A new summer horror movie is getting a deluge of negative publicity from adoptive parents and other members of the adoption world for portraying an older adopted child as a deranged would-be murderer of her adoptive parents and their (of course) biological children.
On the one hand the movie is unarguably offensive on every level. Many adoptive parents took issue with a line in the movie, appearing in the trailer, that “it must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own.” Nonsense, of course, as any thinking person–with or without adoption experience–would conclude. The promoters heard the complaints about the trailer and pulled it from promotional spots, though the line remains in the film.
On the other hand, this movie falls into a long line of films stereotyping adoptive or fostered children and/or their families (by biology and adoption). Is it any worse than Losing Isaiah, Mommy Dearest or The Omen? I doubt it, frankly.
I certainly won’t be seeing this movie, but then again, I won’t be seeing any horror movies. It’s not my genre. And I am annoyed at the irresponsible film makers who chose to repeat this tired stereotype. But ultimately the movie itself isn’t really the problem. It’s much better understood as a symptom. Adoptive families already have uphill battles to wage against popular culture and a largely misinformed populace that simply refuses to think of adoption as just another family formation in a field of virtually infinite variety.
I am often quite shocked, actually, at the lack of basic knowledge people have about adoption–and not just people uninvolved in it. Sometimes adoptive parents themselves spread all kinds of misinformation like “all the adoptable kids in the United States are drug-exposed” or “adoption is so expensive you have to take out a second mortgage to afford it.” In fact, there are many different ways to adopt. Some lead to children with medical and other complications. Some lead to healthy newborns. Some are very expensive. Some are all but free.
I will risk a sweeping generalization and say that adoptive parents do not find it difficult to love their children because they are not genetically related. If and when any parent finds a child difficult to love, such a struggle is going to be rooted in something other than biology. I know a number of biologically related people who find it difficult to love one another.
So yes, it’s a shame this film trades on such ugly, misleading stereotypes. Hopefully it will be a huge flop and teach its producers a lesson. But when it comes right down to it, I say the adoption world should take this film as an opportunity to raise the many ridiculous misperceptions our society has about adoption. Raise them. Discuss them. Correct them.