Adoption groups urge boycott of horror film “Orphan”

It’s been out for a week and a half now, and adoption groups are getting wind of the plot of horror film Orphan and are urging a boycott. Without giving too much of the plot away (which is easily spoiled by reading the synopsis on Wikipedia) 9 year-old orphan Esther is adopted by a wealthy family eager to give her a home. Esther at first seems like a withdrawn child who is mature beyond her years, but soon wrecks havoc on her adopted family in chilling scenarios that are typical for the “evil child” genre. Many adoption groups find the film offensive, particularly because it discourages adoption of older children who are most in need of a home:

Warner Bros. new horror flick “Orphan” may be causing its audience to scream, but it is also causing a squeal from a growing number of national adoption groups and organizations who are urging Americans to boycott the flick which is centered on an evil adopted child.

Leading philanthropist and founder of Children Uniting Nations which supports foster youth, Daphna Ziman, is one of the many who are outraged and joining the charge to promote a socially responsible solution.

“Although we recognize the film is fiction, the response we have had from adoption groups and potential adoptive parents has been overwhelming,” Ziman told Tarts. “When a major corporation sensationalizes on an area that affects our nation’s most needy children without responsible messaging it is unconscionable. Warner Bros. needs to be socially conscientious of the children they are potentially harming and put a disclaimer on the film and a public service announcement educating viewers on the plight of children living in protective custody through no fault of their own.”

Advocacy groups believe that the film may feed into any possible pre existing doubt and prevent parents from adopting. Although Warner Bros is yet to meet Ziman’s request for a meeting with executives to add the disclaimer, the studio has reportedly removed a highly criticized line from the film where the orphan Ester says, “It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own.”

“’Orphan’ is a work of fiction; it is not a depiction of any real-life events or situations and has never been portrayed as anything but an entirely fictional story,” a rep for Warner Bros told Tarts in response. “We apologize if we appeared insensitive with the initial trailer as it’s never our intent to offend anyone with our products.”

[From Fox News Pop Tarts]

Journalist Linda Cook brings up the controversy over the film in her review on Rotten Tomatoes. Cook was adopted as a child and writes that she overheard someone leaving the movie say “Boy, I’d never adopt after seeing that.” She says that “this is the sort of thing that touches a nerve in any adoptee,” but adds “If someone really, truly wanted to adopt… it would have taken more than a single movie to dissuade them.”

I can understand how adoptees and adoption advocates would take offense to this film. The line in the trailer, mentioned in the source article above, “It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own,” was removed from future versions but you can still see it in official trailers available online. There’s even a user-created remix of the trailer that includes overlaid words like “Thinking of adopting? Think again.”

Have any of you seen this film and would you agree that it can dissuade people from adopting? Please don’t reveal any spoilers in your comments as I understand this film has a huge twist at the end. I’m not a horror movie fan and am not likely to ever rent this film, but some people could be waiting to see it.

Photos are stills from Orphan featuring Peter Sarsgaard, Vera Farmiga and Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther. Credit:

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67 Responses to “Adoption groups urge boycott of horror film “Orphan””

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  1. Stephie says:

    Jeez…it’s a *movie*. Anything to have something to complain about.

  2. lena says:

    you are right, there is a huge twist at the end (i saw the movie), and if people have half a brain cell in thier heads they would know that it is very UNLIKELY that something like that would occur in the real world. If one horror movie can dissuade folks from adopting then they clearly don’t need to adopt. It’s a movie!

  3. Sari Walden says:

    I totally agree that this movie could dissuade someone from adopting. My 16 year-old (who we adopted at birth) and I went to see it, not knowing exactly what it was about. As soon as I figured it out, I asked my son if he wanted to leave. He said no, and seemed fine with it. I, on the other hand, sat there sweating through the entire thing, feeling like a terrible parent. I try to be a good sport about things and not take anything too seriously, but this movie’s message worried me. My fear is that people are already pre-disposed to assume that older kids who are eligible for adoption are somehow lacking, or defective in some way. God forbid anybody should think that, but someone might, after seeing this movie. Just be aware of this movie’s message, before you go. And if you were thinking of adopting a child, don’t stop–our son is the best thing that EVER happened to my husband and me.

