Is that what happened to me?

I enjoyed “Finding Dory” very much.  It was funny and sweet.  I didn’t find it as good as “Finding Nemo”possibly because it wasn’t the movie I expected it to be.  I expected it to follow the premise that Dory had been living happily with her family when she encountered Marlin.  She decided to help and just kept swimming away from her own parents who were left wondering what happened to her.  In my head, the story was similar to the original, with Dory’s parents wandering the ocean to find her.  The reality was so much more traumatic. Being Pixar, of course it has a happy ending and I left the theater satisfied.  However, not everyone did.

A month or so after seeing the movie I was at church camp talking to one of the other volunteers.  The camp was showing “Inside Out” for the campers and our talk turned to Pixar films and how we ranked them.  I expressed my opinion that I enjoyed “Finding Dory” reasonably well.  She responded with a heavy sigh and the opinion, “That movie should have come with a warning label.”  I misunderstood entirely and made a comment about the emotional moments in the movie.  She informed me that she had seen the movie with her adopted daughter.  After the movie was over and everyone was living happily ever after, her beautiful and beloved child asked “Is that what happened to me?”  She needed to know if there was a family out there waiting for her.  She needed to know if, like Dory, her lack of biological family was her fault.  She needed to know if she had done something wrong.  My heart broke.

Another volunteer came up while we were having this conversation.  She was a social worker.  She talked about the unrealistic expectations that foster children had after seeing the movie.  Families of origin and adopted families coming together and living out a blended happily ever after.  She was having to deal with the fallout of this idea taking root in the hearts and minds of the kids she supervises.  She got the unenviable job of explaining that not everyone has a family that is looking for them.  I couldn’t look at the movie in the same way.

When I saw “Finding Dory” I saw none of these issues.  They were not part of the life that I have lived.  For others, the story brought up difficult and uncomfortable realities that I have been sheltered from.  It has made me think about the stories I tell.  What do I take for granted that others don’t understand?  What do I say that I believe is harmless that causes others pain?  Is there any way to avoid doing this kind of damage?  I live in the bubble of my own experiences and while I try to be mindful of those who have different experiences, I don’t know if there is any real way to reliably do so.  All I can do is be careful and mindful that there are those whose live have been different.  I can move through the world with an understanding that my story is not the only story.  I can be aware that there is more than one kind of happy ending.  I can share the stories of love and diversity that break the mold of what we expect and honor them for the joy that they bring.

What did you think of “Finding Dory”?  Leave you rating here:


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