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Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – Movie Review

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Synopsis the Cover of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse by Sony Pictures:

“Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative minds behind The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, bring their unique talents to a fresh vision of a different Spider-Man Universe, with a groundbreaking visual style that’s the first of its kind. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales, and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where more than one can wear the mask.”



Movie Info:


Grade:

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Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 3 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]


Transfiguring Adoption Thoughts:

This movie follows the life of teen, Miles Morales, as he is trying to find his identity while navigating various changes including becoming the new web-slinging Spider-Man. The film takes hip hop music and a new style of animation along with an engaging storyline to weave together a tale which undoubtedly had many people running to the box office.

As with most movie this piece was not created specifically for use for foster and adoptive families. However, it does pose topics which could bring about healthy conversations for upper middle-schoolers or even high school students.


** Spoilers Could Be Ahead **


How Is This Relevant To Adoption & Foster Care?

While the main character, Miles Morales, lives with his birth family, he still struggles with finding his identity as he is no longer attending public school where he is well-known and loved. Instead the teen is attending a seemingly more challenging private boarding school where he appears to be at the bottom of the popularity barrel. In the midst of trying to figure out his “normal” teenage identity Miles is bitten by a radioactive spider and must factor his forming superpowers into the identity equation.

Many children coming from the foster care system or adoption struggle with the issue of identity. The topic of identity can be complex but this movie can help you to broach this topic with your child.


Discussion Points:

  • Role Models
    Forming relationships and having good role models can be tricky for anyone. Children from foster care and adoption backgrounds, who may find themselves struggling with good self-esteem or in the midst of long-lasting, stable relationships, can tend to throw themselves into any relationship which gives them attention. This might mean a child has a one-sided friendship with someone at school who is using them for a selfish purpose or a child may befriend someone who is making unhealthy/unsafe choices as long as they are getting the attention they crave.
    In this movie Miles Morales feels as though he cannot connect with a father who, in Miles’ eyes, is squashing his talents and identity. Instead, Miles finds more of a kindred spirit with his uncle, who makes questionable life choices but shows an interest in Miles and encourages his talents.
    This movie will allow you to talk with your child about the qualities they should look for in a role model, a friend, etc.
  • Loss
    Children who have been through the foster care or adoption process have undoubtedly experienced loss in their life. Reliving the emotions of this experience is naturally traumatic and triggering for hyper-vigilant behaviors.
    This film portrays several characters explaining the loss or death of a loved one. In each case the loss was traumatic for the character. This includes the death of one of the Spider-man characters as well as the death of the main character’s uncle.
    As your child’s stable caregiver, it will be up to you to ascertain whether this type of movie will be triggering for your child or not. After watching the film, it would definitely be good to be available to discuss the loss of a loved one with your child.
  • Friends
    As discussed above in the “Role Models” section, it can be difficult for children from foster care and adoptive backgrounds to form healthy relationships when they were forced into a world of instability.
    In this film Miles struggles with leaving his familiar school and territory to attend a private school where he is the odd duck. Through the course of the storyline Miles is able to meet various people who are going through the same experiences as himself and thusly, understand him.
    After watching this movie, it would be worth talking to your child about the qualities that both of you saw in the movie that made for good friendships.
  • Identity
    Many children from foster care and adoption find it a challenge to piece together their identity when they find they have information missing from their life story.
    Throughout the movie Miles is attempting to discover his identify through normal teenage trials. However, after becoming the new Spider-man, he is thrust into a situation where he is lacking a lot of knowledge and very few people can actually relate to his situation.
    This movie allows the opportunity for you to talk with you child about what “discovering identity,” even means. You may also take a look at the movie together to see how Miles figures out his identity.

Cautionary Points:

  • Loss and Death
    Your foster or adoptive child has experienced loss in their life. The characters in this film will talk about the death of loved ones and the audience will experience the main character witnessing the death of his uncle – not to mention the death of the a Spider-man character at the beginning of the film. We suggest watching this movie before your child if you know that death or characters experiencing loss will trigger your child about their own past loss.
  • Superhero Violence & Fighting
    Naturally, a superhero movie is going to feature heroes and villains fighting. However, some children from traumatic backgrounds may have a difficult time separating reality from fiction. Parents may want to view this movie prior to their children if they know their child is prone to acting aggressively or gets overly ramped up from seeing fighting/violence in movies.
    Also, it is worth noting that any scenes that may get adrenaline pumping can signal your child’s body to unconsciously remember past trauma that also may have cause a good flow of adrenaline.
  • Portrayals of Delinquent Behavior
    While most children will be able to pull away from this movie understanding that it was fictitious and created for entertainment purposes, it is worth noting that the main character and hero does partake in such actions as defacing public property, sneaking out of the house, and defying his parent’s wishes.

