Becky Talks HBO's "Foster"

About a year ago, HBO released “Foster,” a documentary about the child welfare system in Los Angeles. I finally got around to watching it, and since I recently shared my thoughts on “Instant Family”, a fictional take on a family’s adoption journey, I wanted to share my thoughts about the documentary as well.

While it is by nature very different from “Instant Family,” “Foster” evokes an equal amount of emotion, perhaps more, because you get to know real people with really hard stories.

The documentary follows a variety of people who are all part of the child welfare system, including two youth in foster care, a foster mother and her five children, a biological family with the Department’s involvement, and social workers, one of whom grew up in the system. Watching the two teenagers through their journey — struggles, triumphs, and everything in between — was enlightening.  

The storyline with the biological family was particularly uplifting, as you watch Mom get treatment for drug addiction and Dad take care of the baby in the meantime. It takes courage to be vulnerable and share your weaknesses with the world, and I’m grateful they did. Their case is dismissed with no further involvement of the Department.

And this is incredible. I wish we saw this happening more in real life, where families work with the system one time and make necessary changes, and we never hear from them again because of their success.

Whenever I watch any type of media representing foster care and adoption, I look for just that — how well does this reflect what we see in real life?

There’s no question the documentary style lends itself to a more realistic picture of what it’s like to participate in foster care and adoption, and it’s the words on the screen at the end of the film that make this ring true.

We are given short updates about how the individuals are doing after filming the documentary. For example, while the teenagers in care seem to finish out the film in a good place, you learn they continue to have ongoing challenges.

And this is the sad reality — kids who have experienced trauma often continue to struggle into adulthood. That truth is exactly why Stand Up Eight exists.

If we don’t deal with childhood trauma, it will continue to affect us for all of our lives. That’s why we know our type of intervention is necessary. 

Becky Wickes