month old daughter needs attention while I’m busy jumping trains and dodging roadblocks.

michael-scott-dancing-oAnd during those moments, I must decide what my priorities are. Sadly my priority is usually to finish the round with as many coins added to my score so that I can gloat to my wife. This usually includes laughing and pointing and dancing around her like a big baboon as she buries her head in her hands in shame. After all, the baby will still be there, right?

But in those moments, I have a choice. I have full control over my priorities. I have the authority to make a quick shift in my mind, swapping my gaming priority with baby-time. I may not want to necessarily, but that’s not the point, is it? The point is, my daughter needs me, whether I like it or not.

I may be at 792 coins, but if my daughter needs me, it’s my responsibility to forfeit the game and tend to her needs, or respond to my wife when she’s asking for my attention (even if she’s just trying to distract me from getting a higher score!).

We may not be able to control everything in our life, but we can always control, and change, our priorities. And that can make all the difference in the world to the people around us.

 

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.

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