  4. DD says:

    I think people that say they would never adopt after seeing that film, shouldn’t be adopting in the first place or wouldn’t anyway. They sound pretty stupid if a film based on pure fiction could sway them like that.

  5. Renee says:

    If people let a work of fiction prevent them from adopting a child, they weren’t mature enough to adopt in the first place. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. *rolls eyes at the issue*

  6. Melanie says:

    @ Lena, I read something in the New Yorker years ago about something similar to what happened at the end of the film. It was a true story and it happened in France. The “orphan” wasn’t going to homes and killing people but typically staying at the orphanage for free room and board.

  7. viper says:

    Speakiong as an orphan I loath it when people see individuals like myself with any kind of distain. I get words such as:

    Ah the orphan ( my grandfathers first words to me when I was 12 and meeting him for the first time.)

    It’s never my name with my family I am never worthy to them. By their mentality it’s because my parents and entire family were killed. So I am a war child with no status or tribal linage. Therefore I am inferior and should have not been adopted or be allowed to inherit anything from my mother. I am polluting the bloodline! They think I’m subhuman and the only reason I am in this family was because my mother is american, if it weren’t for me being american the family my mom wants me to be apart of so desperately would have forced her to disown me by taking her to RELIGIOUS COURT and simply remain my guardian. Never mind the fact that I am her only child and the element of unconditional love, forget all that. I mean non of them will adopt because to them is blasphamy! For fuck sake…

    So yeah this movie hurts me and others like me. People already think less of us as it is. I hate it when people have kids because I feel they are selfish for wanting to see their genes past when there is a baby/child out there who needs them. who gives a damn if a kid has his or her nose??? Its all genetics, all things you dont see, those things should be the things that dont matter!

    My mother and I have a bond, she is my best friend as well as my hero. If it wern’t for her bravery and standing up to her family to adopt me and go through it all as a single parent, I would be dead. I appreeicate her and when she leaves this place and is six feet under she will be taking the best part of me with her. It’s only because of her that I am alive, plain and simple. I love her and someday want to return the favor by giving back just as much as she has given me. Like genetics has any relevence at all.

    I salute anybody and anyone who fights for a life and fights to give a child a future. But I admire those that can love unconditionally dispite what apparently society deems unnessesary.

    I just know my family will see this and the younger generation like mine will throw it in my face. ” The Orphan” will have a new meaning to them.

  8. the truth says:

    its only a effing movie

  9. Green Is Good says:

    And now “Orphan” is getting tons of free publicity. Win for the studio.

  10. Maddie says:

    I have to agree with the boycotting of this this movie because of after watching Cujo I could never be around St Bernards with running to a car any car and locking myself in.

  11. embertine says:

    I have two sets of friends who are considering adoption (one couple are considering adopting an older child). There is no way in hell these people would be put off by this movie. It’s a movie.

    To those commenters who have been distressed by this film: with respect (and compassion), I think this film has not created issues for you, but highlighted existing insecurities or hangups. Most films touch on difficult issues for someone; that’s what makes us want to watch a movie, that it deals with emotions and scenarios with which we identify.

  12. Firestarter says:

    Well let’s just ban movies PERIOD! Let’s not have any form of entertainment because it is libel to dissuade us from having pets (Cujo), going on an airplane (Snakes on a Plane) taking a cross country trip with our friends (Texas Chainsaw Massacre. House of 1000 Corpses) have roomates (Single White Female)swim in the ocean (Jaws). I mean seriously, people need to lighten up. I doubt anyone considering adopting would be influenced by a movie. If they are that easily led, then they need help and shouldn’t be adopting in the first place.

  13. pebbles says:

    yeah, remember The Bad Seed???! That was one evil kid and there was no adoption involved.

  14. Maddie says:

    @ Firestarter take a pill I was being sarcastic, I was listening to NJ101.5, and they were having a blast with all the overly sensitive people out in the world who made the movie Excs take out a line in the movie because it might make adoptive kids question the love of their parents.

    Fact of life is some parents don’t even like the kids they give birth to, so why not bitch about other movies where one child is favored more so then the other.

