Superman- A Case Supporting Open Adoption

Written By Donal Murphy

I went to see Man of Steel, the new Superman movie on Sunday with my father-in-law, as part of Father’s Day celebrations. The movie itself wasn’t great and I must be outgrowing the action movie genre because I spent most of the movie with my fingers in my ears protecting my eardrums from the outrageous cacophony of noise in the movie and the volume-level set within the theater.

Superman was Adopted

Superman was Adopted

But what I enjoyed about the movie and what really struck me as I sat there with my fingers in my ears was that woven into the crash-bang, buildings falling down, spaceships zipping through the sky and military aircraft trying to shoot them down, was an extraordinary adoption story. And more to the point, an adoption story that makes a wonderful case for open adoption.

From childhood through adolescence, Clark Kent, aka Superman, knew that he was different. He had extraordinary powers, which he struggled to understand. Being unsure of himself, he kept to himself, which subjected him to the ridicule of other kids who perceived him as weird.

In a key moment in the movie, after Clark saves his school-mates from probable drowning when a school bus plunges into a river, this feat of power and bravery draws the attention of the townsfolk. As a means of protecting him, his father pulls him aside and reveals the hidden truth. Taking him down through a trap door in the barn, Clark’s father shows him the spacecraft that ferried him to Earth and reveals to him in that moment that he and his mother are not his birthparents. Although shocking to Clark, he takes solace in the fact that the inklings he’s had all these years that he was different, and the confusion that he constantly grappled with were finally validated. But this revelation didn’t heal everything.

As he grew into adulthood, he continued to spend a lot of time puzzling over who he was. There was still an emptiness within him and he lived on the fringes of society trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. From time-to-time, whenever the situation arose, he’d do amazingly altruistic things with the powers that he possessed. But there was this niggling sense that to experience true fulfillment he’d need to bring meaning and a deeper sense of purpose to the powers that he possessed.

The second pivotal moment in the movie and the most life affirming moment for Clark came while was working on an Arctic excavation of a spaceship that had been discovered entombed in the ice. Exploring the spaceship one night, he comes face-to-face with the spirit of his birthfather who was able to tell him everything about who he was, helped him understand his race, his heritage and his lineage, revealed to him who he, his birthfather, and birthmother were, and why they had chosen to send him off into the protection of Earth and another family, explaining that it was all done out of deep love and for his welfare, protection and best interest. They were at that time in their planet’s history incapable of giving him the life that they so desperately wanted for him.

In that moment, Clark awakens to his true nature and the truth of who he was gave him the strength to harness his powers and the meaning that he had been craving. He was no longer hemmed in by uncertainty and doubt.

As I watched this scene unfold, it was so reminiscent of everything that I have come to understand and appreciate about open adoption. It affirmed that for a child placed for adoption, knowing who you are and having an appreciation for where you’ve come from is a great gift. Further, knowing who your birthparents are and knowing that they placed you for open adoption came from a deep place of selfless love gives you everything you need to grow up to be an extraordinary human being.

Open adoption, whether it’s birthparents, adoptive parents, adopted children, and many, many people who are instrumental in placing a child for adoption, is littered with Wonder Women and Supermen.




  1. ‘Man of Steel’ Tells Superman’s Adoption Story - [...] can read the rest of this review at her blog (Warning: [...]

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