The remake of the classical musical, Annie is already a hit with children and adults nationwide. But for those within the adoption constellation, the message may have been confusing. The original Annie is the story of an orphan girl who was hoping for the return of the parents, but was ultimately adopted by a wealthy entrepreneur. In the modern-day remake, Annie is a foster child, but otherwise the premise is the same.
While the movie, ultimately, is an uplifting story of triumph, it also depicts difficult themes and negative stereotypes regarding adoption and the foster care system. These include abandonment uncaring, abusive foster parents and incompetent, lazy social workers and case workers.
Foster Parents Are Only in it For the Money – The movie portrays Annie as being used by both her foster mom and her benefactor, and initially, neither seemed to put her best interests first. Ms. Hannigan makes it clear that she’s in it only for the paycheck, while Mr. Stacks was trying to improve his image in order to win an election. The fact that Annie was fully aware of this and handled it so matter-of-factly was heartbreaking. In most cases, foster parents are caring individuals who often go on to adopt the children they care for.
The rules don’t apply to the rich – Once Jamie Foxx’s character, Mr. Stacks decided to foster Annie, all it took was a cursory home visit by a lax social worker. By that evening, Annie was living in his penthouse. In reality, potential foster parents must go through a rigorous course of training, screenings and home visits than can last upwards of 6 months before a child is placed in their care.
Foster Children and Adoptive Children Have No Information about Their Birth Families – In the movie, Annie is a foundling who was left at the door of a restaurant, and has no information about her birth parents. Frequently children in foster care have information about, and even contact with their birth families. Advocacy and activism in recent years has led to more openness in adoption and access to birth records, medical records and family histories.
Annie is turned over to fake parents – Near the end of the movie Annie is reunited with a couple that pretends to be her parents. This premise is so far-fetched in that there are safeguards in place to ensure that this wouldn’t happen.
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