  15. Risa says:

    First of all its a MOVIE a.k.a. NOT REAL.
    Second, if someone is nieve enough to believe this movie-they shouldn’t be adopting kids anyway.

    Seriously people. Reach around and pull the stick out of your a$$

  16. Maddie says:


    I love The Bad Seed have it dvd.
    Great movie but the mother of the bad seed was adopted.

  17. flourpot says:


  18. icky says:

    I haven’t seen it (yet) but I don’t see how putting a disclaimer and a psa on the film is going to make it less offensive to adoptees –

  19. lena says:

    @ melanie,

    really, i would like to read about that, i never ever heard of anything like before… can you remember any other info so i can look it up?

  20. Wench. says:

    Wowzers. If people are using this as a reference to whether to want to adopt, these aren’t people I’d be comfortable with raising children!

    As for the film: WHOA! I really enjoyed it. I think it’s hard for horror films to scare these days without copious amounts of gore (of which I am a fan) but I found this genuinely creepy all the way through.

  21. TaylorB says:

    After reading the Wiki page on this film, and by the way it certainly is quite the spoiler, I have a hard time buying it that any person in their right mind would actually hesitate on an adoption because of this film.

  22. Firestarter says:

    @Maddie- I was not addressing you. I hadn’t even read your comment, so you need to take a pill and chill. I was addressing the article and the group complaining about the movie. Have a super day and maybe stop being so paranoid.

  23. Marlene says:

    I think the movie touches on the fears of adopting an older child. We had some “fears” of our own when we adopted 2 older children, but nothing like the movie; it’s a fear for all parents that there child will turn out this way, not just adopted children. But with this out there and other films like it wakes up the fear inside people and turns them off from “considering” to adopt or foster an older kid.

  24. barneslr says:

    It’s a movie. Movies are made about all sorts of topics. Anyhone who takes offense should just not go see it. And to the orphan who posted that this movie hurts him/her; I’m sorry about that, but you really need to get over it. I’m sure we can all find movies that offend us or touch upon our sensitivities, but we don’t declare that movies not be made. We just don’t go see them. If we only made movies that didn’t offend anyone, NO movies would ever get made. It’s just a matter of being mature and understanding that sometimes in life you are going to be exposed to things that you aren’t crazy about. It doesn’t mean you have to like it, but it does mean you just suck it up and move forward.

  25. Zoe says:

    If someone is dumb enough to let a movie deter them from adopting, they have no business being parents to begin with.

  26. fizXgirl314 says:

    oh brother, if someone is going to be dissuaded from adopting from a stupid movie, then maybe you don’t want those people adopting anyway? think of it as a moron filter… :/

  27. tasteT says:

    I thought this was a pretty good movie, however it would NEVER deter me from adopting..

    I would however do more homework about the child’s lineage but this is due to a friend adopting a child unknowingly with special needs and not being told.

    The movie is made up and entertaining.

  28. jae says:

    Haven’t seen the movie. But while there are plenty of positive adoption stories, adoption groups also want you to forget the nightmares some parents endure after adopting, whether as a newborn or as an older child. I’m a mental health therapist who has worked heavily with adopted children and their adopted families and the fact remains that you have no idea what trauma might have happened before the child came to you that will affect them for years to come. Children removed from custody and ultimately placed for adoption are done so for very good reasons — their protection. But chances are unimaginabile things have happened to these kids and they act out of that trauma.

    Adoption is a beautiful thing — giving a child a well-deserved home. But it’s not without its share of horror stories. I think people mean well but often are not well-acquainted with the harsher realities of it.

    That being said, why is this any different than any other displaced child movies — anybody else see “The Good Son”?

    The point is IF you are going to let a movie change your mind, you shouldn’t be adopting in the first place. But everyone considering adoption should look at the whole picture.

  29. Sunnyjyl says:

    It’s a HORROR film… Sensitive people should know better than expose themselves. Let those who truly love horror flicks enjoy their dang movie.

  30. wizzolator says:

    “Advocacy groups believe that the film may feed into any possible pre existing doubt and prevent parents from adopting.”

    Anyone that lets a fictional film help them make decisions is a fn idiot.

  31. Bill Hicks is God says:

    These crybaby organizations who claim to speak for entire groups of people kill me. Spare me your “outrage” – go hyperventilate into a paper bag or take it out on some bubble wrap and get a grip.

