Thursday, July 7, 2016

Finding Dory: Adoption Thoughts (and Spoilers)

I'd been planning to take the kids to seeing Finding Dory as soon as I found out that the movie would be made. I was terrifically excited about the movie's release this summer, and so were Patrick and Eli.

Then I read some reviews online that sprouted major concerns for me, specifically at a blog group that I frequently read (No Hands But Ours). Here's the link to the post that concerned me so much, if you're interested.

I began to wonder if I should wait until the movie came out On Demand or on Blu Ray, and started searching other sites for information. And then I relaxed.

Based on the first blogger's review, I anticipated Dory's movie being about adoption, abandonment, etc. I was concerned that Eli would not be ready for the questions that the movie would raise, and that I, too, might need to have him watch it at home, with time to pause if he had questions.  But upon further research, I found this spoiler-filled review that made me much more confident about taking the kids to see the movie on the big screen. You can read that post here.

After seeing the movie, I am very happy that we didn't wait to see it. We took all 3 kids, and had a marvelous time (Itty Bitty fell asleep halfway through). I did (repeatedly) tell the kids that the movie had some sad parts, and some parts that might make them worry, but that it had a happy ending. Throughout the movie, Sunny was just happy to see Dory appear on the screen, and her experience was punctuated with her repeated whispers of ("There's Dory! There's Dory!). I'm not sure she followed very much of the plot at all - which is pretty typical of her age. Eli, of course understood the movie well, and enjoyed it thoroughly : ).

My personal opinion is that, although adoption/foster care themes could potentially be confusingly applied to the movie, that is NOT what this movie is about. To me, the overarching themes were the power of love and the importance of not giving up something you truly believe in, even when things get tough. Dory was an adult fish, who loves her best friends, Nemo and Marlin...our family agreed that we didn't see this as a "foster care" or an adoption situation. Dory was not placed for adoption. She was not removed from her home by a court. She was not abandoned, abused, or neglected. She was lost accidentally, and as soon as she began to remember her parents, she works diligently to find them again. Her parents also did their very best to guide her home, as is evident in the touching last scene of the movie.  Dory represents a loving, courageous, and self-confident character. She teaches others about friendship, love, and positive, creative, thinking.

I will be happy to watch the movie again (and again) with my kids, without worry or the need to stop and answer questions.

I hope this answers some questions in case some of you all are looking for the same info that I was!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Adoption Talk Link-Up: Open-ness in Adoption

Open-ness in adoption is a tricky subject, and I see it on a continuum of "very open" to "definitely closed". Truthfully, I think most people involved in domestic infant adoption are in the "as open as possible" end of the spectrum, while people involved in foster care adoption are more frequently in the "very closed" end of the spectrum (with individual variations that depend on specific circumstances).

It's because of Eli that I see the desire of an adoptee to have relationships with birth family members to come to terms with and understand adoption. In Eli's case, I definitely wish we could have more openness. We are able to communicate with his former foster family occasionally through email, but that's it. He's not spoken a lot about it, but there have already been a few times where he's wondered aloud about his birthparents. It's times like that I wish I could sit down and email them, and ask certain questions for him.

It's because of Itty Bitty that I can definitely sympathize with birth family members who deeply love a child who was has been adopted and want to know how he/she is doing.  In Itty Bitty's case, we've been fairly open with certain people involved in his case, though we don't have any contact with his birth parents. We are hoping and praying that IF we do not get the opportunity to adopt him (we are still waiting, and will likely be waiting until late August, at least), that his relatives will be open and communicative with us, as we have with them.  We love him dearly, and if he ends up leaving our home, we will desperately want to know how he's doing as he grows up. And as he grows up, we will want him to know us and be able to ask questions about his babyhood.

It's because of some of the other children who have been in our home that I understand that birth family contact ISN'T always in the best interests of a child. This is why proponents of "open adoption in every case" get on my nerves. In foster care adoption, when a child has been hurt/neglected by a birth parent to the point that reunification isn't possible, contact is often detrimental. Sometimes, ongoing contact with a family member can work out well - but not always. In this case, adoptive parents need to carefully consider what is in the CHILD'S best interests. And that's going to vary wildly from case to case - and it may change as the years go by.

I have also learned that openness only works if all parties are willing to work together. I've actually really struggled with - and at one point, resented - the amount of openness in some of my foster kids' cases; I've had two cases where the level of openness is too high. I've been very angry with birthparents who insist on lying repeatedly to their children or who openly (and unapologetically) disrespect me. Having repeated contact with a birth parent who doesn't care about the needs of his/her own child is what I've had the hardest time with as a foster parent, and it really does make me want to shut down lines of communication.  It also helps me sympathize (somewhat) with families who seek a "closed" adoption with no contact between birth and adoptive families.