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Here are tips to get through the movie moments that make you want to throw popcorn at the screen:

  1. Let your child react. If he's uncomfortable with what he hears on screen, don't shush him. Have a couple of back-and-forth whispers, acknowledge his feelings, and ask if he wants to leave. When we went to a screening of Country Bears, my normally even-tempered daughter was visibly stirred by a nasty remark about adoption. She promptly agreed when asked if she wanted to walk out. It was a good lesson in civic protest.

  2. After the film, address the issue. On the bus ride home from Country Bears, I suggested to my daughter that we write to Disney to tell them what they got wrong.

  3. Give a heads-up. Let other adoptive parents know when you've seen something even mildly offensive. Some years back, in an episode of The Wild Thornberries—normally an innocuous Nickelodeon program—a cartoon character made a wisecrack about adoption. Boy, were they inundated with mail. They pulled the episode.

  4. What if she doesn't react? If your child seems unmoved by something that makes your head explode, ask yourself whether she's suppressing something. If the remark doesn't bother her, leave it alone. You may want to get your ya-yas out by writing a letter, but keep it to yourself. If you're certain that she's stuffing it, broach the subject in what I call a "by-the-way" moment. Say something like, "By the way, I wondered what you thought about that scene in...?" After she responds, tell her what you didn't like, and why. You might be putting away dishes together or doing a treasure hunt in your jewelry box, but this type of gentle sideswiping can open the door to important discussions.
    Memo to the Screenwriters Guild: Don't mess with the adopted kid. His parents bite.

    Susan Avery is an adoptive mother, the Kids Editor at New York magazine, and a regular freelancer for The New York Times.

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