Adoptees and Foster Kids Will Likely Identify with Elf at Christmas

Elf Finally Tries to Find Closure for the Adoption Mystery in His Life

It’s probably the 5th time I’ve seen the movie called “Elf,” but this time, I felt incredibly uncomfortable.

Buddy (Will Ferrell) was dropped off at the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa’s elves. Bob Newhart plays the kindly Elf father who parents him.

Elf was increasingly frustrated at the North Pole. He just didn’t fit in and felt like a square peg in a round hole. Trying, trying to fit in, but he just couldn’t.  He was physically huge, not tiny like the other elves. He was loud, awkward, clumsy and couldn’t make toys turn out right.

Convinced that if he found his bio father, he would finally feel a sense of belonging, he shoved off for the big apple (NY). He finds a high executive, over-achieving, workaholic father.

And, the feelings of not belonging intensify.

Let me stop here…I believe Buddy’s feelings of not belonging are much like current-day adopted and foster kids. It’s the painful reality of being adopted and often we entertain the idea that if we indeed reunite with bio family, the pain and repercussions of adoption will certainly disappear.

They didn’t for Buddy and they may not for adopted and foster kids today either.

I can’t tell you how many adoptees in the support groups I have led in the past, when anticipating a reunion secretly believed they wouldn’t feel adopted after reunion. When they return and asked by the group if they still feel adopted, their faces turn red, with an affirmative nod.

Adoptive and foster parents, please know this reality for your child and that  your child will likely sense this “not belonging” during extended family Christmas and Hannakuh events.

What Can Parents Do?

  1. Normalize feelings of “not belonging” for them.

If your child is acting out, perhaps say, “Are you feeling like you don’t belong? Many kids who’ve lost their first families feel just like you. You’re not alone.”

2. Watch the Elf movie together and talk about the issues.

You and your child may not be comfortable watching the movie, as I wasn’t, but at least it can be a great ice-breaker for good conversation.


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