Avengers: Why Is Making Fun Of Adoption Still A-OK?

[Updated 05/19/2012: I’ve written a response to the many, many comments I’ve received to this post. You can find it on my fantasyworld blog: An Angry Adoptee Fangirl Responds To Avengers Adoption “Joke”]

Ah, adoption. Is there anything you can’t spoil? My husband took me out on a very nice date to see the Avengers movie. You’d think that would be safe from adoption triggers. You’d be wrong.

Background: Avengers is a group of kickass superheroes who, uh, kick ass. They’re in the same universe as the X-Men, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. In the Avengers, Thor’s god of thunder. Loki’s his brother – adopted, a point which becomes crucial – and Odin’s their God father. They’re Asgardians, a supposedly more advanced race (whom you’d think would be more civilized than to have sealed records, but there you go.)  The rest of the Avengers, for the purposes of the movie, are Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Hawkeye and Black Widow, with Nick Fury (everybody’s favorite badass Samuel L. Jackson) as the leader of military organization S.H.I.E.L.D.

[Very minor spoilers ahead…]

So there I am, forgetting my woes, laughing at the gang and drooling over Chris Hemsworth, when we get this lovely little tidbit. Thor is trying to explain to the others that Loki is his brother and his responsibility.

Black Widow points out, “He killed 80 people in 2 days.”

Thor explains, “He’s adopted.”

Cue entire theater laughing…. except for me. (And my husband, who knows better.)

I missed the next 15 minutes of the movie because I was seething. Joking about adoption isn’t funny. Joking about being adopted isn’t funny. Making fun of a late discovery adoptee is especially not funny.

Because that’s what Loki is. In the movie Thor, Loki finds out he was adopted as an adult. Odin All-Father (ha!) kept the truth from him, because he thought it was better for Loki, because he wanted adoption not to matter. Sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it? And it always, always backfires.

What bothered me is that this is a prime example of how adoptees are one of the last fair sources of discriminatory humor. We can have a black Nick Fury, we can have a female assassin, but the bastard remains the accepted butt of any joke. Think about what that one dismissive little line says: “He’s adopted.” In other words, it’s not Thor’s fault that Loki is such a jerk. Loki’s not a real member of the family. He knows it. His brother knows it and feels guilty. His father knows it and wants to make sure his “real” son is the one to inherit his throne.

Worse – Loki is not only adopted but he’s actually a Frost Giant, the Asgardians’ ancient enemy.  In other words, his birth family is the sworn enemy of his adopted family. His birth father is the enemy leader. His birth mother is nonexistent. His birth family are ugly monsters whereas his adoptive family are beautiful, blond, and godlike. Stereotype City!

Loki is also a textbook example of “bad blood”. He’s destined to turn evil, and he can’t get away from it no matter how much he tries. Think Damien from The Omen, another textbook example.

“He’s adopted.” Why is this joke acceptable? Why did the audience laugh? Why didn’t they rise up in HULK SMASH anger like I wanted to and scream, “Hey! That’s not funny!”

Because they don’t get it.

Why don’t they get it?

Because the adoption industry doesn’t want them to.

Look at Loki’s character from another perspective: You’ve grown up all your life with this strange feeling that you don’t quite belong. Your older brother is literally the golden boy, the one who will inherit your father’s legacy. You’ve lived all your life in his shadow, struggling just to be acknowledged by your family. Then suddenly one day your dad lets drop that you’re adopted. Would you, perhaps, be upset? Would you, perhaps, be angry?

It’s far more difficult to sell the idea that adoption is perfect when there are human faces on the victims. If we felt sorry for Loki, that might imply that not telling him the truth of his origins was wrong. If we accept that, we have to accept that concealing the truth from all adoptees is wrong. People might start to put themselves in the shoes of adoptees and their first families. They might start to question why adoption agencies are so vehement about keeping the records sealed. And if adoption isn’t perfect, and if families are hurt by it, then maybe there is another reason why the agencies want the records sealed – something they want to hide.

If Odin had told Loki from the start, the plots of Thor and Avengers would never have happened and Marvel would have been making money off Dazzler or Longshot or some other unfortunate Marvel superhero. If the adoption industry allowed people caught in the adoption trap access to information, the world might find out what they’ve been hiding: the coercion, the corruption, the lies.

Did Marvel think of all this when coming up with that joke? Of course not. The problem is that nobody ever thinks about it. It’s not even on their radar. If I had tried to explain this to the majority of people in that theater they would have thought I was nuts. How could that silly little joke possibly be upsetting or dehumanizing?