  32. Bob Lawblaw says:


    If it makes you feel any better, I’d much rather adopt than birth a child.

    I also tend to agree with the general distaste of this film, but I’m not really into that genre as it is–nor did I read the synopsis.
    The fact remains that they are singling out a group of individuals that already go, or have gone, through enough pain as it is– why smack a social hazard on their backs too?

    I just think it seems pretty unnecessary, that’s all.

  33. the original kate says:

    it is a movie, and anyone who would let a movie change their minds about adopting shouldn’t be parents to any child. did “rosemary’s baby” slow down the birth rate? no.

  34. Maddie says:

    Firestarter you said

    “Well let’s just ban movies PERIOD! Let’s not have any form of entertainment because it is libel to dissuade us from having pets (Cujo)”

    As a child I was bit by a dog and I love dogs have two of the cutest dogs on the planet.

    Not paranoid as I said I was being sarcastic about the whole up roar period.

  35. viper says:

    @Bob you’re absolutely right.

  36. Kikker says:

    Maddie I have been reading the comments and Firestarter was responding to the article. Not your comment.

  37. Kerri says:

    Viper, i get houw hurtful it must be to see a movie like this, but you are being just as hateful when you say that you hate people who want to have their own kids.

    we are all entitled to our own opinions and lives.

    someone could say the same thing about people who have children and then don’t care for them. why don’t you hate those people instead. if two people choose to have children and care for them fine, that’s their choice.

    movies like this can admittedly send a bad message but we need to realise that it is only when we as people make a mountain out of a mole hill it is only then that the problems begin.

    if we just take it as a movie and move on, we’ll all be ok. yet some people just intend to make a big deal and create the atmosphere that habours the hate and eventually make adopted children (in this case)feel the way that they do.

  38. Ruby Red Lips says:

    ITS JUST A FILM!!!!!!

    What is happening to this world?!

  39. Firestarter says:

    @Maddie- As I stated, I did not READ your comment. The fact that I metioned Cujo was strictly coincidental. The comment was not directed at you, but if you would like to feel that it was, that is okay by me. If I had directed the comment towards you it would have had : @Maddie, as I have done with any comment I have directed at you.

  40. I Choose Me says:

    Kerist. Another bunch of reactionaries making much ado about nothing. Any person or couple who decides not to adopt an older child because of a damned movie, is/are idiot(s) who shouldn’t be adopting in the first place.

  41. Maddie says:

    Calm down these things happens when something is typed on a site instead of speaking face to face, and since you mention Cujo after my post I thought you took my post as being one of kool-aid drinking crowd

    I went to Wiki to read the plot and almost spit out my ice chunks, who would have thunk it…..

  42. oh my says:

    Hmmm, did these groups request a boycott of the Omen (remember, Damien was adopted)? For crying out loud, it’s a horror film!

    I agree with everyone who says that anyone who would be dissuaded from adopting based on this movie is someone who should not consider adoption at all

  43. Lizzy says:

    No, this movie will not discourage adoption. That’s like saying the movie ‘Christine’ would discourage people from buying cars. People are so ridiculous sometimes.

  44. Salina says:

    OOOH I love “the bad seed” movie. I heard it was a long running play before they decided to make it into a movie. All the original cast of the play were in the movie as well. They had a disclaimer at the end of the movie because the plot was so unconventional at the time. They kill the main character off in the movie, but in the play “she lives to kill again” OOOOHHHH!!

  45. Aspie says:

    LMAO @ Maddie’s first comment!

  46. Hieronymus Grex says:

    People are such children these days. Boycott it because its a terrible film, not because the boogeyman will jump out of the screen and make you not want to adopt a kid.

