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A Wayfarer is a person who is traveling, a particular place, a circumstance, a stage of life, etc. Let's walk the road of adoption together. The journey is so much better with company!
Much of this information is useful for any adoption, but this blog is designed to be a
I hope this blog will be helpful to you in your adoption whether you are considering, waiting or home. I started this blog when we were adopting and found there was next to nothing on the web in any orderly manner. I set about to collect information for myself and then for others. Now, there are more sites for resources, but still not much that brings it all together. I hope this blog will serve as a sort of clearing house for Ethiopian Adoption Information. Please feel free to contribute your knowledge through commenting.
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Welcome to the journey!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2: movie review

One of the movie options on our flight to and from Ethiopia was Kung Fu Panda (1).  The sequel is here.  Not that we really wanted more of Po, as much as we like him, 4-6 times through the first time was a bit more than we really wanted.  But, we like Po, and we have had a nearly 3 year separation, so we went to see his second movie.  Well, there has been lots of talk about this movie, Kung Fu Panda 2.  Yes, it is a movie that deals with the subject of adoption.  Of course everyone has their own opinion of it.  I will share mine here.   Feel free to share you opinion in the comments.  The more ideas on it the better others can make their own choices.

First a synopsis of the adoption related story line:
Po is struggling to find inner peace as his master suggests he should do before he can move forward with Kung Fu.  He has a strange memory while fighting some evil wolfs and sees a symbol on the arm band of one.  He goes in to a sort of trance and has to be rescued.  This bothers him a great deal.  He visits his father and asks him about his history.  Dad tells him that he "might be adopted".  And tells about how he appeared at his door and how he choose to raise him as his own son.  Po then is flustered and feels the empty hole of his past even more acutely.  He struggles with inward anger and frustration and wonders who he is really.
Off he goes to fight the big bad evil peacock.  Again he goes into a trance with memories coming at him due to the symbol on the peacocks feathers.  He nearly looses his life and certainly gets them all trapped.  Not good.  He nearly dies.  He is found and nursed back to health by a goat who says he is the one to kill the evil peacock.  He finds himself in an abandoned village with the goat and here his memories come to him and he remembers how he was orphaned and how he came to be in a basket at the door of his Dad.  He is sad and angry.  But, he knows the truth.
I am leaving out all the Kung Fu parts because they do not pertain to the adoption story.  However, I would use caution with kids under the age of 7 seeing this movie, as it is quite violent.
Po is told twice in this movie that his beginning was hard and unhappy, but he has the choice to determine how the rest of the story goes, and how it ends.  He finds his inner peace when he comes to terms with what is happened to make him an orphan and decided who he decided is.  Evil peacock rejects the notion that he can overcome his past bad choices and become a hero and better person.  He tries to convince Po that he too should be bitter and angry, full of hate because of his past.  But Po has found his inner peace and knows the choice he wants to make.  Po defeats the evil peacock who killed his first family.  He then comes to the conclusion that while he is the Dragon Warrior and he is a fearsome Kung Fu warrior, he is first and foremost his father's son.  That is his adoptive duck Dad.  He and Dad the duck have a sweet reunion.
The movie ends with a snapshot of a panda village and a Panda wise man saying "my son lives".  Who knows we may be getting Kung Fu Panda 3.

Ok, now my thoughts on this:
I think that this movie is going to be a great bridge to talking about the questions of adoption for OLDER kids.  I think it will bring fear to younger kids.  Only you can gauge if your child is ready for this.  If you have talked openly about this and your kids know their story, their place with you, that is ok to have questions, feelings and fears then all the better.  I think it would be a good idea to talk about some points in general before the movie and some points in specific after, allowing your child to express feelings, similarities and ask his or her own questions.  Of course, this may be best done the day after the movie or later in the day. Right after they are going to have too many feelings to be able to sit and discuss it.  I think it would be good to have their life book ready to look at together and leave it with them.  Be sure you have an extra copy before you do this, just in case. :)

Points from the movie that struck me:
  • OF COURSE he is adopted, I mean really, a duck and a panda. But, some families honestly do this to their kids. 
  • It is great that he has these conflicting emotions about being adopted and wondering where he came from, what is my story and who am I.  This is totally normal for any adopted kid.  I am glad that they are being realistic here. 
  • Most kids who are adopted come from hard places, with a difficult story.  Abandoned, orphaned, relinquished.  None of that is easy and there are so many variable in each of those.  This story gives the story violence and fear.  It is real and vivid and would be frightening for a younger child.  My boys are 5 and 6 and I would have preferred they did not see this level of violence, but it turned out ok.  I have been up every night for a week with one of them and working through fear related behavior from the other one during the day.  I am thinking this is the violence because they did this with Superman cartoon and other sorts of things like that, which we do not see much of.  
  • I think it is important to talk with your child about the differences between Po's story and theirs as well as the similarities.  Kids may fear there was violence in their past too.  Actually, the real fear here is that there is someone out there to blame for their time as an orphan and they may feel the desire for revenge.  Po does NOT kill Peacock out of revenge but a quest to protect what is true and right and good.  The movie is not super clear on that unless you have some understanding of Kung Fu, which children usually do not.  They think it is all fighting. 
  • Most kids are not going to find out more details than you already have to give them.  A quest for your family is not going to come up with much more than you already know.  At least for Ethiopian adoptions.  No wise goat is going to take you to your birth village and tell you your story.  Therapy could be helpful for regaining memories for kids adopted at an older age.  For most kids more of their story is not going to come.  That is a difference between real kids and Po. 
  • Everyone needs a story.  It is good to try to fill in what you know, even if you construct a this could be, or this could be scenario options/ideas for your child.  This will help give the "identity" they need until they can construct their own.  
  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE the concept they use here that your begining may have been hard but you can choose how it ends up and how you continue your story.  That is powerful. 
  • I think that another idea here is "killing the inner dragons".  That is to say Po had to kill the ideas that haunted him and his own negative feelings and thoughts in order to find inner peace.  He had to accept the hard parts of his story and decide to live in a positive way and embrace the good parts of his story.  It was only then that he was able to feel at peace, know who he is, his purpose and his story.  He gets to write the rest of his story himself and decide if it is a good one or a bad one.  Evil Peacock decided to make a bad story and his end was pretty bad.  Po decides to live a good story and he finds inner peace.  Don't we all have to do that?
  • I am super happy that Po had a loving adoptive father, who was supportive and proud of him.  I love that he went home knowing that was where he belonged and who he was.  I love that he was wanted and loved and cared for with joy.  I know that not all adoptive families are this way and that is a difference for some adult adoptees who watch this movie.
  • I think there could be a lot of conflicting feelings that come with the end scene of Po's birth father saying his son is alive.  There may be some idealized hope that a child could reunite with his or her birth family.  Some fear that they were wrongly removed (ok this is true sometimes).  There could be fodder here for fantasies of what their birth family was like and meeting them again.  Questions of is my story ture?  If Po believed his birth family was dead and maybe they are actually alive...... are my birth family still out there waiting for me or looking for me too?  This can be really conflicting and I wish they had left this part out.  In most cases the truth is the hard parts of death, poverty, neglect, abuse, etc.  Four younger children this scene could possibly be construed as Panda Heaven, but only for younger kids. Younger than 5. 
So, there you have it.  Now you can decide if you want to take your kids to see Kung Fu Panda 2 or wait.  I would say whatever you decide, be prepared to initiate talking about it soon afterwards, no matter the age of your child.

Trailers and official web pages:

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