I got adoption blindsided by The Tigger Movie last night. AJ and I walked to the library in the morning, stopping to kick some leaves along the way, and she was delighted to spot a Pooh movie on the shelf to bring home along with her Eric Carle and Ezra Jack Keats and Happy to Be Nappy and Muppets sing-along (for mommy) and other books. Maybe I should have read the cover. She liked it all right. I didn’t.
From what I could gather between laundry runs, Tigger becomes sad about being “the only one” and goes looking for his family tree, which of course he thinks is an actual tree—cue two-year-old confusion. I try to help by explaining he’s looking for his family, his mommy and daddy Tiggers. I then realize where this is going: he’s not going to find them (after all, he’s the only one).
The plot thickens with the friends’ poorly conceived plans to help Tigger feel better by writing a letter “from his family,” leading Tigger to believe they’re coming to see him. The friends then dress up like Tiggers for the party he’s prepared, but when Tigger finds he has been deceived, he runs away in search of the real Tiggers.
I know all this is supposed to be a feel-good story about how your family is the people who love you. But trying to translate it down to my daughter’s level, it came across as these people lying to Tigger because he doesn’t have a real family, a mommy and daddy. And he’s the only one—the only one like him, the only one without a family tree, the only one asking these questions.
As a topper, when Rabbit leads the others to find Tigger in a snowstorm, he’s angry that Tigger had run off, and when Tigger says it was to find his family, Rabbit yells, “Stop all this family nonsense!” Tigger is crushed.
How many adoptees have been crushed like that?
How many have searched and never found?
Is that going to be my daughter?
My daughter’s family tree is more elusive than a leaf in a hundred hundred-acre-woods of trees. I don’t know how to find it, and the temptation is to deny it, ignore it, pretend it doesn’t matter—pretend that we, like Roo and friends, can pass off a letter we wrote as enough, call ourselves her family, and be done with it.
But it’s not enough. He wants to know.
She deserves to know.
The movie ends with Tigger giving Roo what he believes is a family locket and Christopher Robin taking a “family picture” of all the friends together to go in it. So they’re family, right, and they all lived happily ever after?
Well, yes and no. Family is more than a tree; it can be made, not just born.
But my daughter still wanted to know where his mommy and daddy are.
I just want her to know: she’s not the only one.
I’ll try, baby girl. I’ll try.