  47. Silky says:

    O.K First of all it’s just a movie..If we look back at every movie ever made there is going to be one that is going to hit a nerve for someone. If you are going to adopt a child then thats great but if a movie affects that desicion then maybe it was never something you should have considered… There are many cases in which children are not adopted and turn out just like the character in this movie but that doesn’t stop people from giving birth. So why are we making such a big deal about nothing… For most of us who have kids we say suck it up and we try to make them understand that not everything in this world is going to be easy and we wont always like everything that we see or come in contact with .. be it adopted children or our own biological children… There are movies that make a case to both points of view but again they are movies and we did not feel the need to put disclaimers on every film made even though they may have hit a nerve that wasnt in the majority… so i really don’t understand what the big deal here is.. I have children yes biological but i would adopt a child of any age that needed a home and love.. if with that comes a few hardships so be it because guess what.. even with our own biological children we get those too… so if a movie really can make you rethink adopting then just dont bother doing it for your sake and the childs…

  48. xiufetish says:

    Having adopted a (wonderful) child, I don’t for a moment believe that a horror film would dissuade any reasonable person from adopting.

    However, was it necessary for Warner Bros to use lines like “It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own”, which (besides being completely false) are so hurtful to adopted children merely to promote a piece of ephemeral entertainment? There are any number of ways this film could have been promoted which doesn’t offend one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. Why don’t they just groin-punch the elderly while they’re at it.

  49. yae says:

    I’m adopted, I think the movie is silly. I want a movie about in-vitro where the lab eggs infect the women with parasites and they become walking dead.

  50. Silky says:


    I can understand how alot of ppl would feel that way about that particular line in the movie but like it or not be it an adopted child or a step child … sometimes that is how children feel… its an insecurity that in most after much reassurance stops..but once again its a movie and i couldn’t agree more with the person who wants the movie about in-vitro lab eggs infecting women with but can you imagine the controversy on that one???

  51. Jojo says:

    LOSERS !!!!

  52. dubdub2000 says:

    If a person is disuaded from adopting ANY child by a horror movie that person clearly has severe mental issues and is not fit to be a parent. I would say this should be required viewing then!

  53. BlueSkies says:

    I will say this, I’ve always noticed people who try to make judgments on adopted people are usually overweight, unattractive people trying to justify why that adopted person has better genes (as if by accident) than they do. All adopted people should be secure in knowing this & seeing it for what it is. The only ones who judge are the ones who didn’t win the genetic lottery so they try to rationalize this with “illegitemacy”. Think back. You’ll see.

  54. linda says:

    okay, off topic, I know – but Damien in the Omen was not “adopted”. The parents thought he was their birth child. Unbeknownst to them, he had been switched. Just neeeded to clarify. Peace, out!

  55. Aspen says:

    Viper, that is a very sad story and all, but methinks you’re wallowing in what you imagine to be an ocean of cruelty and drama when actually, it’s just a family with a couple of assholes in it.

    My family has some assholes in it, too, and my genetic tie to them had nothing to do with their assholery. As a kid, I cried about it when they were mean to me and my mother did her best to shield me from them. I’m not a kid anymore. Now, I choose who I get to be around. You have that choice, too.

    Living the rest of your life as a victim and wasting life’s energy hating the people with bio kids because your adoptive grandfather was a giant dick…is the only actual, reality-based tragedy you’re in danger of falling into anymore.

    This movie is a movie. I love scary movies. Like Children of the Corn and Bad Seed, I’m sure it’s creeptastic, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

    It will in no way change my ideas about, compassion for, or attitudes surrounding orphaned children, adoptive families, or the blessing of parenthood in general.

  56. SJones says:

    So, I suppose that you also wouldn’t

    – stay in a motel/hotel, after all, the owners must by psychotic killers

    – swim in the ocean, a shark will eat you

    – go camping, a psychotic killer is waiting in the woods

    etc., etc., etc. When did we suddenly lose our grasp of fiction and fact?

    ‘News’ such as this creates larger drama then the movie itself, and it’s a shame that people can no longer enjoy movies, books, etc. without someone coming out of the wood-work concerned about rubbing some one wrong.

  57. clare says:

    Let’s all write nasty letters to ROBERT DOWNEY,JR’s wife, SUSAN, and to LEO DiCAPRIO who are PRODUCERS of this crappy movie!

