Baby boomers had Superman and Batman; kids today have Spiderman and Harry Potter, fictional characters who have been inspiring children through comics and film for years. And they’re inspiring because they come from broken families.

The kids who transformed their lives from abandoned to amazing. The kids who wanted to change their circumstances, make the world a better place, make others feel safe, loved, protected – all the things that they had missed in their childhood…

In fact when we look closely at our favourite Disney classics, fairy tales and comics, etc. there is a trend to one key factor to what helps build a superhero.

The poster boys and girls of broken families

• Princess Elsa, estranged from her sister Princess Anna, parents killed at sea.

• Harry Potter, parents killed by evil wizard Lord Voldemort.

• Batman, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson (Robin), parents’ murders turned them to fighting crime.

• Mowgli of The Jungle Book, lost by his parents and raised by wolves.

• Superman, sent to earth without his parents from his doomed home planet, adopted by new parents.

• Tarzan, raised by apes after deaths of parents.

• Cindrella, raised by her Step Mother and Sisters.

• Nemo, Nemos Mother passes away, leaving him in a single father family.

• Cinderella, orphaned left to live with her step family.

• Spiderman, orphaned brought up by his grandparents.

• Wolverine, abandoned by parents for being a mutant.

• Snow White, orphaned by the death of her father the King.

• James Bond, orphaned by the death of both of his parents in an accident.

But as parents, we too have real-life characters who also changed their life and touched others and can inspire us. And this is where you might really be amazed.  Just like our favorite fictional heroes, some of the most influential people of our time, the innovators, the leaders, the peacemakers, the inventors, the philosophers also shared the same gift – abandonment….

  • Steve Jobs – Adopted at birth
  • Nelson Mandela – Fostered and Adopted
  • Martin Luther King Jnr – Fostered and Adopted
  • Marilyn Monroe – Fostered and Adopted
  • John Lennon – Adopted as a child
  • Mark Twain – adopted at birth
  • Bill Clinton – Adopted at birth
  • Jaime Foxx – Adopted as a child

What defines abandonment? Any one who at any point of their life felt left behind, left out or excluded.  Yes, orphans, foster, adoption and death are extreme ways to experience abandonment.  But children who experience divorce, separation, and long distance parenting also experience abandonment on some level.  And it is important that these children, or even children turn adults know that this is all part of their story to be a superhero…By watching their favourite characters, actors and celebrities they can be inspired to follow in the footsteps of these other abandoned people who have revolutionised the world…

The most important message – is that just because you or your children have experienced a broken family, or felt abandoned and unloved in some way it does not mean that you have failed.  In fact, it means you have an opportunity to redefine what family means to you, who you want in your life to ‘act’ as family and most important gives you a chance for reinvention.  And reinvention is as powerful as any other superhero power!

Nelson Mandela-There is no passion found playing small


Some tips for Parents

  • EDUCATE – Books! Growing up I was actually told I was adopted through a children’s picture book called “Why was I adopted.” They help children to understand why, and help them recognise the different start to their life, and why they are special.
  • COMMUNICATE – Openness – children are curious.  I would constantly ask my Adoptive mother questions about adoption.  Try not to take curious questions personally, and try to remain open and honest.  Your children will appreciate it when they are older.
  • LOVE – Accept – accept your childs journey through adoption.  And never fear about your relationship with them – you are raising them, you will always be thought of as their mother or father even if you are not blood. Your relationship with them is sacred.
  • INSPIRE – you are an inspiration for adopting or fostering a child.  You gave a child love, hope and a second chance! Inspire others to do the same, there are so many children in this world with no home.  Everyone deserves the presence of love in their life.

For Adopted Kids

  • KNOW – Know that you are special.  You were chosen by your new parents, not unwanted by your old ones.  You are part of a very big family full of successful leaders, innovators and inventors who also started their life with abandonment.
  • INSPIRE – Surround yourself with inspiration.  Learn about others who have walked in your shoes and the things that they have achieved.  Focus on your goals, dreams and aspirations and know that you can achieve great things!
  • GRATITUDE – Thank the people around you who are helping you, loving you and inspiring you. Let them know you appreciate what they do for you.  Let them know how they have changed your life.
  • GIVE THANKS – Realise that life could have been different.  You should never feel hard done by, sorry for yourself, or left behind because you were lucky enough to get chosen to be put into a family, with a roof and loving people to help you grow! Be grateful for your journey through adoption.

In New Zealand there are a few communities that support people affected by adoption. Try out the following:

For more expert advice on blended families check out Making a family.

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Emma Mildon is an author and columnist who specialises in adoption, foster, orphans and inspiration. Yes…they are all linked and Emma writes about them all on her website -

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Audra Stuck

Do it……….. nothing you do in life will bring you more satisfaction, more unconditional love or more wonder, She is our everything and lives life to the fullest no holds barred…. she amazes us everyday with her determination to be all she can be. She is only 7 !!

Emma Mildon

She sounds awesome! And you too sound like an amazing parent! I brought my adoptive parents love…and pain (but those came more in the teenage years!) haha It sounds like your little one is lots of fun!

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