My family is a huge fan of Disney movies and dogs. After recently watching the Walt Disney movie 101 Dalmatians, I can see the similarities between scenes in the movie and adoption community experiences. These similarities aren’t that a lot of dalmatians are adopted at the end of the movie. Let’s be honest, no one family would adopt an additional 84 babies when they already had 17 at home. That is such a large number that it would be extremely overwhelming to take care of that many young children at one time. 

However, here are the eight ways adoption community experiences are similar to the Walt Disney movie 101 Dalmatians:

Adoption is Not Always Planned

At the beginning of the movie, Roger Radcliff is a workaholic with a regimented schedule. His only goal or plan for his life is to write and sell music. Roger’s life doesn’t exactly go according to his plan, thanks to his dalmatian dog, Pongo. Pongo wants more from life than watching his owner work all day. Not only does Roger end up married thanks to Pongo, but he also ends up with 101 dalmatian dogs to take care of. (That is so many dogs, but he seems happy about it.)

Like Roger, there are a lot of people in the adoption community whose life did not go according to plan. They did not plan to be a part of the adoption community from a young age. There are birth mothers and fathers who didn’t plan the pregnancy or want to place a child through adoption. Yet, when the unexpected pregnancy happened, they decided on adoption. There are couples who got married anticipating raising their biological children together only to realize they couldn’t have children after a while of trying. So, instead, they looked to adoption in order to realize their dream of raising a child together.

These are only two of many examples of how the adoption community is not one everyone plans to join. There are other stories and situations where the unexpected things of life lead someone to join the adoption community in one way or another. 

Just like it is for Roger, the unexpected can be a beautiful thing. Roger’s unexpected life experiences lead to his marriage with Anita, watching his dog find a mate and have puppies, welcoming even more puppies into his home, and becoming a father himself. 

In the adoption community, unexpected experiences can be beautiful as well. There are so many good things that can come from adoptions.  Friendships are made. Dreams are realized. Children are cared for by loving parents. Couples become parents. Birth parents are able to fulfill their dreams while knowing their child is being loved. The benefits of adoption can make a change in your original plan become a blessing. 

Adoptions Can Sometimes Save Children From Bad Situations

Those 99 puppies were in a very bad situation when they were with Horace and Jasper. They were being kept in a run-down house that could collapse at any moment. They were stolen or bought from their original home for a very evil and vile purpose. Their caretakers did not love them or want them. Instead, they planned to kill them and skin them. When those puppies are rescued, we all rejoice because we don’t want to see them turned into coats. 

Children do not face that same demise, but they are sometimes in a very bad situation. Their homes can be places of abuse, neglect, and torment. A parent can be heavily addicted to substances that impair their ability to love their child in the way the child deserves. Some parents do vile things to their children. It is hard to watch the puppies in the movie suffer, but the suffering shown in the movie is even less than what some children face every day.

When a child is adopted through the foster care system, they are often being rescued from a bad situation. When you adopt a foster child, you save them from all the hard and sometimes horrible things that could happen. Instead, you provide them with a nice stable environment to help them succeed and hopefully overcome the trauma they experienced before they came to your home. 

Help is Needed During an Adoption

When Pongo and Perdy are desperately searching for their stolen puppies, they activate the dog network. As they bark their communications with other dogs, the message about their stolen puppies travels all over the country, and every dog is on the lookout for them. That same network helps them locate their puppies and take them safely home. Tibbs, the Colonel, and everyone else along the way help take care of the puppies and bring them safely home.

Similarly, it is impossible to complete an adoption without a network of help. Many prospective adoptive parents reach out to family, friends, and anyone else willing to help them find a child to adopt. Likewise, there are adoption centers and other places that can help along the way. Just like it was impossible for Pongo and Perdy to find their puppies on their own, it is also impossible to complete an adoption on your own. 

Not Everyone is Going to be Happy About the Adoption

As the title of this section states, not everyone is always happy about adoption. In the movie, Cruella is very unhappy that she lost her future coat or rather puppies. She is not happy the puppies are in a safe and loving home because she is selfish and does not care about anyone else. This section is not written in any way to imply there are Cruellas in the adoption community. No, it is merely to observe that not everyone is happy when an adoption takes place. 

Sometimes birth parents are not happy their child is adopted, especially when it was not their choice. Even though the parents may have done something to lose custody of their child, they do not want their children to be adopted by different parents. Those are difficult adoptions, but the safety and welfare of the child are more important. 

There are other reasons people may not be happy about the adoption as well. Sometimes family members from the adoptive couple are worried about the impact of bringing a child with past trauma into their homes. There are biological parents and grandparents that are sad about the adoption. They may know adoption is the right choice, but that doesn’t take away their feelings of loss. Just like any situation in life, it is impossible to make everyone perfectly happy. 