  58. Michele says:

    I guess I look at this differently then a lot of people because I see it as possibly weeding out people who should not adopt. Anyone who is going into adopting to have the perfect child with no problems or think that all adopted children will have no issues should not be adopting. Many years ago I saw a movie about a couple adopting two children. I think it was called “a child of rage” and it was based on a true story of a child with severe Reactive Attachment Disorder. I was terrified to the core and thought of that movie often even though I did not know I would adopt some day. When it came time to adopt the oldest of our 3 adopted children she was 2 1/2. I thought of that movie and although scared still went ahead.
    It turned out she does have RAD like the child as well as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and many other issues. We still adopted her because we love her as if she were our bio child and we took her for better or worse just like our two bio children and our other two adopted children. She will probably never be fully attached to us but she’s ours. I think the people that are meant to adopt can see a movie like this (or in my case a true story) and still adopt. The people that want a perfect, problem free child and will see this movie and change their minds probably should not be adopting in the first place. I have not seen the movie (with 5 kids who has time) but did think the trailers reminded me of a RAD child. We still would have adopted our 3 girls no matter what movie we saw and I think that’s how most people who are meant to adopt feel.

  59. crash2GO2 says:

    Everyone needs to be responsible for their own reactions to whatever is put out there. Otherwise we’ll be back to banning and burning books again. If something disturbs you, it disturbs YOU. Figure out why, deal with your issues, and then move on.

    Not an easy task, admittedly. But with practice you get better at it. Life is too short.

  60. Francesca says:

    PC retardation is at an all time high, if this really discourages adoption. Jesus.

  61. Howard says:

    If it was a blonde headed white girl playing the orphan part it wouldve even never made it to the theaters lets be honest here.

  62. jeni says:

    Saying that people won’t adopt after watching this is like saying people won’t bear their own children after watching Rosemary’s Baby, or won’t hire a baby sitter after watching the Hand that Rocks the Cradle. I guess if we are that easily influenced, we had better quit watching movies. It’s entertainment, nothing profound.

  63. sauvage says:

    Ya, just like people stopped falling in love and forming couples a long time ago because of all the movies about husbands turning out as serial killers.


  64. Lindy S says:

    Give me a break. Saying “Orphan” would keep people from adopting is like saying one of the thousands of other films where people actually give BIRTH to subsequently nutso/demented children would keep everyone from having kids. It is a movie, folks. If you are not old enough to distinguish between fiction and reality (like, under six) perhaps you should not see it. But mature adults (the only kind who should adopt, anyway) will not be running, screaming from adoption agencies due to this movie. And BTW, I am the mother of an adopted child who thought the movie was well done, if you like this particular genre.

  65. Colleen says:

    True; it is only a movie but I do agree that it could persuade people to not adopt; I’m not trying to give anything about..just simply saying that that this movie makes you realize that adoption agencies could very well overlook some things, as to the child’s history.

  66. ??? says:

    Well I was adoped into my family d years ago so when I was nine and I my friends mum gave it to us as a christmas joke and before you all get into a huff about it the families have been friends for years it was funny and me and my mum watched it and at the start I totally got how she felt and then I realised she was evil and it made me laugh I loved the movie and so did my family my nickname is now ester I even went as her for halloween so if I don’t have a problem neither should you

  67. grace says:

    I think this movie is kind of based on the psychological aspects of a child with severe reactive attachment disorder, who has been so neglected/abused their brain never develops normally and they have no empathy/emotional understandings, and are so numb with pain they act full of rage even though on the surface can be charming and overly affectionate with strangers. I think the story about the 7 year old boy from russia that was returned on a plane by his adoptive mother is another example. People see the american parents and say “what a terrible person, you’re just claiming the kid has mental issues” but it really can be horrific/intolerable for severe rare cases. This movie is kind of shallow because they make her look like a evil little girl, but as with all psychologically damaged people, child abuse are the environmental factors that shape the childs emotional problems/extreme behavioral issues. I have to admit, this movie does make it discouraging to want to adopt an older child internationally, but I agree with the people who commented above who mentioned, then you’re not ready to adopt if something like this could discourage you. Older post institutionalized children are damaged and going to have some problems on the specturm, so if you’re planning to extend your family by adopting an older child and hoping they’ll come happy/healthy think again. But I’ve heard that the rewards of adopting one of these children are also immeasurable. I hope anyone who sees this movie and thinks its total fiction realized the concept is rooted from a terrifying reality, but its also very uncommon to be so extreme.