But it is. And mostly we just have to suck it up. I sat in that theater, furious, gripping my husband’s hand and growling under my breath. It’s like being under surprise attack. You never know when your enemy, Adoption, is going to jump out at you with a nasty-looking weapon and try to take your head off. And the people around you think you are fucking crazy because you keep ducking all the time.

Until our society as a whole decides these supposed “jokes” are unacceptable, we are not going to make any headway fixing what’s broken about adoption.


  1. http://S. says

    Thank you for this thought-provoking post. I am a mother who had to surrender my son and I too hate movies that trivialize the adoption experience and poke fun at being adopted. I do agree that most people don’t seem to see anything wrong with it. I often wonder how he (my son) feels at movies like that (we are in a reunion of sorts but haven’t met yet).

  2. “It’s like being under surprise attack. You never know when your enemy, Adoption, is going to jump out at you with a nasty-looking weapon and try to take your head off. And the people around you think you are fucking crazy because you keep ducking all the time.”

    You said it. You think it can’t happen again and it always does.

  3. http://Anonymous says

    Please sign my petition against the “Avengers” movie slam against adoptees:



  4. I posted Mara’s comment with her petition… but as I commented on Facebook:

    To everyone who is petitioning Avengers, boycotting etc. over that adoption “joke” I mentioned: Guys, I appreciate the thought, but that’s not going to help. Avengers is simply a tiny, tiny example of a much larger problem. Sure, we should tell them it wasn’t funny, but we can’t hold them accountable for a widespread problem that’s been happening for generations.

  5. I had started my own petition about four hours before Mara started hers: http://www.change.org/petitions/marvel-comics-marvel-comics-apologize-to-adoption-community
    (I’m demanding an apology by Marvel comics to the adoption community.) I feel it is important to call Marvel out on this, because of how popular the movie is. We have to make an example of Marvel in order to stop the much larger problem Triona mentioned above.

  6. Thanks for posting this! I took my 10 year old son to see this movie. Imagine my shock as a dad when these horrible words were uttered. My son is adopted and I never expected to have my family attacked by a movie from the Walt Disney Company.

  7. What a great post…totally relate to how we get “blindsided” with adoption issues, and how society is clueless.
    I sometimes appreciate the fact that society is more realistic than the adoption industry and makes them furious also, when they refuse to adhere to “positive” adoption language.

  8. We made a FB page. Great blog. I loved the movie but was so insulted by the adoption comment. https://www.facebook.com/groups/425376610808657/ “Avengers Insults Adoption”

  9. http://Anonymous says

    We have to hold them accountable. Change will not occur unless we, adoptees, push back.

    Pushing back is the only way we can gain national attention on this issue of discrimination against adoptees. Getting the mass public’s attention definitely sparks mass dialogue about why this is “funny”.


  10. Why is it ok to discriminate against the subset called adoptees? The government basically says: Adoptees cannot have access to their OBC’s. Now…replace that one word “Adoptees” to any other subset, be it by race, religion, social standing…and it would be all over the world as an abominable thing!

    Same with this joke. If it were someone who was disabled, or a joke about PMS…there would be an uprising…

    Why are adoptees (adoption) such fair game for such brutal discrimination?

  11. http://Anonymous says

    Dammit! This whole ‘adopted means other’ thing really pisses me off. Sounds like Whedon et al have managed to slam adoptees, make adoptive parents look like they can’t actually accept their kids or be respectful of their histories and families, and make birth families look evil and irrational. A full trifecta! Ugh. Thanks for the head up.

    The only line in your post I disagree with is this one: “Because the adoption industry doesn’t want them to.” Don’t think you can drop the whole mess there – it may be a big contributor to perceptions, but this foolishness is deeper than any one sector of society, and quite frankly, the adoption industry would quail at the power of the movie industry if it decided to change its tune.

  12. I’m really sorry that you were hurt over the movie. I haven’t had a chance to watch it or see the severity of the joke you’re talking about it and I’ll have to keep an eye out when I do watch it. I apologize if I seem insensitive. When it comes down to it though, if you follow your premise, you shouldn’t be boycotting the movie, but all comedy. Comedy in general is something that pokes fun of presuppositions of society. There is an aspect of turning off the social filter that is involved which draws the laugh. If it wasn’t adoption, it would be something else, so either all comedy should be stopped, or at least that which “pokes fun” of something- which is most comedy. Ultimately someone somewhere is going to be offended by nearly every joke. The question is, should we be offended or as a society learn to let it go and when those feelings rouse us to anger, let the comedy show us where our scars are on our hearts? I don’t know the answer, just something to think about.

