CALLING MOVIE `INSENSITIVE,’ INSTITUTE ASKS DISNEY TO DISCUSS ADOPTION
NEW YORK, April 9, 2007 – The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute today called for an urgent meeting with Walt Disney Pictures to discuss the potentially negative impact on children and families of its new movie, “Meet the Robinsons,” which is generating strong criticism in the adoption community because of its insensitive portrayal of adoption and, in particular, of an orphaned child.
“I’m sure the filmmakers were well-intentioned, but their apparent lack of understanding about the realities of orphanage life (and of the effects of rejection on children) led to a storyline that is upsetting many adopted boys and girls, particularly ones who spent time in orphanages themselves,” said Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Adoption Institute. “Many parents, practitioners and mental-health professionals also are worried about the impact the movie could have on children who still need loving, permanent homes and on the public’s general perceptions of adoption.”
Adding that “it’s hard to achieve good outcomes with insufficient knowledge,” Pertman asked for a meeting with Disney executives to explain the movie’s problems, discuss what can be done to mitigate them and, most important, to provide information intended to improve future films involving issues relating to orphans, adoption and foster care. Experts in the field, as well as representatives of affected families, will be invited to the meeting, which Pertman deemed “very important … because this is by no means the only movie, or the only studio, that has generated this kind of controversy and concern.”
The Adoption Institute has received numerous complaints about “Meet the Robinsons” since it opened, including from practitioners (some of whom have sent warnings to parents not to take their children to the movie); from adoptive parents (many of whom have reported their children became distressed, especially because the central character was rejected by more than 100 potential adoptive parents), and from birth families (particularly because the child ultimately chooses to reject his birth mother).
“I’m sure lots of people will defend this movie as simply entertaining and point out that it has a happy ending,” Pertman added. “But when anything is this disconcerting for so many kids and parents – whether the reason is its treatment of race, gender, religion, adoption or any other aspect of identity – then we need to stop and think about whether there’s a harmful downside, even if it’s inadvertent.”
The Adoption Institute is the pre-eminent research, policy and education organization in its field; it is nonprofit, nonpartisan and independent of any interest group. Its unique projects and programs include the only Media Education Initiative of its kind, designed to improve the understanding and treatment of adoption and foster care by professionals in the news and entertainment industries.
To learn more about the controversy over “Meet the Robinsons” and the Institute’s work – or to arrange an interview – please contact Pertman at 617-332-8944 (office), 617-763-0134 (cell) or [email protected] The Institute’s award-winning website is www.adoptioninstitute.org.