Buy From Our Links and Support Transfiguring Adoption:


It’s Your Turn:

  1. How would you describe Miles at the beginning of the movie? At the end of the movie?
  2. How was Uncle Aaron a good role model? A bad role model?
  3. How as alternate universe Peter Parker a good role model? A bad role model?
  4. Every spider-being lost someone close to them.
    How did losing her best friend affect Gwen? How did Peter’s loss affect him? How did Miles’ loss affect him?
  5. Why were Gwen, Peter and Miles seemingly able to become friends so quickly?
  6. Miles snuck out of his dorm to visit his Uncle Aaron even though he knew it was against the school rules and he knew his parents wouldn’t want him to. He really seemed to need to talk to his Uncle though.
    Did Miles make a good choice or a bad choice going to visit his uncle? Why do you think that?

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What Foster and Adoptive Parenting Does to Your Body

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For six months out of 2017, Darren and I, Margie, had a total of six kids we were parenting who, between them, had multiple needs which required us to be in a stage of constant high alert. We were never able to fully relax when children were around, which was pretty much always. In December, two of them moved on to a different home, and we realized just what a toll those six months had taken on our body. For almost two weeks, we felt a constant desire to sleep. As we were able to let our guard down just slightly, our bodies let us know that they did not appreciate the beating they had taken over those six months.


What Happened to Us?!

Parenting is stressful, but parenting children who have experienced complex trauma, and who need high levels of supervision as a result, leads to parents being in a constant state of high alert. If this goes on for an extended period of time, the caregivers begin to have some of the same physical and emotional responses that have occurred in their children.

What are some physical and emotional issues seen in caregivers?

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Secondary PTSD
    Foster children are nearly twice as likely to develop PTSD than active combat veterans. Caregivers can experience prolonged exposure to the traumas their children have endured, or experience several traumas themselves related to fostering or adopting, and begin to show symptoms of PTSD such as intrusive thoughts, negative thoughts and feelings, avoiding reminders of trauma, and symptoms of being on high alert.
  • Compassion Fatigue
    Caring for a child who has experienced trauma over a long period of time can be very heartbreaking and emotionally challenging. If you have started to lose compassion for your child’s history, you may be experiencing compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue symptoms include chronic physical and emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, feelings of inequity toward the therapeutic or caregiver relationship, irritability, feelings of self-contempt, difficulty sleeping, weight loss, headaches, and of course, decreased compassion.
  • Depression
    Caregivers can begin to feel hopeless and helpless about their child’s situation, healing, behavior, or growth.
  • Anxiety
    Parenting comes with an endless list of things to worry over, and fostering or adopting can add more weight or items to that list.
  • Irritability
    Ongoing stress, continuous sensory input (nonsense chatter, constant loud noise, etc.) coming from a traumatized child, constant battles with health, education, or government systems to advocate for a child, and so much more start to wear on foster and adoptive parents leaving them irritable, overly emotional, or short-tempered.
  • Health problems
    Higher, sustained levels of stress lower the body’s immune system, resulting in more frequent illness. It can cause weight gain, heart disease, body aches, fatigue, nervousness, sleep disturbances, digestive problems, and other physical issues.
  • Withdrawal
    Withdrawal is common among caregivers. It could be due to a lack of energy, lack of time, or an inability to relate any longer to others in their social circles. Sometimes it’s because it is too difficult to go anywhere with children who are triggered by situations outside of the home environment. Caregivers at times will withdraw themselves emotionally in their home as well due to a lack of reciprocity from the child, and they begin to feel more like they are just fulfilling job duties instead of being a nurturing parent figure.
  • Isolation
    While withdrawal is often a choice of an individual, isolation results from those around someone removing themselves from the individual’s life. It may be that friends with children begin to stay away as fears creep in that being around your child will negatively impact their children. Maybe folks stop hanging around because there is sometimes a lot of drama involved with fostering and adopting. Yet others begin to question caregivers because they don’t see the same behaviors that the parents see at home, and out of lack of knowledge about trauma and attachment, they begin to suspect the caregivers are the problem.
  • Hypervigilance
    Do you seem to constantly be at a heightened state of alert? Do you jump at every sound and run to investigate? Does any movement out of the corner of your eye cause you to twirl around to check for safety? This is all very common in traumatized children, but caregivers often start to respond the same way, even when the children aren’t around.

Many of these conditions overlap, some are symptoms of others, and they are all on a spectrum from mild to severe. Will all foster and adoptive parents develop these symptoms? No, but many will have some degree of some of the aforementioned physical and emotional responses. It depends greatly on the needs of the children in a home, the intensity of the needs, and the number and ages of the children.

