If you’re like me, the week between Xmas and New Years is a great time to catch up on movies! As the producer of Finding family, I’m watching as many films about fostering as possible. Recently I watched Martian Child (director Menno Meyjes, 2007)
A single man foster-adopts a child. The child has convinced himself that he is originally from Mars and was sent to earth to perform some unspecified mission. To the child, Dennis, it is easier to believe that he is from another planet than to cope with the reality that his parents abandoned him.
Being from Mars also gives Dennis a good reason for not fitting in at school. For example, he walks around underneath a cardboard box with a slit cut for his eyes as a form of sun protection. Dennis also wears a weight belt (made of batteries and duct tape) to keep himself from drifting up into the sky. Unrelated to being from Mars, but also a challenge for a parent, Dennis also has a habit of stealing other people’s belongings.
The film sets up a realistic struggle for the new foster dad. In addition to trying to help his foster son fit in at school, the father struggles with getting Dennis to accept reality, and eat something other than Lucky Charms cereal. The regularly scheduled CPS reviews are stressful and the foster dad becomes afraid that his son will be moved to a yet another family. Not only will he loose the opportunity to adopt his son, but Dennis will be traumatized by yet another move. (Dennis, like many foster children, equates being moved out of one home and placed into another as a rejection.)
Although all issues are resolved quickly the 106 minute film, I appreciated the care that was taken to set up a difficult situation and play out some realistic challenges such as school expulsion, running away, and the potential for CPS to move the child to a new home.