I had watched trailers for the movie Instant Family and decided I didn’t want to see it because it looked like it would be one of those romanticized, feel good films about foster families and foster care. But when we were trying to decide on a movie to watch with friends on Monday night I checked out Instant Family’s reviews and found it had received a positive response from critics and audience members alike. I discovered that contrary to the cutesy trailers I had seen the movie was based on a true story and that Sean Anders the writer and director of the movie had been a foster parent himself. Most reviewers agreed the movie presesented difficult but realistic truths about the foster care system.
They were right. The movie was engaging and didn’t paint a rosy picture of what foster care is like. I learned or was reminded of some things.
- There are 500,000 children in foster care in the United States.
- Although older children and teens make up the largest percentage they are the hardest to find placements for in foster care.
- Siblings benefit from being placed in the same foster home.
- The goal of foster care is to reunite children with their birth parents and this will be the top priority when decisions are made about children’s futures.
- Foster parents are a very diverse group and most, but not all, genuinely want to help children.
- Foster parents take an intensive course before being approved for fostering.
When the couple in the film has just about reached the end of their rope with their three difficult foster children they go and see another set of foster parents for advice. That foster mom reminds them…….”things that matter are hard.”
That might be the core lesson of the film and applies not just to foster parenting but to every kind of family relationship.
And remember you can’t always trust a movie’s trailer to give you a true picture of what the film is about.