  13. Triona,

    I had a similar reaction last night when watching “Bluebloods” On Demand, which actually aired last Friday night. In the show, a similar joke was made at the dinner table about one of the Commissioner’s sons who didn’t act the same way as his other siblings on a particular matter, so the joke was made that he was adopted. My husband also chuckled until I whipped my head around and glared at him. I am sick of supposed undesirable traits being attributed to the fact that a person was adopted. Too bad too because Bluebloods is a pretty decent show normally.


  14. Thanks everyone for your comments.

    MouthofTruth: I might be more willing to be “poked fun of” if my rights as an adult adoptee were not systematically trampled and if I was not continually discriminated against because of the circumstances of my birth.

    Everyone expects adoptees to blow off being “poked fun of”. Lighten up, it’s just a joke! Well, it’s not funny. And it wasn’t funny to all the adoptees who had to sit through it – especially the kids. Comments like this wear at you until you start to believe the message that adoptees are “less than,” not good enough, bad blood, destined to fail.

    Believe me, we adoptees receive that message on a daily basis. Try getting your original birth certificate sometime, or trying to get the agency that sold… er, adopted… you to tell you a goddamn thing. We’re lied to, blown off, treated like children and reduced to scrabbling for crumbs of our own information.

    So you’ll have to forgive me if my “social filter” is on the fritz. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all… I’m adopted.

    • http://Anonymous says

      I am appalled that such an insensitive and hurtful comment would be considered comedy. I am also sad you have had such a difficult time with adoption agencies. I just wanted to say that there are some good ones out there. My wife and I were blessed to become adoptive parents. Having witnessed first hand the devestation of closed adoption and secret keeping it was very important for us to work with an agency that shared our hope for open relationships so our son will always know his background and how loved he is. We were also thankful that our agency explains current laws and encourages openness. Society needs to get a clue. I was shocked to learn that any agreement for openness that is made is not legally enforceable but closed contracts are. We were informed that according to current law if we entered a semi-open relationship and later wanted more openness it could not be done. The agency would not be allowed by law to provide identifying information even if everybody involved expressed a desire for it. Bloodlines have nothing to do with family. My son is my son. I love him more than life itself and nothing will ever change that. We are all adopted into God’s family and that does not make us less than or less loved. I wish you blessings and healing in your journey.

  15. http://Anonymous says
  16. http://Mom23 says

    A friend on Facebook posted a link to your blog (and this article in particular) and I’m so glad she did.

    For one thing I am always glad to hear the thoughts, feelings and opinions of adoptees so that (with some work and luck) I can be supportive to my son as he grows up. (I’m an adoptive mother)

    Secondly I’m glad I saw your article because all everyone is saying is how fantastic this movie is and all three of my boys are begging to go see it. I was stunned to read what happens. I’m sorry you were hurt and also sorry to think that there are adopted children who watched it and heard lots of people laugh, as you did…

    Thanks for the heads up. How disappointing that someone didn’t care enough or think it through before writing that stuff. Especially in the case of a movie (primarily) aimed at children.

  17. MouthofTruth: To say “it’s comedy”! Misses the point. This is a blockbuster, money-making, marketed, Marvel, mainstream film. Therefore, while jokes are included — writers and editors have to make decisions about what jokes are “too far” from center. They want to be funny — but careful enough not to offend too many viewers Right? Funny is good, but money is better. 70 years ago it would have been unacceptable to make a casual about race in a movie. Today, it wouldn’t be — and a movie would lose money. If this joke was considered “too offensive” it would have been edited out. But it wasn’t. Why? Because, today, that joke is considered both mainstream & acceptable. But in 70 years, it won’t be. And adoptees (like me) will work to ensure that.

  18. By the way, for those who don’t see their comments posted: I am not approving comments that are malicious and hurtful. You want to disagree that adoptees are discriminated against? Do it somewhere else. We have few enough safe places to talk and this happens to be one of them.

