I’ve been contemplating writing this blog about the story of the Wizard of Oz and how it relates to adoption for over a year now. I just didn’t know how I could correlate the symbolism in the movie and verbally express the metaphysical aspects of the deeper meaning. I will admit, I am not the first person to take this movie and create my own unique theoretical version. I’ll explain more.
I’m sure like all of you; I’ve seen this movie many times over the years. I’ve matured with Dorothy and her child-like ways and began to see deeper meanings every time I watched it year after year. And each time Dorothy wakes up, I wonder again, was it all real or was it only a dream. That’s creative writing and film making at its best.
A few years back, I was introduced to a new Wizard of Oz story by a Unity Minister, Rev Ellen Debenport. A friend of mine, Tori, who I knew from another Unity church, had told me about the OZ series that Rev. Ellen, the associate minister at the time, was doing at our sister church in Dallas. It sounded very interesting and I had a thirst for more.
After the first night, I was hooked. Rev Ellen explained the Wizard of Oz movie and each character in a way I had never contemplated before, which left me with a number of “ah-ha” moments. Of all the sermons I have heard over the years from the many different ministers, this is by far my favorite. Here is the link, if anyone would like to hear more about Rev Ellen’s series. OZ: Over the Rainbow
They’re really so many ways to interpret the Wizard of Oz. While my version is quite different from Rev Ellen’s, who I truly believe is far more talented and skilled in the field of writing and speaking for that matter, I found my own theories with uncanny similarities between this movie and adoption. Ones that kept creeping into my mind.
So what does the Wizard of Oz have to do with adoption? Well, we know Dorothy is an adoptee. That’s the obvious. But here are some other things you may not have thought about while viewing this epic movie. Let’s take a journey into OZ…
At the very beginning of the movie, Dorothy seems to be in trouble. After a brief spat, Dorothy runs away from the people who love her. She senses their disappointed. After she cools off a bit, she tries to return home but now a storm (turmoil) has ascended upon their tiny town and Dorothy along with Toto are whisked away and transported into an alternate universe. When she awakens in the Land of OZ, the munchkins, who are singing with great joy, are very pleased with Dorothy. Her house has landed on the Wicked Witch of the East who had apparently wreaked havoc on their community. They feel as though Dorothy has just saved them.
Symbolically, the munchkins could represent children in an orphanage who were used for labor or trafficked for money.
Within a few minutes, we have a good witch, a dead witch and a wicked witch. One witch is there to help Dorothy and one is there to destroy her. The Wicked Witch of the West looks wrathfully at Dorothy and asks, “Who killed the Witch of the East?”
If we look at unplanned pregnancies during the time of this movie (the beginning of the Baby Scoop Era) we see the innocence of the young Dorothy as she tries to explain, “It was an accident.” She did not intend for this to happen. The Wicked Witch of the West is unsympathetic towards Dorothy and tries to shame her for what has happened. But interesting enough, not everyone agrees that this incident is a bad or shameful event.
Doesn’t that sound like life in general? Especially when an unexpected pregnancy occurs? I can tell you from personal experience, I had both fans and foes when my unplanned pregnancy was made known.
After the accident, Glenda, the Good Witch, quickly places the ruby slippers on Dorothy’s feet. Dorothy has been given a precious gift. Metaphorically, the ruby slippers could represent a conceived child.
Now even angrier, the Wicked Witch of the West tries to take the slippers but the shoes zap her. She is unable to forcefully remove the slippers from Dorothy’s feet. This is the part of freewill and choice. Dorothy has to freely give up the shoes. Coercion is not far behind, as we listen to the Wicked Witch of the West impart fear and doubt into Dorothy’s mind when she tells Dorothy to give her the ruby slippers because she is the only one who truly knows how to use them.
If you listen closely, you can hear how similar that sounds like an adoption agency rep telling a frightened pregnant woman that the agency is better equipped to decide the future of this expectant child or that someone else is better equipped to parent her child then she is.
What’s interesting to me, that I never really noticed before writing this, is how neutral the Good Witch, Glenda is. She is neither happy nor angry. She shows little emotion of approval or disapproval of what has occurred. She is almost God-like. She acknowledges the power of the ruby slippers and tells Dorothy how special they must be.
Isn’t every child truly special, no matter the circumstance?
When the Wicked Witch of the West tries to threaten Glenda, she quickly responds without fear, “Rubbish, you have no power here. Be gone before somebody drops a house on you.” That statement always made me feel good. She was fearless.
Dorothy must have felt safe standing by her side. Wouldn’t it be great if we all could tell anyone who tried to bully or threaten us to “be gone, you have no power here.”
However, the mood quickly changes just before the Wicked Witch of the West leaves, as she threatens Dorothy one more time and tells her that she will get Dorothy and her little dog too. She makes it clear that she will not stop until she has possession of those ruby slippers.
I wonder how Dorothy would have made out if she didn’t have Toto or Glenda when all that occurred. Would the story have turned out the same? We’re pretty certain that the munchkins wouldn’t have been much help since they were cowering down the whole time the Wicked Witch of the West was there. Would Dorothy have been strong enough to fight against the Wicked Witch of the West alone?
Dorothy makes her plea to Glenda that her only wish is to get back home to Kansas.
The story takes a very interesting turn and becomes focused on two primary things; the ruby slippers and getting back home to Kansas. Everything else is based around those two primary themes. Dorothy wants to get back home and the Wicked Witch of the West desperately wants the ruby slippers. The Wicked Witch of the West has to get those slippers before Dorothy leaves OZ and returns to her loved ones because she knows that once Dorothy leaves OZ, she will have no more chances of getting those ruby slippers.
Likewise, an adoption agency’s goal is to get the mother to relinquish before she leaves the hospital because they know that once a mother leaves the hospital with her child, she is less likely to willingly relinquish her parental rights.
Let’s face it. While most adoption agencies claim their clients are the vulnerable women who come to them with an unplanned pregnancy, their real clients are the paying customers. Really. Who are you going to accommodate in your business; the non-paying customer who also gets free services or the paying customer?
Glenda sends Dorothy on a new path alone down the yellow brick road, Although Glenda remains mostly out of site, she appears to watch over Dorothy while at the same time allowing Dorothy to make her own choices. She knows it will be Dorothy’s determination and faith that leads her back home to Kansas. But before Dorothy leaves, Glenda warns Dorothy to never let those ruby slippers off her feet or she “will be at the mercy” of the Wicked Witch of the West. That’s a powerful statement. Why would Dorothy be at the mercy of the Wicked Witch of the West when the only thing the Wicked Witch wanted was the ruby slippers in the first place?
That sounds like a warning to a birth mother to me. Ask a birth mother what happens after she relinquishes her parental rights. She is at the mercy of the adoption agency, sometimes the adoptive parents and of her choice. Most often she is at the mercy of her secrets, her emotions, and a lifetime of stages in grief and possibly regret.
At this point, young Dorothy with her ruby slippers is all alone with the exception of her dog, Toto. She is without her family’s support. And she is lost. But…the story has only just begun.