Adoption is an integral part of our society. In fact, according to a National Council for Adoption (NCFA) research report, around 95,000 children are adopted annually by American families. For those unable to have children, adoption gives the gift of parenthood. Over the years, we’ve witnessed adoption stories played out on stage and screen. Adoption movies offer a glimpse into family dynamics and, in most cases, a happy ending.
Watching movies about adoption can offer us new perspectives, introduce us to different family dynamics, and allow us to connect with relatable characters. These films can also be helpful for adopted children, as they can provide a way to discuss difficult topics or even be cathartic. Whether you’re in the mood for a tearjerker on Netflix or a family-friendly movie for young children, this list covers some of the best adoption-themed movies out there.
It’s important to remember that these movies are often dramatized for the screen, so they may not offer a perfect portrayal of adoption. It’s always a good idea to pre-screen any movie you plan on showing your kids to ensure it’s age-appropriate and won’t trigger any traumas. You might also want to talk to them in advance about any inaccuracies or difficult topics that may arise. So, without further ado, here are some of the best adoption-themed movies to watch:
1. Kung Fu Panda 2
Kids loved Kung Fu Panda, and in the sequel, we see a panda raised by a crane searching for his birth family. Surprisingly, Kung Fu Panda 2 excellently portrays the love that both birth and adoptive families have for their children, emphasizing that adoption multiplies love rather than dividing it.
In the sequel, the movie addresses adoption more directly. During an attempt to defend a city from invaders, Po has a flashback of a traumatic event from his early childhood. In a scene reminiscent of the first movie, Mr. Ping says, “I think it’s time I told you something I should have told you a long time ago.” He then stammers out, “You might have been kind of adopted.”
2. Instant Family
The comedy hit Instant Family stars Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne, and features a foster-adoption theme. Lifetime helps mothers and hopeful adoptive parents through private adoption, not typically associated with foster care or state interventions with family services. However, we can appreciate that adoption themes in movies stir up adoption-related discussions and dreams for viewers.
Breakthrough stars This is Us fan-favorite Chrissy Metz. Centered around the inspirational story of one mother’s heart of faith and unwavering love for a son who is struggling for his life, in more than one instance, this week’s new heartfelt drama also features a thread of adoption! Actress Metz plays an adoptive mother who fights on her son’s behalf from the very first time they meet.
4. The Tigger Movie
It’s common for individuals who were adopted to experience feelings of grief and identity loss as they come to terms with being different from their chosen family. Watching a beloved children’s character like Tigger go through these emotions can help make these overwhelming feelings a little more manageable.
In The Tigger Movie, adoption-related themes of loss and identity are prevalent. Tigger had always celebrated being the only Tigger, but now he realizes there’s a sadder side to it. Owl suggests that Tigger find his family by first finding his family tree. Tigger goes through a range of emotions, from fantasies to expectations to fears, as he sets out to pursue his birth family.
5. The Blind Side
The Blind Side is a movie based on a true story that portrays the journey of NFL player Michael Oher, who rises from poverty to being taken in by a wealthy family that helps him succeed.
This movie depicts adoption as a process that can provide a better life for someone in need and highlights the importance of resilience and teamwork in the adoption process. It shows that adoption is a complex and unique experience that can be a rewarding and gratifying experience for all those involved once they realize that things were meant to be.
Real-Life Adoption Stories
Every story of adoption is as unique as the individuals involved. How they came together, whether through foster care, private open adoption, or international adoption, there is a common theme of hope for the future out of a deep love for a child. It’s so important to share adoption stories; each story helps us learn from past adoptions and speak truthfully about adoption in modern times.
Trying to find a positive adoption movie can be difficult. Not every movie about adoption is accurate, and most dramatize the process.
Misconceptions, rare or worse-case examples, and outdated commentaries perpetuate the drama or harmful stereotypes about adoption, particularly when mainstream media features it. Real-life adoption testimonies help spread positive adoption awareness and a greater understanding of the needs and experiences of all parties touched by adoption.
We’d love to hear what adoption-themed movies have stood out to you! Comment below with your favorite adoption flicks. You can also find more adoption stories at AdoptionWebinar.com, featuring testimonies from adoptive parents and birth mothers who have walked through modern open adoptions!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on April 17, 2019, and has since been updated.
Heidi Keefer is a Content Creator for Lifetime Adoption and has over 15 years of experience in the field of adoption. An author of thousands of articles and social media posts over the years, Heidi enjoys finding new ways to educate and captivate Lifetime’s ever-growing list of subscribers.
Heidi has a keen eye for misplaced apostrophes, comma splices, and well-turned sentences, which she has put to good use as a contributor to Lifetime’s award-winning blogs. She has written and published hundreds of adoption articles which explore the various facets of domestic infant adoption today.