  19. http://Anonymous says

    Thank you for posting this. I was most frustrated by Thor’s “joke” because they had worked SO very hard to ensure that Loki was not seen as other by his family. And then with one comment he discredited all of that. It unraveled the entire premise of the Thor/Loki dynamic. Joss Whedon may have a record of clever comedic timing – but he has a horrible record of truly understanding the nuance of relationships. That is evident with this. I think the reason people are laughing at this “my sibling is adopted” joke is because we have been trained over the years to find this joke among siblings funny. Historically, however, it is used regarding BIOLOGICAL siblings or a BIOLOGICAL child. Ultimately it is still a slam on adoption, but it is seen as funny because it is clearly not true. But the joke as used in the movie doesn’t even make sense because he IS adopted. That’s not funny – it’s just true! And Thor using it as a way to distance himself from his brother is not funny – it’s sad. Because Loki IS adopted and Thor’s words about brotherhood and sharing a common history/childhood, blah blah blah is now all irrelevant. It actually got me caring for Loki – the opposite of the intended message.

    I’m not angry at Joss Whedon – he’s an idiot regarding understanding human emotion. I just feel sorry for him and his inability to effectively maintain the story’s integrity. He discredited a major story line just so he could fit in a joke – which when really understood doesn’t actually make any sense and is extremely hurtful.

  20. For those who may be interested, I’ve posted some additional thoughts on Avengers on my fantasyworld blog:


  21. http://Brian says

    I am adopted and laughed at that scene. Guess it didn’t bother me at all.

  22. For those continuing to try to post discriminatory and hateful remarks – such as the moron who wrote “This is why the world hates adopted people…”

    Thanks. You just made my point beautifully. And no, I’m not posting your crap. Adoptees and first parents get more than enough of that bullshit. It will not be tolerated here.

  23. MouthofTruth: I’m Cajun and I love Cajun jokes. As long as it’s Cajuns telling them. But there is a difference between making fun of stereotypical aspects of being in a certain demographic, and making fun of *the person* simply because they are who they are.

    I have a better idea than banning comedy. How about we ban bullies who use “comedy” to beat up human beings. While we’re at it I could stand to ban sycophants who stick up for bullies when it’s not the bullies getting hit.

    You may interpret that any way you like.

    Brian: Then you don’t have any problems right now, do you?

  24. Great post and great points (like always), Triona.

    I will never be able to understand one thing when it comes to comedy: people who don’t know the difference between an insult and…well…comedy.

    True comedy is where everyone can laugh TOGETHER. It is a skill and a talent to get everyone, a diversity of people, all in one room being able to laugh together. Insults are when the majority of people laugh at someone else’s EXPENSE. It is perfectly possible to be very funny, even touch on touchy subjects, without being offensive. To say there is no possible way to do comedy without being nasty or marginalizing just goes to show few people appreciate good comedy done well by skilled comedians.

    What the “you’re being too sensitive” and the “everyone gets made fun of in comedy” people might as well say is “we have a right to laugh at your expense without being made to feel bad about it by being informed how it impacts you.”

    Know that that’s called? Privilege.

    I’m sorry you got some nasty comments, Triona (ones that, rightfully so, were not published). I had a recent experience that was similar on my blog. What’s really sad is that people are so hell bent on defending their favorite superheros and their right to be entertained however suits their fancy without thinking about how it might impact another person–they can’t for a minute consider the honest thoughts of a real human being. I would say it’s an effort for me to love human beings more than I love my television screen–but I can’t. It’s really not that hard. So I can’t at all understand where these people are coming from.

    How sad.

    And of course, it just proves your point.

  25. Thank you for this thought provoking post! I think too often adoption stereotypes are perpetuated through simple things like offhanded jokes like this one.

  26. http://Anonymous says

    Thank you for writing this. This one “little” line in the movie broke my heart and tainted the rest of the movie for me. With creative writers, there were dozens of other lines that could have been inserted there but this was chosen instead. The worst part was hearing the entire audience (minus myself and husband) erupt into laughter. I am an adoptive mom & all I could do was think of the pain it would cause my boys to hear this line in a “cool” movie. I had to explain to a friend why this comment wasn’t funny and the meaning loaded in it & she though I was being over sensitive. I eventually was able to put it into terms she understood (because I wasn’t going to give up!) but it made me sad it took an intelligent person so long to get its hurtfulness. Thank you again for writing this.

  27. http://Anonymous says

    Some interesting opinions in this forum.

    I suggest you guys go in there to give them a piece of your mind back.

