The spectrum of films and television shows that feature foster care in some shape or form run the gamut from kid friendly tales of hope and happiness to the depressing realities of difficult situations. However, each representation from film to television has something that calls out to current and former foster parents.
For our foster care in movies and television list, we focused on some of the favorites of foster families.
Foster Care in Movies and Television – Free Willy
Jesse: So how much are they payin’ you to be my jailer?
Glenn Greenwood: Jailer? Heh, well, I’m makin’ such a great deal on you, you wouldn’t believe it. You’re a regular cash cow, kid. With that, plus $1,000,000, I could probably retire by the time I’m 300 years old.
Often forgotten when recalling the story of a boy and a whale trapped in a theme park is the fact the 12-year-old, who was troubled at the start of the film, was in foster care. The boy, Jesse, was abandoned by his mother and, after getting caught stealing and vandalizing, was placed in the care of Annie and Glen Greenwood. Although distrustful and hostile at the outset, Jesse learns to trust and love his foster parents following a whale of an adventure.
Foster Care in Movies and Television – Angels in the Outfield
You can’t go through life thinking everyone you need will one day let you down.
Another Disney movie in the early 90s also focuses on a child in foster care. This time, a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt prays to God for the Angels to win the pennant because his widower father said they could be a family again if the not-so-great-team won the pennant. What follows is a series of victories for the baseball team spurred on by real Angels, unseen to anyone by Gordon-Levitt. Even so, his father still surrenders parental rights. The fantastical film shows how a foster child still may want to be in his father’s care, regardless if the dad is no good. But relax; it’s a Disney film so the ending features a happy adoption.
Foster Care in Movies and Television – The Fosters
“You’re right about one thing; you’re not the daughter that I dreamed of. You’re better.”
New to the world of television, The Fosters premiered June 3, 2013 on ABC Family to critical and commercial success. The series revolves around Lena Adam s Foster and Stef Adams Foster, a couple who are raising a biological son, adopted twins and two foster children. The show, which focuses on diversity, helps spread a lesson of acceptance and understanding, something many foster parents can relate to. While the show does appear to present a hands off approach to parenting (quite different than the active and involved approach most foster parents must take with children in their care), it also sheds light on issues facing older children and siblings in foster care as well as the frequency of placement changes.
Foster Care in Movies and Television – The Blind Side
You’re changing that boy’s life.
Leigh Anne Tuohy:No. He’s changing mine.
The film, based on the wonderful book by author Michael Lewis, focuses on 17-year-old Michael Oher and strong-minded Leigh Ann Tuohy. After bouncing from foster home to foster home, Oher is discovered by Leigh Ann walking alone on a road with the intention of sleeping outside a school gym. What follows is the story of one woman’s devotion to adopting, raising and protecting the boy who would grow up to be an NFL lineman for the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans.
Foster Care in Movies and Television – Superman
What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended? What if a child aspired to something greater?
Okay, admittedly this one is a little out there.
But the story of alien Kal-El, who was given away by his birth parents on Krypton and sent across the universe to Earth on a ship where he was discovered, fostered and raised by Martha and Jonathan Kent, is a classic reminder of the importance of foster parenting. Kal-El grows up as Clark Kent, raised by his now adoptive parents in Kansas. He becomes Superman, protector of Earth. Why? Because he was more than where he came from; he was who his parents, biological or not, raised him to be.
What’s your favorite movie featuring foster care?
Lloyd Nelson is the Digital Media Manager of Foster and Adoptive Family Services. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.