If you have not heard, there is a new film in theaters that is causing quite a stir: Instant Family. It is about Pete and Ellie Wagner deciding to become foster parents and end up adopting a sibling group of three. Mark Wahlberg is a fabulous lead actor, as always, Rose Byrne is hilarious, and the child actors get a big debut with these two. But let’s go into detail, since the theme is foster care! **Please note that there are MANY spoilers!**
As you know, Captain and I have been fostering through kinship since June. This weekend we handed her over to my grandparents, due to my upcoming delivery and other issues we were having. But we have had a real taste of foster care that we don’t plan to give up. It’s not easy but it is very rewarding, for everyone involved.
The movie begins with Pete (Wahlberg) and Ellie (Byrne) who are in their thirties, happy not to have children because of their thriving business flipping homes. Feeling pressured from Ellie’s family, they decide to begin fostering. The choice to begin fostering a child(ren) is not easy, and they portray that in hilarious ways: the “yes, I’m all in!” to “I’m not ready for this”, extended family being fake supportive, and how they get their first placement. I will say: we do not have adoption fairs!! That was weird and inaccurate for PA but it’s how they came to foster a sibling group of three.
Initially, reunification was not a goal for the children, as mother was an active drug user currently incarcerated. But when the family starts to finally have a routine and normalcy, mom comes back into the picture. The Wagner’s then need to adjust to the emotional disruption that each visit comes with. Instant Family shows how an act as simple as brushing hair can be a trigger for a child, and how you should be willing to try and break through that barrier.
In the end, the children were supposed to be legally reunified with their mother, but their mother decided she just wasn’t ready and began to use drugs again. Pete and Ellie were so happy to adopt the children, but it came with baggage, as they know now.
I give this movie a 9.5/10 when it comes to realistic points of view. When you finally step into the foster care world, it is HARD. It tests your marriage and your resiliency. But it is so rewarding. Of course there are times when you say, “We should just send he/she back.” But the love and time that you have put into the child means so much more to you (usually). And the struggle of dealing with reunification.. it’s real. You want to protect this child(ren) but legally there’s not much you can do. And it’s tough. But you have to believe that the court is acting in the best interest of the child(ren).
I did not pick a good day to see this movie, since we had just given our baby girl to my grandparents, so I did cry A LOT! but it’s because of the truth in each situation. The feeling of finally being recognized! It is a great movie shedding light on situations NO ONE ever talks about.