  28. I have nothing against adopted people (wasn’t even aware that there was such a discrimination) and I laughed my ass off at the joke. Walt Disney and Joss Whedon were not trying to attack people that were adopted or their adopted parents. They were making a joke that was specific to his character and his arc. I realize you probably think you closed any possibility for an opposing argument when you brought up Loki being of “bad blood” but the fact remains that, while Thor and Loki loved each other, Loki was kind of always an asshole. Before he even knew he was a frost giant he allowed frost giants to enter Asgard to kill two Asgardians and risk taking their power source.

    AND let’s not forget that Odin and Thor love Loki not “like” a son and brother, but AS a son and brother. Loki only went crazy and tried to keep Thor banished because of unfounded jealousy that was always there. Him being a well taken care of political prisoner (which is really what he was) only made him think “oh so that’s why Daddy hates me!”, even though he loves him as much as Thor.

    To sum it up, it only works in Loki’s case because he actually is different. No commentary on adoption. The movie even goes to lengths to mock superhero movies that try to make political points. Criticize his arc if you want (which you really didn’t do…you just described it sarcastically) but the joke was not intended to mock people who were adopted, only to be an amusing back pedal on Thor’s part.

  29. Absolutely unacceptable! If this had been a racial slur or a slam against another group of people, they never would have gotten away with it. Why is it OK to slam adoptees? How disgusting.

  30. I think everyone is entitled to their emotions. You and I should not have to qualify our thoughts because they’re based on feelings. Feelings are the next step in evolution. Don’t let anyone look at you like you’re nuts because you are having a justified emotional reaction.

    In my opinion, I didn’t see the comment from Thor as another quip from the movie. Rather, I think the line is giving deep insight into Thor’s (and Loki’s) conflict in the film. Marvel and Whedon alike are ultimately teaching that it isn’t your blood that makes you who you are, it is your choices (not to sound all Dumbledore). Throughout Thor and The Avengers, as you mentioned, Loki finds out that he is the adopted by the Asgardians’ mortal enemies. He chooses to act like them, even when Thor and Odin beg him otherwise and tell him they love him. I do think a lot of Loki’s response is due to his abhorrence to having felt manipulated by not being told he was adopted… We all feel like origin is an essential part to our being, our identity. This is one of the many reasons the character Loki is so tragic and also loved by the comic readers. We love how he is constantly struggling with who he thought he was vs. how he thinks he must be because of the knowledge-change surrounding his genes. A struggle that Thor is constantly trying to help him resolve. In the comics and movies alike, Thor constantly pleads with Loki to discontinue walking down the “bad” path and start choosing to do what is good. Because Loki is Thor’s brother, and Thor knows that and embraces it yet feels Loki has turned his back on it. And in ONE moment, Thor lets out his frustration at Loki’s continued and obstinate insolence. We are all guilty of speaking too soon when we are fed up with the choices that those we love are making. Hell, we get fed up when those we completely dislike are making the wrong choices. And Thor, frustrated by his brother, laments.

    Now, I think the many moviegoers may overlook this quip as being so deep, and may see it only as something funny, and will laugh at it like it’s a punchline. But IMO, and maybe this comes with being a huge fan of both the comics and Joss Whedon, I think it was ironic language. I think it is ironic in the same way that, though Loki wants the whole Earth to kneel to him, he enters our world on bended knee.

  31. http://Ryan says

    I am curious to inquire on how many other times adoption is made fun of in our culture today. I realize there are a great deal of adoptees that may find this offensive, hurtful, and malicious, but for the most part I think this clip from the movie was taken with light hearts and simply interpreted as Thor saying he was bound to have SOME differences from him since he was adopted.

    So I ask you to point out other examples of this kind of attack on adoption in other media and films recently. I haven’t heard of this being a problem and I’m curious to see how much of a threat it really is.

    Also I will say that as man working in the film/movie industry, asking them to remove the clip will simply not happen unfortunately. It is a violation of the 1st amendment and infringes on the artistic freedoms of all involved. I do wish you luck and am looking forward to seeing your examples of how we can point out that making fun of adoption is not ok. Cause it really isn’t something that should be acceptable.

  32. I understand how this person (and apparently other parties) feel insulted and hurt by this line. Adoption can be a sensitive issue. I know I laughed at the line, if only because the set up was Thor talking about how good his brother is. I felt like the “he’s adopted” line was more of a nod to he’s a frost giant and that frost giants are crazy, than a jab at the fact he really isn’t his brother.

