Adoption by Robin Gorman Newman
I saw Kung Fu Panda 2 with my son this week, and boy, did it catch me off guard.
We had come from our local pool, and I was a bit tired ‘n sweaty. The movie theatre posted a large sign stating that due to Con Ed cutbacks, the air conditioning in the theatre was operating at 70 percent capacity. Once you enter, you can’t ask for a refund.
We weren’t able to turn around, so we hoped for the best. While not as refreshing as I would have liked, it was tolerable, and the theatre was packed.
I found myself feeling fidgety at the start of the film, perhaps due to the seemingly endless frustrating trailers that preceeded. But, as the movie progressed, more ‘n more I was charmed by the camaraderie of the characters, and the scenery and special effects were immensely well done. I’ve never been a huge Jack Black fan (the voice of Po, the Panda), but in this film (versus the original), I took a liking to him. While I expected some laughs and fast action fighting sequences, what I didn’t anticipate was the sentiment.
Kung Fu Panda 2 packs an emotional punch. If you’re an adoptive parent, I highly recommend you see it with your chlid. My son is 8, and we adopted him domestically from birth. He knows he is adopted. We’ve always been totally open about it. We’ve read books on the subject, showed him photos of his birthmom, his birth hospital, town of birth, etc. But, I can’t recall offhand seeing a movie that addressed the subject, and with such heart and humor.
I got totally choked up and teary-eyed, and had to make a pitstop in the bathroom afterwards to wipe my smudged and running eyeliner. In the film, Po wants his adoptive father, a goose, to explain where he came from, and ultimately, in his quest to save China with his kung fu friends, Po uncovers how he was separated from his parents and discovers what is important in life. He becomes all the more grateful for his friends and adoptive dad.
It was such a beautiful, affecting story….I couldn’t help but ask Seth afterwards if he liked it. He did. Then, I asked if he could relate since Po was adopted like him. He replied, “He wasn’t adopted exactly like me.” That is for sure. Seth isn’t from China, nor were his birth parents engaged in a battle with an evil peacock (or at least not to my knowledge).
But, what struck me the most from Seth’s reaction was that he didn’t have an emotional reaction. To him being adopted is his story, but it’s not his life. It’s a no brainer to him. It’s not something he thinks much about. He’d sooner talk about the latest American Idol or Nickelodeon show we watched. Perhaps one day, he may exhibit greater curiousity, as Po did. And, if so, we’re prepared with even more photos and video, but until then, seeing a movie like KUNG FU PANDA 2 is just that. An entertainment vehicle and story that made him laugh.
Ironically, we saw the film with a friend of Seth’s whose parents just adopted an 18 month old girl from Russia. The mom, a good friend of mine, met us after the movie, and we had a chance to meet her new daugher. I suggested that one day, when she’s able, she ought to see the film, and perhaps even buy the video to share with her daughter as she gets older. I know I’ll be ordering a DVD, and I look forward to watching it again with Seth .