As an adoptive parent, I'm instinctively leery about movies that center on adoption or even touch on it. So often, Hollywood gets it wrong. It seems that adoption is either over-dramatized and turned into a worst-case scenario or it's romanticized and made out to be far easier and more perfect than real life allows. While The Odd Life of Timothy Green isn't even based in reality — after all, kids don't actually grow in the garden — it won my heart.
When I saw previews for The Odd Life of Timothy Green, I was my usual skeptical self. I did a bit of reading online and determined that the subject matter was too mature for my kids. At 4 and 5 years old and having been adopted, I knew that they weren't ready for it. On the other hand, I was very interested in seeing it myself. As a busy mom, that usually means one thing: Wait patiently for the DVD!
SheKnows' movie reviewer said The Odd Life of Timothy Green is "a modern day Pinocchio" that's perfect for "grade school day dreamers" and I'd agree completely. Given the tear factor, I'd suggest it for older elementary school kids, but I might just be on the sensitive side.
The movie is about Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton), a small town couple who wants desperately to have a biological baby. In the very beginning of the movie, we learn that their dreams will never become a reality. Naturally, their hearts are broken. As an adoptive parent, I have made many friends who have been through infertility and the pain the Green family portrays is a small snippet of what I've seen some friends experience, but they portray it well.
The old adage about making lemonade when life hands you lemons isn't always the best way to go. Sometimes, when life hands you lemons, you have to grieve your losses. And that's exactly what Cindy and Jim do. They sit down with a bottle of wine, a pencil and several pieces of paper, and their own raw hearts. They spend the evening writing down all of the qualities they imagine their child would have.
When they're done, they put the papers in a box and bury it in the garden, hoping to bring closure to the loss of a dream. However, during a big storm that night, something — or rather, someone — grows in the garden: A boy named Timothy.
Ten-year-old Timothy, the boy from the garden with leaves that grow on his legs, teaches Cindy and Jim what parenting is all about and what really makes a family. This, of course, is why the way in which my little family was formed made me feel connected to the movie.
I'm an adoption realist — I don't believe it's all sunshine; I believe being an adoptive family (and in our case, a transracial one) means there's another layer of complexity added to the regular old family stuff. I believe biology is important for kids and I respect that mine are unfortunately missing out on something because they weren't able to stay with their first families. But I believe that a huge part of what makes my family work is our love and commitment to one another.
So perhaps this is why I cried so much during The Odd Life of Timothy Green. I saw it as a reminder of the best parts of my family: How much I love my kids and how much I appreciate what they bring to my life every single day.
It might also be why my husband insisted, "Wow, it's dusty in this room! We need to do some deep cleaning because all of this dust is making my eyes water!" when it's not, in fact, dusty in our house!
We're not the only ones. A mom posted a funny video of her two boys to YouTube after they saw The Odd Life of Timothy Green. The two cute kids were bawling their little eyes. (Spoiler alert: You'll read a big part of the ending if you click over!)
While the way in which some issues pertaining to adoption didn't seem realistic to me — particularly the process — I absolutely loved the ending. It wasn't a typical Hollywood adoption story, in my opinion. If you're an adoptive parent, you might appreciate that.
I'd definitely recommend The Odd Life of Timothy Green. I'd just make sure to screen it first if you plan on showing it to younger or sensitive kids, probably anyone 9 or younger. No matter what, I'd suggest it to moms looking for a feel-good movie. I think it touches a place in any parent's heart. We love our kids so much and while we give everything to them, the lessons in life that they teach us are immeasurable.
Watch this exclusive bonus clip from The Odd life of Timothy Green and catch a glimpse of this feel-good (and possibly tear-inducing) family movie.
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