Jun 3, 201112:41 PMChina Mom
Mr. Ping, I feel your pain
Oh, Kung Fun Panda 2 – we had such hope for you. The first movie was so funny, my daughter was really looking forward to this second one – which is saying something for a little girl who will only watch movies about fairies, princesses and mermaids.
Instead of a fun, funny movie full of slapstick humor, silly jokes and awesome kung fu, we got a lot of action, adventure and explosions (to be expected in a summer movie, I guess). Oh, and – bonus! – a heavy adoption theme that hit way too close to home. Good times at the multiplex.
The adoption element wasn’t a surprise. I’d read the reviews, so I was prepared. And so was Piper. We had a little chat before the movie, so she knew Po the panda would learn about his adoption and struggle with his past. She was okay with it and – as usual – had no interest in discussing “her story” further.
Which brings me to the point of my post – and in a way, my point about Kung Fu Panda 2, I guess. Piper isn’t in denial about her adoption. She doesn’t have abandonment issues. She has never had any interest in discussing her birthparents. I know she will someday and when that day comes, we’ll talk about it more in depth. Until then, we’re as open and honest with her as we can be.
But it isn’t easy.
Making my mouth form those words is one of the most difficult and painful things I’ve ever done in my life. Looking at my gorgeous daughter and saying, “…and then, someone – I’m guessing your birthmother – walked away” hurts my heart.
And that’s why I empathize with Mr. Ping - Po's dad. He never said those words to his son. He couldn’t find the strength or courage we adoptive parents must find. We have to dig down deep and “man up” so our children can find the strength they need to face their reality.
As a result, when Po realizes he's adopted, his whole world is shaken. Everything he thought he knew about his life comes crumbling down. So he sets out to rebuild it himself.
That's why it's vital that we talk openly and honestly with our children about their adoption and how they came to be in our families - no matter how hard it is for us. We're the grown-ups after all.
But I guess if Mr. Ping had talked to his son Po, there wouldn’t have been a Kung Fu Panda 2 . Or it would have been a different movie.
Which might not have been a bad thing either.
If you're an adoptive parent, I certainly don't want to discourage you from seeing the movie. I don't want to encourage you either. It all depends on your child and how they feel about adoption and abandonment.
There's a very emotional scene where Po's birth mother leaves him and for my daughter that was a little too real - even if it was a cartoon. Fortunately, the movie's key message follows quickly on that scene's heels: "The beginning of your story may not be happy, but the end does not have to be unhappy. The only thing that matters is who you choose to be now."
A pretty heavy theme and a pretty grown-up message for a summer kids movie. But in the end, the movie handles it with grace. Just like our kids.