“It can be difficult to enter into important conversations with your kids. Sometimes, it’s not easy to figure out how to bring up sensitive topics. Movies can serve as an easily-accessible bridge into hard-to-access territory,” states Addison Cooper, MSW, LCSW and popular reviewer at Adoption at the Movies. It’s a fun site to peruse, and remarkable just how many movies can be conversation-starters when talking about adoption.
It was a decade ago when Addison was introduced to the wonderful world of adoption and fostering through his employment in Southern California. He fell in love with the children and their families he worked with and he began to see his job as much more than just a paycheck. Addison caught the foster/adoption-bug and it became a part of who he is. In Addison’s words, “It began to feel like a ministry or calling.”
With his supportive psychologist wife, he began to branch out beyond his work at Koinonia Family Services and started using his free time to share important insight. What began as a plan to write a book that would fill the obvious gap of helping adoptive families make well-informed, positive choices at the movies morphed into a website that is now filled with over 300 movie reviews. (Don’t worry, though—the book is still in the works!) For Addison, combining two loves—Adoption and Movie Watching—is not only helping the adoption community, but is also the perfect way to spend his energy.
If you’re an entertainment-loving foster or adoptive family, Adoption at the Movies should be on your computer bookmarks. Addison’s reviews are listed in alphabetical order on his home page and each review includes an overview of the film, the adoption/foster care connection, strong points and weak points in the show, challenges, recommendations, and specific questions for discussion after viewing the movie with your kids. Some movie reviews also include “fun bonus” trivia. Addison shows us how to make movie watching a proactive family activity rather than a passive waste of time.
Although each movie is unique in its storyline, and many movies aren’t directly connected to adoption or foster care, Addison points out that if you watch the film with the intent of opening discussion with your children, it’s quite likely you’ll find themes of identity development, secrecy, loss, sibling relationships and more. Each of these themes allow an entrance into discussion about feelings. Addison suggests discussing with your child the specific feelings or actions of a character: “How would you have felt if you’d have been that character?”
Child favorite Mr. Rogers had lots of quotable phrases. His statement, “Everything mentionable is manageable” is as true in adoption as in any situation. Addison tells us, “Movies are a tool to help make some important adoption-related topics more mentionable, and talking openly and productively about our feelings and thoughts is one of the best ways to manage them!”
Don’t see your favorite movie already reviewed on Adoption at the Movies? Contact Addison on his Facebook Page with your request! He has yet to capture his personal favorite (and mine!) on his website: The Princess Bride. So you can be sure I’ll be back to find that review and more!