Saturday, June 18, 2016

Famous Fictional Adoptees: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I've been learning a lot more about the reality of adoption as Alana and I go through it ourselves. This got me examining how it is portrayed by popular culture and, because I am a huge nerd, this got me wondering about which of my favorite characters were adopted. So for the foreseeable future I am going to be blogging about famous fictional adoptees and their parents. I'm going to try to shoot for once a week, but if it ever gets popular I may do it more often. That way this blog gets some fresh content and maybe we all learn a little bit more about how our society portray adoption. Since they just had a new movie come out recently, lets start with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

As a kid I loved the Turtles. I haven't read the original comic book that they came from yet, but I watched the original 80s cartoon, played the NES game and saw the movies that featured the guys in the rubber suits. I enjoyed the CGI film that came out in college, but I have to admit I haven't see any of the recent cartoons/films. There is no denying that the entire premise of mutated turtles who learned martial arts from a mutated rat (or a human mutated into a giant, walking rat...the continuity is sort of muddled) and fought crime was incredibly absurd, but it was still fun as a kid. And while the original cartoon was in many ways just an excuse to sell toys, it occasionally got a good lesson across, like the importance of family. All in all, there were a lot worse things I could have been watching.

Speaking of family, its pretty obvious that the Turtles were all adopted by Splinter. Its not a traditional adoption that Alana and I are going through, but it still is an adoption. It is of course unconventional, considering its one mutated being adopting another, but its even more unconventional when you consider who the parent is. Splinter isn't just a single parent, he is a single father adopting more than one child. That is an eyebrow raiser even in today's society.

Some preliminary research I did showed me that there are many states that only allow married couples to adopt and even in states that do allow single people to adopt, most men don't do it. Its not unheard of, however, just check out this story on NPR about Brian Tessier who adopted two children through foster care. Meanwhile, recent studies show single people are more likely to consider adoption as way to start a family outside of the traditional get married and have kids formula. Men also have a "biological clock" so the speak and adoption could be seen as an option for men who really want to be dad, but can't find that certain someone.

This makes Splinter and the Turtles ahead of their time when it comes to family dynamics. Additionally, Splinter is a good father. He is wise and has good moral compass. He can be serious at times, but he also knows when a good laugh is needed. Granted you can argue giving teenagers weapons and telling them to go and fight ninjas, robots and creatures from other dimensions is child endangerment...but child superheroes are a popular trope that most people are okay with to an extent (and their are plenty of those people were adopted, but we will get to them later).

Also what about the Turtles' relationships with each other? As far as I can tell there is no hard evidence confirming they came from the same turtle parents, but they are still brothers. They were raised by the same father and taught they were family. This is something you rarely, if ever, see them question. The fact that they are not blood relatives does not break their family bonds. That is pretty cool lesson to teach kids, even if it was unintentional. Family isn't always who you are related to genetically. Its who choose to be part of your family. I hope Alana and I get a chance to do the same soon.

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