Monday, May 16, 2011

Kung Fu Panda versus Kung Fu Panda 2

It's been interesting watching adoptive parents react to the fact that Kung Fu Panda 2 has "adoption themes." The first movie also had adoption themes -- how else to explain that the panda's dad is a goose?!  Adoptive parents generally found it charming, a trans-species adoption full of love but never mentioned as adoption!

But this sequel?  Are adoptive parents equally excited by the "adoption themes?"  Not so much (be sure to read the comments). Even Angelina Jolie was nervous about her adopted kids seeing the movie!

So what's the difference?  I can't help but notice WHAT the adoption theme is in Kung Fu Panda 2 -- it's about birth family, search and reunion. What?!  Po is one of those "angry adoptees" who wants to learn about his roots?! Quelle horreur!! 

This isn't like Orphan or Despicable Me, where the adoption themes are negative or inaccurate.  We're talking about a natural and normal part of an adoptee's journey.  As Dr.Brodzinsky says in
Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self: 
We are often asked, "What percent of adoptees search for their birth parents?" And our answer surprises people: "One hundred percent." In our experience, all adoptees engage in a search process. It may not be a literal search, but it is a meaningful search nonetheless. It begins when the child first asks, "Why did it

happen?" "Who are they?" "Where are they now?" These questions may be asked out loud, or they may constitute a more private form of searching -- questions that are examined only in the solitute of self-reflection. This universal search begins during the early school years, prompted by the child's growing awareness of adoption issues.

"This universal search. . . ." Completely natural.  Po has to be situated among the 100% of adoptees who search in some way. Why do some adoptive parents have a hard time dealing with this?

Of course, the question is still out whether Kung Fu Panda 2 will do a good job of handling these issues.  But the fact that they are handling the issues shouldn't generate this reaction from adoptive parents. Sure, it's good to be prepared for adoption themes before seeing a movie with your kids, but even as RQ advises, you need to check your own issues about adoption at the theater door.


SustainableFamilies said...

Judging by the fact that Angelina Jolie took her kids to it and thought it handled the issue well, I am guessing we'll get the typical adoptive parent centric "Oh I see my biological parents exist and they are nice people, but now I realize EVEN MORE that adoptive parents are the only only only parents that I really NEED!" I hope I'm wrong--- hope hope hope.

Hollywood tends to view birthparents as a fascinating obstacle to bonding with "the real parents". You need to meet them in order to push them away properly (and nicely) possibly with occasional letters or very rare contact to "keep in touch".

Blech. Is it so terrifying to hollywood that children could love two sets of parents equally and want relationships with both?

Muzik said...

Great post! I am an adoptee and I am eager to watch this movie even though it is a bit childish of me. LOL. I am curious to see the adoption/adoptee themes. You are right, I hope that the families that have adopted check their family issues at the theater door because only God knows what can happen on the long ride home if you know what I mean.