Sometimes We Don’t Get What We Want

After watching 101 Dalmatians, I often wonder where the other puppies came from. I am sure some of them were purchased because that was Cruella’s original plan with Pongo and Perdy’s puppies; she wanted to purchase them. However, when that didn’t work out, she resorted to stealing them, and knowing she was willing to steal those puppies makes me have more questions. Were those the only puppies taken from their home, or were some of the other puppies stolen as well?

I really wish I had the answers to those questions because if other puppies were stolen, the movie should not have ended there. The movie should have shown the other puppies’ homes being found and them being safely delivered back to their loving families. Instead, the movie ends with Anita and Roger adopting all those puppies.

This reminded me that sometimes we don’t get what we want. Not everyone who wants to adopt a child this year will be able to do that. Not every mother will get to raise her child. Life doesn’t always work out the way we want. Sometimes it takes years for a couple to adopt a child, or sometimes a birth mother changes her mind about adoption at the last minute. There are so many things that can happen to prevent people from getting what they want in the adoption community. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean we give up. Pongo and Perdy kept trying to find their puppies, and I don’t think they would have given up until they found them. An adoptive parent needs patience and resilience in order to achieve their goal of adopting a child. They can’t give up on their dream because then it will never happen. As long as they keep trying to find a child to adopt, they have a chance of succeeding. 

A pregnant woman considering placing her child for adoption will also have to go through some experiences she doesn’t want. She will have to make hard decisions only she can make. In the end, she may choose to not get what she wants and instead give her child what they need and deserve. We all face challenges.  We will not go through life getting everything we want. 

The Excitement of Meeting Your New Child

Roger and Anita were so excited to see Pongo and Perdy when they came back home. They were even more excited to see the puppies were back safely with their parents. Not only had their beloved Pongo and Perdy’s pups returned, but 98 puppies came to their house. The entire place was filled with laughter, joy, and excitement. Even though it appeared to be overwhelming, Roger and Anita were so happy with their full house. 

When an adoption takes place, there is so much excitement in meeting a child. The adoptive parents look forward to meeting their child as a child looks forward to Christmas. They plan for it, prepare for it, and pray for it. Adoptive parents will have a room ready for their future child long before they come. They have sacrificed time, money, and a lot of energy to find a child to adopt. On the day they finally get to meet the child, the excitement in the room is palpable. 

Not only are the adoptive parents excited to meet the child, but grandparents, aunts, uncles, and so many more relatives are also excited about the meeting. 

Just like Roger and Anita feared that they would never see their dogs again, adoptive parents fear that they will never adopt a child. It is a beautiful thing to witness dreams and hopes coming true. So beautiful that often the joy spills out in tears and smiles.

Changes in Cars or House

As soon as Roger and Anita adopted all those puppies and they knew they were going to be having a child of their own, Roger announced, “We are moving to a house in the country.” He realized they would need more space and more property for all the new additions to the family. 

The same thing can happen when people adopt a child or children. Maybe the couple has nice cars that only sit two people, and they know they need more room for their adopted child or children. Sometimes people adopt sibling groups, and they definitely need more car or home space. These changes to family sizes because of adoption are wonderful, but they can require changes to cars and homes. It is just the nature of expanding a family. Homes and vehicles become full. 

Everyone is Family

My favorite part about 101 Dalmatians is the end when everyone is reunited. There is so much happiness and excitement in that room. Even though not all those puppies were Pongo and Perdy’s, they are accepted into the family. Pongo and Perdy don’t leave behind the puppies that are not theirs. Roger and Anita do not suggest finding homes for the other puppies. Nope, every single puppy is family. 

In the same way that every puppy is accepted as part of the family, adoption is literally welcoming someone into your family. When a baby is adopted, a family grows. In an open adoption, the adoptive family and the biological family can now consider themselves family. At the very least, they are linked because of the shared child. This can make for very complicated family situations, but we are used to complicated family situations in today’s society. Instead of worrying about the complications, we can think of all the people we are blessed to call family. Our love can expand and grow.

I have read that adoption is where the child grew in the mother’s heart instead of her belly, and I believe that. Just because a child was not birthed by its mother does not mean they are not loved by her adoptive mother. In fact, adoptive parents can be some of the most loving parents because they really, really wanted that child. In my experience, there is something so amazing about taking someone else’s biological child into your home and heart to take care of them. It is a blessing and a privilege. 


While babies and dogs are not the same, there are amazing similarities between the adoption community experiences and 101 Dalmatians. These similarities can help us appreciate the miracle of adoption and the expanded families and loved ones that come from each adoption. The adoption community is an amazing network of loving people. 

Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.

Jennifer Autry has enjoyed the greatest job in the entire world for over 16 years now, being a mother. Becoming a mother was not easy for Jennifer. Although she does not have anywhere near the number of children she wanted, she is grateful for both her daughters and the foster children she has cared for. Jennifer is passionate about writing and helping people. The adoption community is near and dear to her heart as she still holds out hope of adopting someday. You can find out more about Jennifer and her latest projects at