What An 'Annie' Remake Means To Me As Someone Who Was Adopted

With yet another Annie remake making its way to theaters, and starring Quvenzhane Wallis, who may be by far the cutest girl ever after me when I was the cutest girl ever, you can be sure I’ll see it. I have seen both the 1982 and 1999 films, preferring Victor Garber to Albert Finney as the beloved Daddy Warbucks, but the original Annie, Aileen Quinn, to Alicia Morton. However, while the songs are of course one of the best parts of the film (even today, my brother and I sing It’s a hard knock life in unison when we’re having a bad day) the main message behind Annie means a lot more to me than it might to others.

When people first meet me, I often see the confused look on their faces as they glance back and forth between me and my family members, unsure as to why I’m Asian and they’re white. I typically have to tell them the answer before they ask the question to spare them the torture of having to feel uncomfortable doing it. I’m adopted. My parents adopted me in Indonesia when I was only an infant, and unlike an Annie character, was fortune enough not to remember my time in an orphanage. Although I enjoy the movie and understand that it is meant to provide comedic relief through characters like Miss Hannigan, Rooster Hannigan and Lily St. Regis, it’s upsetting for me to think that in fact, situations like that of Annie’s are quite similar to this at many an orphanage.

I have watched the news, seen the documentaries and heard the personal stories about how difficult it is to adopt a child nationally, let alone internationally. Sadly, the adoptions of international children have taken a steady decline over the past several years. It’s not that people don’t want to adopt children, but it’s that the foreign regulations are often so strict and it can take some families years just to take their child home with them, especially if from the United States. We see Daddy Warbucks adopt Annie without any hassle, not including the elaborate plan Miss Hannigan concocts tricking Annie into believing her parents are alive. Though the adoption takes place within America, much more goes into it than signing some documents.

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Although we can say, “it’s just a movie,” and tell me not to take it too seriously, it’s important to understand that things like this actually occur throughout the world and at a much larger scale. When a Russian child died after being adopted by a Virginia family some years go, Russia banned Americans from adopting their orphans, even when numerous families already had papers in the works and been through the process for so long.

Sadly, the end of Annie is quite unrealistic when we see all of Annie’s orphan friends gather at Daddy Warbucks’ mansion where President Roosevelt is attending a dinner party in both movies. We always assume while watching the movie that they live happily ever after and have been adopted at the end of the movie, yet unfortunately their fate likely wasn’t the same. I hate to be depressing, but I’m also just being realistic.

Similarly, in the upcoming Annie movie starring Wallis, Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz among others, we see a wealthy politician trying to start a relationship with an orphan to help him in his race for mayor, which is a major plot twist compared to the two former movies. Clearly, this is going to end well because why in the world would you want to spin a movie like this in a negative light, but keep in mind that it’s probably not uncommon for scenarios like this to happen. I’m sure that orphans are often used for another person’s gain whether it be for politics or something else.

However, the sentiment is clearly there and I appreciate the concept that was created, making it so that a wealthy man, who typically despises children, establishes a deep bond with little orphan Annie. Truly, we should all aspire to be like the Daddy Warbucks we meet toward the end of the movie and open our hearts to the idea of adoption. I know that kind of salary I have in the future (which isn’t exactly promising wanting to be a journalist), I’ll find a way to adopt so that another child doesn’t have to live his or her life without a family.

Being so close to my parents, my brother and even all my relatives, I often forget that I’m adopted and have to step back and recognize how lucky I am that I never had to experience the struggles of growing up as an orphan. The message of Annie is so clear and simple and I hope that more find the importance in this movie. Who knows? Maybe after watching this third version of the film, someone will find it in himself or herself to travel the world to meet their next son or daughter. Someone somewhere is probably singing their own version of The Sun Will Come Out, hoping others will hear their song.


Image: Columbia