The movie Orphan opens today. On one hand, it is just a movie, perhaps no worse than many of the thousands ginned up each year to sell theater seats and DVDS. At the same time, it is important to recognize how powerful film can be in stirring emotions and shaping the way we interpret the world. Just think of how the movie Jaws continues to inform (in many regards falsely) the way we see sharks.
That’s why it’s important that the impressions created by the movie Orphan not be allowed to seep into the American bloodstream unquestioned. Its emotional experience seems to convey that orphans are damaged goods and that adoption could destroy your life. With a gracious and respectful tone, we can communicate a deeper truth.
We can speak frankly about the fact that most orphans have been through a lot. Their journey as an orphan began with tragedy, and often got worse from there. We should acknowledge that opening our lives to orphans can involve sacrifice, and sometimes great difficulty. But, we can also speak frankly about the blessings found when we choose to enter this place—the intersection of God’s love and the world’s pain. Such choices carry more purpose, joy and beauty than all of the golf courses and day spas in the world.
Conveying that corrective message has been the driving purpose of the Orphans Deserve Better campaign. Not to “bash” Hollywood, but to speak up on behalf of children who have no voice. To harness to the opportunity presented by a movie like Orphan to draw attention to the real-world horror of millions of children growing up without a family—and the joy found when we choose to respond.
It’s been thrilling to watch how the combined voices of the members of the Christian Alliance for Orphans has caused this message to echo across the country and beyond in huge numbers of online articles and newspaper pieces, from the New York Time Magazine Online to Town Hall, blog posts, radio interviews and television coverage. A big “well done” to each of the groups and individuals that have seized this opportunity to “defend the cause of the fatherless.”