    Although I thoroughly disagree with this person when they start to say that Loki’s character is degraded because he’s adopted. Loki is a wonderful character I almost constantly felt bad for him in ‘Thor’. His character development in ‘Thor’ was amazing and I really felt like he was in a family struggling to hold onto their son. Same thing in the Avengers, Thor is constantly trying to reach out to his brother. Later, the author says Loki can’t be king because he’s adopted, I felt that this was a wrong assumption. Loki can’t be king because he’s younger. Not because Thor’s the “real kid.”

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I empathize with the author but I don’t think Loki is treated poorly for being adopted. I know he’s a much better character than Hawkeye, one of our stoic heroes. And frankly, he’s more interesting as a character than Thor. I like Thor but his character development only goes so far. In the ‘Thor’ movie I sort of made fun of him because I didn’t quite understand how his character changed. Loki tells him their dad is dead and then Thor drinks with the doctor, spends a night looking up at the stars with a girl and then suddenly in the morning he’s a changed man making breakfast for everyone! No, Loki is a much better character than Thor and treated as such.

    But thank you for the post, because I hadn’t thought that the line would be insulting at all. Like harv said- I thought it was just a nod to the ‘Thor’ film.

  33. FYI for the purposes of this post, I’m concentrating on Thor/Loki as portrayed in the movies, not the comics…

    Ryan, you pose an excellent question: what are some other examples of adoption discrimination in recent media? I can tell you the canonical recent example is Juno, which is chock-full of adoption stereotypes. Pick a Lifetime movie or a soap opera and you’ll find plenty more of the same.

    In the Marvel universe, I consider Wolverine the poster boy for adoptee rights.



    Reality shows are highly exploitative of adoption. Teen Mom, etc… and also many of the shows purportedly there to “help” adoptees like The Locator. (Troy Dunn, that was aimed at you.)

  34. Hi there, thought you might like my post on Disney movies. It’s an astonishing list…guess I will have to add The Avengers and mark it off my “must-see” movie list. Thank you for speaking up and writing these posts!
    Best, Two


  35. http://Anonymous says

    24 years ago, shortly after adopting our first child, I received a pamphlet in the mail from the Humane Society. It had on its cover a photo of an adorable puppy with the caption: “He doesn’t know he’s adopted”. I immediately called the number supplied for donations and donated a piece of my mind! They promptly withdrew that particular mail-out. Sometimes it helps to speak up!!!!

  36. http://Robin says

    This issue was on MSN and a poll was taken. About 97% of those responding thought people offended by this were just being too sensitive. Interesting, isn’t that about the same percentage of people in the population who are NOT adopted?

    I found the comment very offensive. There is and always has been a tremendous stigma against adopted people. I would think that any young adoptee hearing this would be very hurt. It further emphasizes the “other” status of adoptees and that there is something wrong with being adopted. And that it’s okay to make fun of friends and classmates who are adopted. I can’t think of any other group that could be “joked” about this way and it wouldn’t have been slammed as being horribly offensive.

  37. http://Robin says

    Also, the change.org petition has gotten some very hostile responses. Far more than I have seen for any other petition. These are probably from the same non-adopted people who say there is no stigma against adoptees and that we should all just lighten up.

  38. Agreed, Robin. The negative comments I’ve received reflect these same statistics. In some cases the hostility is truly impressive (and typically posted as “anonymous” of course).

    Which all goes to illustrate the point. Adoptees and first parents are routinely discriminated against, and when we call people out on the discrimination we are vilified.

    Funny how discrimination which would not be tolerated in any other segment of our society is absolutely acceptable when it comes to adoption. And funny how irate people get over the notion of adoptees and first parents standing up for themselves. For some of them, this was probably the first time they ever heard an adoptee say anything that wasn’t 100% positive about adoption. I suspect this was less about Avengers and more about maintaining the “adoption is awesome for everybody” myth.

  39. The MSNBC article for those who wish to read it.


    The fact that concern over this offensive “joke” is being completely dismissed is simply yet another example of adoption discrimination.

    And this is exactly our point. Adoption discrimination is so far off anyone’s radar that it is an uphill battle just getting people to admit it exists.

  40. http://Anonymous says

    For the adopted kids in the audience, my guess is that for many of them this joke at least briefly pulls them out of the movie and back to reality, and in reality, all adoptions start with a personal tragedy. Nothing to laugh about. Disney would be making retard and cripple jokes too if they could get away with it.

