Becky Talks "Instant Family"

Have you seen Instant Family yet? Well, if you haven’t, you should. And I recommend bringing tissues or snagging extra napkins reserved for the delicious, buttery popcorn and instead using them to wipe the tears from your eyes.

Instant Family is a movie about a married couple, the Wagners, who decide to adopt three precious siblings, and all the adventures that come along with that very brave commitment.

As an adoption professional, I tend to be cynical about anything that touches on foster care and adoption. But this time I decided to try to enjoy the movie, all the while knowing it would be impossible to ignore my own experiences.

And while at several points during the movie I leaned over to my husband and said, “That’s not real,” or “Ha! That wouldn’t happen like that,” the movie did a great job of capturing the experiences of the adoptive family.


My first thought is the media and general public, though slowly, ARE growing in their understanding of foster care and adoption, which is a dream come true for us at Stand Up Eight. And a movie like Instant Family brings this little passion of ours to light.

Many lines in the movie reflect real thoughts people have about adoption — the fears, insecurities and stresses — and you get to see how the main characters work through them.

Even the dramatizations of tantrums, and the myriad challenges the Wagners face, truly represent many of the things I have seen in my work with families.

Most importantly, this movie calls attention to the overwhelming need for foster parents, especially the need for parents who will invite sibling groups and teens into their homes.

The movie also depicts different attachment styles of the kids, as well as the ups and downs the family goes through in adjusting to their new life together. Some days they make those critical bonds with their kids, and on other days the kids regress or the Wagners make big parenting mistakes.

But it gets better. And sometimes they take steps back, and that’s okay.

My favorite part of the movie is the inclusion of another adoptive family, the Fernandezes. They, along with their now adult daughter, Brenda, attend the Wagners’ foster parent training, and Brenda shares how her life was changed because of the love her adoptive parents showed her, leaving the Wagners feeling inspired.

Later when the Wagners are struggling and about to give up, they reach out to the Fernandezes looking again for inspiration and guidance.

But the Fernandezes tell the Wagners Brenda is unfortunately back in rehab trying to get clean. Extremely disappointed and distraught, the Wagners begin to lose hope.

The Fernandezes rebuke the Wagners for their response and explain they adopted Brenda when she was 11, meth habit and all, and the challenges that come with that can take a lifetime to overcome. What’s important is Brenda is taking care of herself, and the Fernandezes will love her through that, no matter what.

And. I. Wept.

Can we all get a slow clap for that? ! I mean, COME ON! That’s why Stand Up Eight exists! Because adoption is a beautiful thing, but the challenges don’t end on adoption day.

I am so, so grateful this movie is painting this picture for the general public, even if only for a blip. We need to see, read and hear more stories like these because we need to be willing to ask for help if we want to improve our own lives and the lives of our kids.

If you’ve seen the movie, we’d love to hear what you think!

Becky Wickes