'Orphan' Angers Adoptive Parents

Filed under: Adoption, In The News, Media

New horror flick upsets adoptive parents. CREDIT: imbd.com

Warner Brothers new movie "Orphan" might be a horror flick, but it's scaring adoptive parents for an entirely different reason. The film, about a charming child who turns evil after being adopted by a loving family, has received criticism from the adoption community.

In fact, the outcry was so strong that Warner Brothers removed one particularly hurtful line from the movie's trailer: "It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own."

Katie Page Sander, Domestic Adoption Programs Coordinator for Hands Across the Water in Ann Arbor, MI, tells ParentDish that the damaging language isn't just limited to ticket buyers. "Orphan is kind of a loaded word," says Sander. It has "negative connotations."

Sander worries that the movie will enforce false stereotypes about adopted children, an issue she confronts every day.

"I think that there's already so many myths and misunderstandings about adoption -- especially adopting older children -- and this [movie] just perpetuates those myths," she said from her office. "I get calls every day from families with outrageous concerns about children and birth families. And those are just the families who are still interested in adoption despite the myths. How many good families never make a call because the myths scare them off?"

As Melissa Fay Greene points out at The Daily Beast, the movie -- just like those myths -- has no basis in reality.

"The trailer gives the impression that any couple with a yen for 'a replacement child' (as this psychologically unhealthy practice is known) can stroll into an orphanage, pick one out, and take her home," writes Greene. Greene, who is herself an adoptive parent, is incensed by this portrayal: "Even civic groups who want to 'Adopt a Highway' fill out a few forms first."

But as we learned from the movie "Jaws," it only takes a myth to scare people out of the water, and, in this case, away from adopting the world's most vulnerable kids.

"Esther's shadowy past includes Eastern Europe," writes Greene. "She appears normal and sweet, but quickly turns violent and cruel, especially toward her mother. These are clichés. This is the baggage with which we saddle abandoned, orphaned, or disabled children given a fresh start at family life."

Adoptive parents aren't just rallying against ignorant stereotypes, they're using it as a platform to educate others about older-child adoption. And in the meantime, parents of adoptive children will surely get questions from their kids about "Orphan."

"It just has to be part of an ongoing dialogue you have with your child about adoption," says Sander. "The movie shouldn't be a catalyst for a new discussion, rather just a continuation of a discussion about 'isms.' People have all sorts of prejudices and adoption is no exception. Things will come up and you will have to continually discuss adoption and related issues with your child."

Will you go see "Orphan?" Do you think that it's damaging to the adoption cause? O,r do you think it's just another horror flick, meant to be merely entertainment and nothing more?

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