  41. http://Robin says

    If Thor explained, “He’s African-American”
    There wouldn’t have been hysterical laughter. There would have been stunned disbelief and silence. People would have stormed out of the theatre and demanded their money back. Why, because obviously this was saying that his race was the reason for his killing people.

    Or if Thor explained, “He’s a Jew”. Again, outrage because this is saying his religion is the cause.

    So why is it okay to say that the fact that he was not raised by his original parents is the cause and that is deemed acceptable and funny? And if we don’t like it, we are too sensitive?

    Oh, but of course, we all know that the responses “He’s African-American or Jewish” would never have been allowed in the movie in the first place.

  42. http://Anonymous says

    Right on! Disgraceful move by Disney — um, they are supposed to be a family friendly company, right?

  43. http://Anonymous says

    I was totally caught off guard by the “adoption joke” as I watched the movie with my three adopted children. And yes, the theater laughed at the joke. Clueless. From the 2+ hour movie my oldest 9 yrs, repeated only one phrase…that’s right “he’s adopted!” It was the first comment she made when relating the movie to my husband. What made me the saddest was she presented it as funny but it was obvious she was hurt and confused by the dialogue. We had a discussion about good and bad people but it didn’t repair the damage.

  44. I’m adopted, and don’t find this line insulting at all. People just need to get thicker skin, as a child however, when I was bullied for being adopted by view might have been very different.

  45. I’ve been really surprised at the vitriol and vehemency among the majority of comments I’ve read around the web, defending the line as a joke.

    Imagine my delight to find this rebuttal yesterday:


    Thanks for writing about this, Triona.

  46. http://Janice%20from%20PA%20and%20MD says

    I was adopted
    when I was 5 months. I was so fortunate to have amazing adoptive parents
    who gave me an abundance of love and acceptance as their true child. My
    sister (4 yrs younger) was adopted at 5 weeks and my brother (7 yrs
    younger) at 3 years. It hasn’t always been easy….the usual adopted kid’s
    questions and fears and wondering….but we consider ourselves the three
    luckiest kids in the world. With the exception of a few people on my dad’s
    side of the family, we were accepted as true family members from the start.
    We always knew we were adopted and our parents were always up front with
    everything. My dad was an attorney, so he and Mom knew more about out
    birth parents than most adopters would know, and he saved our paperwork in
    case we wanted to go searching later. None of us has……never felt the
    need. Although, I wish I would have had access to my medical history. In
    Pennsylvania, it is still illegal to look for your birth parents. You can
    request your medical history, but ONLY if your birth parents will provide
    it. If you have adopted kids, tell them that they are a lucky kid and
    that they belong to a very special group of people…..ones who were chosen
    through love and hope and heart.

  47. If it’s any consolation, I posted this on NYTimes:

    And received some angry personal emails on my work address *in addition* to blog comments.

    It was surprising to me that a few (3) people who didn’t agree located my email. I was told I had no right to be a doctoral student. I was told I was a whore. I was told I was over-sensitive and I needed therapy. However, it is worth noting that no writer identified himself/herself and used an anonymous email.

    But those weren’t the only emails I received. I received many kind, thoughtful thankful responses from adoptees and adoptive families. And those were the ones that made me cry — not the mean ones.

    That is the irony — we are accused of not having thick skin. But if we didn’t have thick skin, we certainly wouldn’t be posting about adoption for the world to read.

    In fact, your blog was the first I saw with an opposing viewpoint which I shared. A new story about adoption cannot be written if we are too afraid to write the first sentence!

  48. My, hasn’t this been interesting.

    For the commenters to this thread – and those whose comments weren’t approved – I invite you to don your fireproof undies and read my followup on my fantasyworld blog: An Angry Adoptee Fangirl Responds To Avengers Adoption “Joke”


  49. http://Robin says

    @Janice from PA and MD,

    The fact that you got such wonderful adoptive parents was purely luck. Not every adopted child does. You also mentioned that some of your relatives did not accept you as true family members. Funny, I have never heard of a biological child not being considered a member of his or her family. And being denied your medical information could cost you or any adoptee his life. To my way of thinking your comment shows why there is such a need for adoption reform.

  50. Comments on this post are closed. I’ve written a followup addressing the comments I have received. You’re welcome to comment there if you follow the don’t-be-a-dick rule.


  51. I’ve posted another followup, because the fun just don’t seem to stop (e.g. still receiving nasty responses):