Parenting

Does 'Finding Dory' Hit Too Close to Home for Adopted Kids?

A friend recently brought to my attention some concerns about Finding Dory within the adoption community. As an adopted child myself, I’d like to bring to light some of these surfacing fears.

There are films that tug at my inner adopted child’s heart, like Jungle Book and Meet The Robinsons. These films take adoption head on. In Finding Dory, I didn’t even get the adoption connection until it was brought to my attention.

The hallmark of a good film that will stand the test of time isn’t just entertainment, it’s one that touches you. One that speaks to your heart. I had to work hard not to be heard crying in the theater watching UP, for goodness’ sake! That said, let’s look at the adoption connection in Finding Dory.

From Adoption at the Movies

Dory lost her family after being swept away by an undertow. She has a hard time remembering them, and feels somewhat guilty for having lost them…She expresses that she greatly misses them, and decides that she must find them. Viewers who have been adopted or who have experienced foster care may resonate with many of Dory’s feelings: longing for birth parents, unwarranted guilt about the circumstances that led to their separation from birth parents, a sense of a loss of control, a sense of confusion and chaos, and dreaming of a happy reunion. When Dory does find her parents, she lets them know that Marlin and Nemo have become her family as well, and together they craft a new understanding of family which includes everyone that has come to love and care for Dory.” [Emphasis Mine]

These are valid points from a caring, protective, parental standpoint. I have a different perspective, both as an adopted child and a mother.

One fear adoptive parents may have is that their children will one day reject them. That they will go (like Dory) to find their birth family. Most adopted children that I know wait, out of respect and love for their adopted parents, to find their birth parents. It’s more common to hear of those who find out late, as a surprise, than those who go out looking for answers.

If young children need that hope of a happily-ever-after for a time, let them have it. Time and maturity, salted with dashes of truth when they need it, will dissolve childhood fantasies at the proper time.

It’s important for adoptive parents to understand that you really can’t make that longing for answers—the  missing piece of who they are—go away in your child. It’s not yours to fill. All you can do is give them the love, guidance and the solid foundation they need, so that when they are adults, they will come to healthy conclusions on their own.

Finding Dory has too much to offer to miss for fear a child might read something into it that was never meant to be there.

If they do see themselves in Dory, then those feelings have a new and gentle way to come to the surface so your child can talk to you about them. That’s a good thing.