My son informed me that he wanted to see Jack Black. He was referring to “Kung Fu Panda 2” but since jack and black rhyme, he renamed the movie accordingly. I, too, was on board, having enjoyed “Kung Fu Panda 1”, plus the second installment had an adoption story line. I bought movie tickets a few weeks later.
Between work, life and play dates, we finally made it to the movies on Memorial Day. Front row on the right, next to the hand rail we sat cramped with popcorn, Red Vines, a too large slushie and his three-year old cousin. If you know me, you know that I despise previews and use that twenty minutes to slide into a theatre, buy refreshments and scout for seats. This time, that tactic worked against me. It was a holiday and my munchkins needed to make a peewee pit stop, resulting in our larger than life view of the Dragon Master and The Furious Five.
As soon as we got settled, Po’s separation from his mother flashed across the scene. I dang near jumped out of my seat. Arrgh! I had forgotten to have a pre-conversation with my son about Po’s adoption. The way I pointed, oohed and ahhed at Po’s special parent, you would have thought I had Tourette’s. Common sense dictated that a panda bear could not be the son of a goose. I didn’t have to wait for an animated feature to teach me that, but it never occurred to me to question Mr. Ping’s paternity. In fact, many adoption narratives for children use animals to illustrate that love sees neither color nor species. In my defense, I missed this teachable moment, because I forgot that my son was adopted.
Po eventually confronted his father about his adoption. Mr. Ping quickly went into denial mode but realized that Po needed to know the truth of how their family came to be. I sympathized with Po’s confusion of who he was and where he belonged. Though my son knows that he’s adopted, I wondered if I was looking into our future. Would the day come when he gazes upon his countenance and asks, who am I? Or worse, ask me that question. I guess I could borrow a scene from “Roots”: grab him by the hand, take him into the night and point to the heavens – “Behold, the only thing greater than yourself!” Or remind him that he’s my son and tell him how loved and great he is. But would that be enough?
My heart ached in solidarity with Mr. Ping’s love and devotion to the family he did not procreate. I watched as he explained the circumstances to Po, knowing that there were not enough words to express the bond that was forged and the promise that was made when the decision to adopt was on the table. Again, I pointed to the big screen and whispered, see how much his father loves him? That’s how much I love you.
Whether it’s by chance, as was the case with the panda bear and the goose, or through deliberate action, the “adoption talk” is not an easy one. Unlike Po, who’s identity crisis was triggered by the evil Lord Shen, my son will always know that, just as his eyes are brown, he was adopted. Will this knowledge avert identity confusion through the tween and teen years? I sure hope so but if it doesn’t, the lines of communication will be open.