Examples of Adoption in Film, TV and Theater
October 9, 2014 10:44 AM   Subscribe

Hey There Everyone, I'm looking for examples in movies, TV, theater, fiction, non-fiction, etc. that show older children being rescued and adopted by people who they are not related to. Thanks so much!
posted by sunnyblues48 to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Well, the most famous one is probably Annie.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:46 AM on October 9, 2014

The Blind Side
posted by twoporedomain at 10:47 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Camille/Cam on Bones adopts a teenager who's father died. Cam knew the teen as a child.
posted by saradarlin at 10:49 AM on October 9, 2014

The Book Thief.
posted by xingcat at 10:51 AM on October 9, 2014

Six Feet Under has a major subplot about this. If you've never seen it and only want to see the adoption stuff, that stuff is all in Season 5, I believe. Though there is a smattering of foster parent/extended family parenting an older child throughout the series.
posted by Sara C. at 10:52 AM on October 9, 2014

Arnold and Willis Jackson in the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes.

The following are not necessary older adoptees, but if you want to take the time you can look through them:
List of Fictional Adoptees from Wikipedia.

List of Adoptees from Wikipedia.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:53 AM on October 9, 2014

Punky Brewster.
posted by mskyle at 10:54 AM on October 9, 2014

The end of The Road.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:55 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Luke Brower from Growing Pains, as played by some guy named Leonardo DiCaprio.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:57 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Anne of Green Gables!
posted by something something at 10:57 AM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Grey's Anatomy - Meredith and Derek adopt a girl who is about 3 years old.
posted by thatone at 10:59 AM on October 9, 2014

Anime? Fate Testarossa gets adopted by Lindy Harlaown in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's. She's about 10 years old (physically; her actual age is problematic because of... spoilers).
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:00 AM on October 9, 2014

Anne of Green Gables. Webster.

(The intro to Diff'rent Strokes is pretty effed up. It makes the adoption process look like nothing more than a rich white guy making a quick stop in a bad neighbourhood to call out, "Hey, kids, who wants a ride in my limousine?")
posted by Sys Rq at 11:00 AM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Real life? Wil Wheaton married Anne Prince, who had two sons from a previous marriage. One of the sons (age 19 at the time) asked Wil to adopt him, and Wil did so.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:04 AM on October 9, 2014

Oh, it occurs to me: You said rescued and adopted.

The Walking Dead?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:07 AM on October 9, 2014

I only watched the first season or so, but I'm pretty sure that the Cohens officially adopt Ryan on The O.C.
posted by radioamy at 11:07 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Most Shirley Temple movies.
posted by Melismata at 11:08 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Jan Karon's Mitford books -- a priest saves/adopts a young teenager who was abandoned by his mother.
posted by JanetLand at 11:10 AM on October 9, 2014

Free Willy involves a teenager in foster care. According to Wikipedia, Jesse is adopted by his foster parents in the interval between Free Willy and Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home.
posted by SeedStitch at 11:19 AM on October 9, 2014

Harvey Pekar (American Splendor comic book and movie guy) and his wife adopted their daughter when she was 9.
posted by stefanie at 11:28 AM on October 9, 2014

The titular character in the television series Dexter is the child of a woman who is murdered. A police officer investigating the incident adopts him.

Two of the main characters in the science fiction television series Defiance are a human ex-soldier and his non-human adopted daughter whom he rescued from abuse.
posted by XMLicious at 11:30 AM on October 9, 2014

Here's a broader TVTrope that might have more of what you're looking for, though you'll have to pick and choose a bit: Happily Adopted. There's also Foster Kid, which is short on entries at this point, but does include the Bones TV show character, Lance Sweets, who was abused as a child, then adopted by loving foster parents.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:32 AM on October 9, 2014

One of the subplots in Aliens involves Ripley rescuing a little girl, "Newt," from the exomorphs.

Granted, Newt's dead by Alien3, but whatever.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:33 AM on October 9, 2014

Oh - and then there's Silas Marner. It got a contemporary film adaptation as A Simple Twist of Fate.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:35 AM on October 9, 2014

There's also All Dogs Go to Heaven! (Which is actually kind of a creepy movie as an adult , but I watched it daily as a kid.)
posted by chatongriffes at 11:39 AM on October 9, 2014

World War Z has the main family effectively adopting a teenaged (?) child whose family has been zombified. I suspect that at one point in time it was a deeper plot point, because as it ended up they sort of adopt him and he tags along, but nothing much more is made of it.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:41 AM on October 9, 2014

The ABC Family show The Fosters is about a family who have fostered/adopted kids--one set of twins who were youngish (backstory before the show begins) and then an older kid and a teenaged girl who are first fostered and then adopted by the Fosters.
posted by TwoStride at 12:27 PM on October 9, 2014

Parenthood has had a several-seasons-long subplot on this.
posted by mykescipark at 1:11 PM on October 9, 2014

posted by ckape at 1:45 PM on October 9, 2014

And here's where I suggest Angels in the Outfield to someone on the internet.
posted by magnetsphere at 2:21 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Fonzie adopted a son in the last season of Happy Days.

From Wiki Though he never married, he adopted a young orphan boy named Danny Corrigan, Jr., in the final season, completing his transformation from rebel to family man.
posted by Benway at 2:49 PM on October 9, 2014

The Kid With a Bike is a very nice French movie about a young boy and a hair dresser. It's on Netflix.
posted by invisible ink at 5:10 PM on October 9, 2014

A Little Princess
posted by brujita at 6:42 PM on October 9, 2014

Two real life examples though I don't think formal adoption happened in either case:

Edmund White certainly rescued his nephew, Keith Fleming (NYT review of Fleming's memoir);

Doris Lessing certainly rescued Jenny Diski
(memoir by Diski in LRB).

Both writers rescuing other young writers during a difficult and vulnerable adolescence. And probably saving their lives.
posted by glasseyes at 4:50 AM on October 10, 2014

Oh, there's a lovely quote at the end of that NYT article. "It (the memoir) could serve not just as a pocket manual on the gentle art of unclehood but also as a primer on how to, and how not to, raise a teenage boy."
posted by glasseyes at 4:55 AM on October 10, 2014

TNG (Worf)
posted by mwhybark at 10:59 AM on October 6, 2015

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