As “Instant Family” hit the big screen, there’s been a lot of buzz in the adoption community — is this an accurate view of adopting from foster care? What do adoptees, kids in foster care, adoptive parents, adoption social workers and birth parents think about it? There are many roles to take into account, and we’ve enjoyed the conversation about it! Caitlin Howe, our adoptee programs coordinator, along with her brother — formerly in the foster care system — both watched the movie and wanted to share their thoughts.
Adoptee Programs Coordinator | International Adoptee
As the ending credit rolled up the screen, I took a deep sigh and wiped my tears for the fiftieth time that hour. I cry a lot in movies. Maybe it’s the security of movie darkness and the fact that the volume is so loud, I won’t draw too much attention if I let an occasional sob jump from my body.
I grew up as a part of a foster family and so I was a little bit anxious about how the movie would cover the topic. The trailer itself was much more than a feel-good depiction of a family that gives in to their altruistic feelings and ends up with a picture-perfect family life. This detachment from that watered-down narrative is what I liked most about the entire film.
Foster care can be depicted in a very simplistic way. Foster families are good. Foster children are voiceless victims. Birth families are bad. All of these mindsets are harmful to children in the system, their birth families and the families that choose to foster. The movie itself presented a lot of familiar challenges that I remember growing up, and in a way that was respectful and yet somehow comical. For many families, it can feel like it’s a constant “two steps forward, one step back” — and, on the hard days, three steps back.
Being part of a foster family is anything but simple and I felt that the film gave us a glimpse into the ridiculous, painful, challenging and amazing journey that children and families embark on through foster care. Sometimes, loving and caring for children feels like a song and sometimes, it feels like a battle. But whether you’re making music or cleaning up broken dishes, caring for children in the foster care system is vital – and I believe that the film did a great job in presenting that to us.
Student | Formerly in Foster Care
The movie “Instant Family” led me on an emotional rollercoaster through the troubles of foster care, whether it be from the parent’s or child’s perspective. As a previous foster kid, I believe that this movie accurately portrayed the struggles and the issues we had growing up. From the awkward moment you meet your new parents to the gut-turning issue of who do you call your ‘mom,’ this movie has finally brought representation of foster children everywhere. And hopefully, we can continue to talk more freely about these issues so that they are no longer considered taboo in our society.
“Instant Family” also touches upon the fact that being a foster parent is possibly one of the most difficult jobs out there. At times, you doubt your decisions, question your parenting, and no matter what foster parents do, they feel like they can never be right. It shows the incredibly difficult task at hand when you accept non-biological children into your family. “Instant Family” shows that the most important thing you can do when you have foster kids, adoptees or a non-nuclear family is to have patience and give as much love as you can. Because just like a rollercoaster, it may be scary at some points, but in the end it’s worth it.