What reduces these impacts?

When caregivers experience these negative impacts on their well-being, their parenting and relationships with children and others are adversely affected. What can caregivers do to minimize negative effects on their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing?

  1. Seek therapeutic help.
    Caregivers of children who have experienced trauma often find that traumas they experienced and thought they had dealt with are triggered by their interactions with their children. Finding a therapist who is well-versed in trauma can be helpful in processing past trauma in order to find healing and be available to parent better. Other times it is necessary to find a therapist to help talk through difficulties in parenting a child and gain insight into the child’s behavior and how to parent more effectively.
  2. Find support groups locally or online or find an experienced mentor to walk alongside you on your journey of parenting.
    While talking to friends and family can sometimes be encouraging, finding others who are experiencing similar triumphs and challenges through fostering or adopting provides the validation and information needed for success.
  3. Develop a stronger support system.
    Think about areas in your life in which you could use help in order to free up your mind, time, and energy for caring for your children. Is there a volunteer (or paid if budget allows) tutor who could take the added pressure of helping your child academically off your shoulders so you can focus on relationships? Is there someone who can pitch in with carpooling? Can a friend help you prepare food in bulk and freeze it for easy dinners? Many churches and communities are developing ‘wrap-around services’ where they find and train folks to do these types of things for foster and adoptive families. Each family has a team around them, and each team member is responsible for a different area of the family’s life (childcare, food, housework, encouragement or prayer, carpooling, etc.) Reach out if you need help!
  4. Practice self-care.
    I have yet to find a caregiver who has nailed this well consistently. It helps to be creative. It’s not always chocolate, wine, or a bubble bath. What “fills your cup” so to speak and energizes and revitalizes you? The tendency for caregivers is to neglect themselves to the point that nothing fills them up any longer, and they become less and less effective or therapeutic in their parenting, resulting in a damaged, resentful relationship with the child(ren).
  5. Celebrate and recognize small victories and changes with your child to combat depression, anxiety, and other negative emotions.

Often caregivers wait until they have reached their limit before seeking help or taking a new course of action. Being proactive at the first signs of trouble will help reduce chances of consequences like placement disruption or other major impacts to the family’s wellbeing.

We are here for you! Join other parents in the trenches during our [Monday Caregiver CheckIn] live each week on Facebook at 8pm EST!

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Now It’s Your Turn:

Think about these questions and possibly discuss them with a co-caregiver, trusted friend, or a professional, OR begin a discussion here with other caregivers.

  1. Have you experienced any of the negative impacts listed above through foster or adoptive parenting?
  2. Is there any negative impacts we failed to mention?
  3. What have you found helpful in reducing negative effects on your wellbeing?
  4. What steps can you take increase your wellbeing and your relationship with your child?

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Creative Therapies for Complex Trauma – Book Review

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From the Cover of Creative Therapies for Complex Trauma: Helping Children and Families in Foster Care, Kinship Care or Adoption edited by Anthea Hendry and Joy Hasler:

“A burgeoning evidence base supports that arts, play and other creative therapies have potential to help children in care to recover from complex trauma. Written by contributors working at the cutting edge of delivering effective therapeutic interventions, this innovative book describes models for working with children in foster care, kinship care or adoption and presents a range of creative therapeutic approaches spanning art psychotherapy, music therapy and dance therapy.”


Grade:
For Families

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Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 4 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]

For Professionals

5 hoots out of 5

Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 5 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a professionals interacting with or treating foster or adopted children.


What Our Family Thought:

The target audience appears to be therapists, school personnel, and other professionals seeking to help children recover from complex trauma. Edited by professionals in the United Kingdom, this book focuses on therapeutic interventions in the UK but touches on their counterparts used in the United States. As someone who has a degree in psychology, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and its case vignettes. It gives background to theoretical developments in complex trauma and attachment as well the creative therapies used in treatment, their histories, effectiveness, and evidence base. It highlights the need for interdisciplinary interventions and teams of all involved adults working together to help children. This is an academic book which assumes at least some working knowledge in attachment, trauma, psychopathology, and psychotherapy.

We highly recommend this book to professionals in the field who interact with or treat foster or adopted children. This book would also be helpful to caregivers who are seeking to learn more about creative treatment options which may be available to their children.


Buy From Our Links and Support Transfiguring Adoption:


It’s Your Turn:

  1. Have your children taken part in therapies which were ineffective for them?
  2. What therapy would you like to try for your child?
  3. Has your child experienced success with any creative therapies? If so, what therapy was helpful?

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