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5 Truths ‘Instant Family’ Exposes about Foster Care, Adoption

November is National Adoption Month and a perfect time for this weekend’s release of the new movie “Instant Family.” I was able to recently preview the film and shared my thoughts on why you should go see “Instant Family” over at Raising Arizona Kids Magazine.

As a foster-adoptive parent, I laughed and cried my way through the entire movie so I wanted to share some of the main takeaways from the movie that resonated with me.

5 Truths ‘Instant Family’ Exposes About Foster Care, Adoption

1. Imperfect Parents Needed

The movie “Instant Family” is not only funny, but it is full of heartwarming and heartbreaking scenes about the imperfect realities of navigating the journey of foster care and adoption. The film brilliantly shows that it doesn’t take perfect parents to do this, only loving and willing ones who preferably have a sense of humor. 

AdoptUsKids end their public service announcements with the tagline, “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent,” reassuring parents that even if they are not perfect, they can provide the stability and security that children in foster care need and deserve.

Check out my “Instant Family” movie review HERE.

2. Foster Youth Transport Their Belongings in Trash Bags

In the movie, you see the children carrying their belongings in large black trash bags, which is exactly how it happens the majority of the time.

Thankfully, there are organizations nationwide focused on providing bags for foster children to use so that they can move and transport what little they have with dignity. Check out these organizations who are working to change this- Together We Rise, Suitcases for Hope, and Foster Love Project.

3. Teenagers Are Often Overlooked

Even though Anders did not actually adopt a teenager in real life, he did an excellent job in the movie of portraying the truth that teenagers who currently live in the foster care system need and deserve a loving home and family too. Of the more than 5,000 children in foster care actively photo listed on adoptuskids.org, 43 percent are 15–18 years old.

I used dialogue journals to communicate with my teenage mentee. This is not only her truth but the unfortunate truth of many teens living in foster care today.

4. Community Support and Loving Relationships is Key 

The orientation and support group scenes in the movie were some of my favorites as I related to the importance of being in community with others who were going through similar scenarios in their home. I loved how the movie showed the same adults moving through the orientation, to the licensing classes, to the support group and on to the courtroom for adoptions, yet I know reality tells a different story.

Clint Williams, Family Resource Development Specialist for AASK – Aid to Adoption of Special Kids in Arizona tells us that only 7% of the people who contact the agency for information about community foster care, end up getting licensed.

For 2017, AASK shows:

  • 1206 people inquired about foster care-adoption by telephone call or through the website
  • 523 people attended an information session
  • 205 completed intake application process
  • 120 individuals started classes 
  • 86 actually became Licensed.
  • Even fewer go forward to take in a foster placement or adopt.

The kids need more people to persevere through all of the requirements so that they may get a chance at growing up in a secure and loving home.

5. You Can Meet the Children at Adoption Fairs

In the movie, husband and wife (Pete and Ellie) meet the teenager they would later adopt, along with her two siblings, at an adoption fair. This is exactly how director Anders and his wife, met their children, but not every state has adoption fairs as depicted in the movie.

In Arizona, we do not have ‘adoption fairs’ but if you have a level one fingerprint clearance card you can volunteer at Children’s Heart Gallery and hang out with the kids who are legally free for adoption. But, you will have to be licensed to adopt any of the children.

I met our son at a Children’s Heart Gallery event in 2016.

The agency Christian Family Care does “match events” where they invite certified/licensed families (who all have clearance) to attend a bowling party or celebration at the zoo and have kids in need of a forever family attend the event as well.  “It’s an informal way for these families to meet the kids and also get to see them in a fun environment and not just read about them on paper and determine if they are a good fit or not beforehand,” said Lisa Marks, an Adoption Recruitment Specialist in Arizona. “It’s also a way for people to get to know how great the older kids are as a majority of certified families/licensed families are hoping for babies, toddlers or little kids.”

If you are interested in learning more about how you can get involved in helping a foster child in Arizona, check out AASK’s schedule of upcoming information sessions HERE.

For resources for foster care-adoption nationally check out: https://www.davethomasfoundation.org; https://www.adoptuskids.org

 

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