Orphan movie hits theatres today from Warner Brothers. I’ve been asked to comment half a dozen times this week in print media and on TV regarding adoptive parents concerns. Basically, the movie shows a negative portrayal of older child adoption. The latest media is in today’s (Friday July 24th) Globe and Mail in the life section, so go buy the paper now or look up on line. A channel also interviewed me in my role as cofounder of the Canadian Coalition of Adoptive Families.
The Orphan movie protest began a couple of months ago over negative language used in the previews. In the original promotions a little girl named Esther, who is adopted, said something like this: “it must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own.”
Our Orphan Movie Position
Naturally the CCAF and the Adoption Council of Canada and every adoptive parent on the planet cringed on hearing this line.
The reporter from the A channel who interviewed me even confided “I’m not adopted and that shocked me.”
An on line protest and a Facebook petition ramped up quickly. Warner Brothers finally reacted to that. The protest was successful and the company agreed to change the previews, removing the offensive line and changing their marketing plan. The movie is still insensitive to adoptive families and adoptees.
While mostly happy with the changes to the movie, we’d be happier still if someone took it upon themselves to realistically portray the challenges of adoption and in particular older child adoption.
Adopting Older Children
Older children come with their own numerous and sometimes difficult life experiences. This means finding homes and parents that are equipped to manage their complex needs can be hard. In fact old children wait longest for forever families and many never find them.
We adopted our first girl eight years next month and I have been an advocate for adoption from the start. Adopted children are incredibly resilient, wonderful, sweet, and unique individuals, each and every one. None of the children I know are like Esther and none of them are well served by a portrayal of an adopted child as demonic.
Adoptive Families Don’t Need to Be Undermined
Adoptive families and their children work hard to overcome negative stereotypes in their schools, extended families, neighbourhoods and social situations. They don’t need media adding barriers.
Many agencies, advocates and individuals have worked tirelessly to promote and encourage older child adoption. In fact it’s high priority always but the statistics are grim. Teenage children who come into care need support and love in a forever family. Just as toddlers and infants do.
AGING Out of Care
CBC aired a story last year about kids who age out of care with no supports or family. Older children who are not adopted often have nobody to help them live their lives, guide them through high school and college or university. No support learning how to parent. Nothing is okay about that.
It is heartbreaking when children age out of foster care. Imagine having nobody to spend Christmas with and no soft place to fall.
If the Orphan movie dissuades even one couple from pursuing adoption or adopting an older child, then the loss to our community is tremendous. Time for more responsible movie-making choices.