Adoptive Parents Say 'Orphan' Exploits Fears
Warner Bros. says it "messed up," yanking offensive language.
May 29, 2009— -- When Amy Eldridge recently dropped off her adopted daughter at an Oklahoma City movie theater for a birthday party, she was horrified by one larger-than-life poster on the wall behind the group of gathering 10-year-olds.
The promotional poster, from the upcoming teen horror film, "Orphan," featured a maniacal child, which, according to the synopsis, wreaks havoc in her adoptive home, attacking her new parents and siblings in a blood-thirsty rampage.
But what upset Eldridge the most was the line in the film's trailer, "It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own."
(The film is rated R, so the trailer is only shown before movies that also have the same rating, which excludes those under 17.)
Since the ad campaign began this week adoptive parents and groups have barraged the film company Warner Brothers with complaints, saying the film taps into unfounded fears about adoption.
For Eldrige's adopted daughter, Anna, who was abandoned by her biological parents in China before being adopted by non-Asian parents, the question about who she is and where she comes from comes up among her elementary school peers.
And when a boy at the birthday party teased her after seeing the movie poster, her mother knew it was time for another one of those talks.
"Third grade has been a very hard year," Anna told her mother, who is the executive director of adoption non-profit, Love Without Boundaries.
"We get it, everyone loves a scary movie," said Rita Soronen, executive director of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
"But it's dangerous when we perpetuate the myths of children in foster care and orphans," she told ABCNews.com. "It makes it harder to give kids the homes they need."
Scott Rowe, senior vice president of communications for Warner Brothers, admitted the company, "messed up" in promotions for the film, which is due out in July.
Warner Brothers was besieged with complaints from parents and organizations that deal with adoption, foster care and orphans who were troubled by the story line of a deranged and homicidal child.
Speaking out in blogs, listserves and in phone calls and letters to the movie executives, adoptive parents say the trailer is especially offensive.
"They were right," Rowe told ABCNews.com. "Their complaints resonated with us."
Rowe said the company is moving "as quick as possible" to remove the offending line from the film's marketing materials.
Viewers will continue to see the trailer in movie theaters alongside another horror flick, "Drag Me to Hell," but "it could take a couple of jobs to cycle through," he said.