Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tangled Up Adoption Talk

Tangled is out in  DVD now, which has thrilled the girls.  We loved it in the theater and I'm sure we'll watch it a million times on DVD.  But as this mom points out in a funny post, there are aspects of the movie that make a tangled mess of adoption talk:
In November, our family went to the theater to see Tangled. My parents were in town for Thanksgiving, so it was the six of us. Molley fell. in. love. She walked out of the theater in awe and full of amazement. It wasn’t her first theater experience, but to her, Tangled was magic. She loved everything – and I mean everything – about it. At the time, she was 27 months old.

She couldn’t stop talking about Tangled. On the way home, she was going on and on and on and then she said it: “Tangled has two mommies. One of her mommies is a mean mommy. The other is a nice mommy. I don’t like her mean mommy. Why is she mean, Mommy?”

“Well,” I said, “One of her mommies isn’t actually her real mommy. That mommy took her away from her real mommy…”

Oh hell. I stopped mid-sentence. If adoption is part of your life, you understand why this wasn’t going well. I looked at my mom, who was sitting in the back of our SUV with me. She looked at me. The kids were in their car seats, in the middle row. They couldn’t see our faces. I changed the subject.
There it is, the second mommy's dilemma.  How do we distinguish ourselves from the wicked witch who stole Rapunzel from her parents?  How do we explain it to a young child?  I've had to do it with my kids with other movies, and blogged about it here:
Maya and Zoe watched Ice Age 3 (which their oldest cousin Aaron bought them for Christmas) with their youngest cousin William while we were in Florida. They'd seen it before, and didn't have much of a reaction to it then. But one story line is that Sid the Sloth finds 3 dinosaur eggs, cares for them, hatches them, and cares for the babies. Then huge mama dinosaur comes and gets them back. Hilarity ensues.

Maya came to talk to me after the movie, and she said that when Sid took the eggs it was "like adoption, but it was also like stealing." Hmmm. So I asked how it was like adoption -- she answered it was like adoption because Sid was taking care of the babies but he didn't grow them in his tummy (discussion ensues about why men can't grow babies in their tummies).

So how was it like stealing, I asked. Because Sid took the eggs when the mama still wanted them, Maya finally explained, after some exploration that took us miles off course and then back again. I said I thought she was pretty smart to figure that out. Adoption happens when the mama can't take care of the baby and so AGREES that the other family should adopt the baby; but if the mama can take care of the baby, like the dinosaur mama in the movie, and hasn't agreed, then it is like stealing.

Very interesting to be talking to your six-year-old about human trafficking for purposes of adoption, without ever using those terms. . . .
So, have you talked with your kids about how adoption is and isn't like stealing? About trafficking for the purposes of adoption?


Melissa said...

Whew Tangled - we now also own it and after we saw it in the theatre in November DD wanted to watch it after we got home. She LOVES Flynn. 2 days later the nightmare started. For months afterward she wanted to know how we knew that there weren't "bad people" in our house and every night we had to have a discussion about our house alarm system, why we keep doors locked, how our windows are locked and it is impossible for bad guys to have a key to them. Why the king and queen didn't lock their doors.

Whenever Mother Knows Best comes on DD yells - You aren't a real mother through the whole thing. BUT she isn't a real mother because she is mean and isn't trying to raise her daughter to make good choices. So for DD currently it isn't so much her relating to the adoption story but more making sure WE are making sure she is safe.

Anonymous said...

we finally saw dispicable me. had to have a conversation about returning kids who are adopted. as in, 'does this happen?" so we had this conversation about returning (or as some perfer rehoming or disrupting) adoption.

good times ;( but necessary==

Anonymous said...

p.s. to clarify: good times i was being sarcastic and necessary-- not the returning kids, but a necessary conversation.

Reena said...

We haven't really gotten to this point yet-- but I am all ears!

Mahmee said...

'Miss Spider's Sunny Patch' and 'Dinosaur Train' (TV shows) have sparked adoption discussions in our household. At 5, R is still afraid of the drama of Disney (and the like) movies. She can't handle the intense stuff. In the same manner, she still skirts the adoption issues and doesn't want to discuss the intense stuff. Although I know she has questions and I try to push it a little. She'll ask when she's ready (she says...hoping, hoping, hoping). In the meantime, she will continue to have the occasional sadness crying jag out of the blue. She says she doesn't know why she's sad...but, I think I do. I'm thinking this will always be hard.

P.S. Maya blows me away with her insight about that issue at such a young age. Wow.

Anne said...

It does amaze me how adoption issues/themes come up when you think you're just going to a simple kids movie. We haven't seen Tangled, and this is slightly off topic, but we did just see HOP. I won't be giving away any plot essentials by sharing with you that the main character, who is identified as a "slacker", has an adopted sister who appears to be Chinese. The sister comments "I think the reason our parents adopted me is because you were such a disappointment". I'm not doing the humor of the line justice by stating it out of context, and it does kind of crack me up that Chinese adoption has become such a part of the cultural consciousness that it's played for laughs in movies. But I suspect others might not find it as amusing.

Michelle said...

Beware...Pete's Dragon (movie/1977) prompted many questions from my 6 year-old daughter about Pete's abusive adoptive parents and how/why they "bought" Pete. We've had several good quality adoption related discussions since then. I usually screen movies better before I allow her to watch them. ;(