5 great family movies about adoption

It’s Christmas time, and many families look forward to lighting a fire and settling down for family movie night (if the weather ever decides to get cold enough). As we were watching the great Will Ferrell in Elf over the Thanksgiving weekend, we started thinking about other family movies that addressed adoption.

Many families find that watching movies with positive adoption messages can help adoptees feel understood, so we thought we’d put together a fun little list of 5 great family movies that show adoption in a positive, entertaining light. Let us know what you think of our list, and share your favorites that we might have left out down in the comments.

5. Disney’s Tarzan

adoption movie - Disney's Tarzan

Tarzan is one of Disney’s greats, with awesome animation and amazing songs – but since it’s older, many kids haven’t seen it. Quite possibly the most famous adoptee in literature, Tarzan is adopted and raised by apes – but eventually questions his origins. The movie even includes song lyrics that celebrate “two worlds, one family.” Kids from 5 to 10 will absolutely love this movie.

4. Kung Fu Panda 2

In the second Kung Fu Panda movie, Po’s adoptive father Mr. Ping tells him about his own adoption story, explaining how a goose came to be the father of a panda. In a perfect depiction of a supportive adoptive father, Mr. Ping fully supports Po as he sets out to find out where he came from and who he is. It’s friendly (and immensely enjoyable) for all ages.

3. Despicable Me 2

Continuing the “second movie tells it better” trend, in Despicable Me 2 we see that Gru has happily settled into his new life as a dad. He loves his daughters unconditionally, and is a nurturing, positive influence in the girls’ lives. We love the message that sometimes, loving fathers have to be glittery fairy princesses.

2. Annie

This recent remake covers another one of the most famous adoption stories, and it’s a ton of fun (ignore the over-the-top stereotypes of greedy families and inept social workers). It shares a really positive message about the permanence of adoption, and the catchy songs will get stuck in your head for weeks. While kids of all ages will love this movie, it’s a special favorite for most little girls.

1. Elf


By far our favorite adoption-themed movie. The hilarious Will Ferrell plays Buddy, a human baby adopted and raised by Christmas elves. He sets out to New York City to find his birth father, who eventually comes to love him. The positive re-unification theme is great for adopted kids, and more than anything, it’s hilarious and fun to watch.

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