It’s such a hot time of year and many families are looking for ways to escape the heat. Staying indoors and enjoying a family movie night is one way to stay cool. Watching movies that feature foster and adoption story lines is a great way to educate your kids about the reality of foster care. While many foster and adoption storylines can be dated or highlight harmful stereotypes, here are a few movies that showcase a better interpretation.
This movie is near and dear to our hearts as we connected with the makers of the movie when it opened several years ago and had our own release party and screening in Tennessee!
This is a fun and at times funny story, considering the subject matter. Two star actors lead the film and it’s a story that has something that everyone in the family can relate to — cute kids, parental indecision, hard time connecting, building family relationships and the complexities and joys of this unique experience called fostering and adoption. We love how they use videos to connect with children in foster care, which is a huge part of TN Kids Belong and our I Belong Project™ videos.
“Pete and Ellie have enjoyed their lives as a childless couple. …After a conversation with relatives, Ellie starts thinking about having children…Ellie begins researching adoption, and her heart is touched by the profiles of children on AdoptUSKids, a website geared towards recruiting adoptive parents for children waiting in the foster care system. Pete’s heart is also eventually touched, and Pete and Ellie begin their journey towards certification as foster-adoptive parents; they ultimately meet Lizzy, Juan and Lita at a matching event. The film follows them through a very realistic experience of the California foster and adoption system, through their certification, matching process, and placement.” – Adoption at the Movies review
In this 2021 Christian teen musical, Will is a troubled soul moved from foster home to foster home due to behavior issues or outright breaking the law. He now has a choice: a week at a Christian summer camp or juvenile detention. The movie is a musical and features song numbers that were written by contemporary Christian songwriters from the last several decades. A musical throwback for mom and dad and a heartwarming story about every child wanting to belong, no matter what their behavior says.
Another movie close to our hearts as John Buultjens is a friend of America’s Kids Belong and our mission to change the story of foster care. It tells the true and inspiring story of Scottish BMX champion Buultjens, who overcame an abusive childhood through the love and life lessons of his interracial foster family. After being raised by a white supremacist family and bouncing in and out of juvenile detention, John is adopted by a black foster family who make it their mission to overcome the challenges of John’s upbringing, slowly beginning to forge a relationship through their foster son’s fascination with extreme sports and BMX biking. Rooted by this newfound passion, the family builds a bond of mutual respect, love and redemption.
This Disney classic is kind of a surprising addition to the list, but it actually features a kinship placement for Lilo following the death of her parents. Stitch is ultimately adopted into their created family, as well.
“There are two strong adoption and foster care connections. Stitch is far away from home, living with a new family. His behaviors are destructive and many people are initially uncertain as to whether he can fit into this (or any) family. Some children in foster care exhibit behaviors that frustrate, worry, or confuse their caregivers. At the same time, Nani and Lilo experience the stressful involvement of child and protective services. This will be familiar to most children who have been in (or are in) foster care. Lilo has also experienced significant loss (her parents have died.) She comments, ‘I remember everyone that leaves.’ She prays for a friend. She wonders whether hers is ‘a broken family.’ She struggles with viewing Nani as both a sister and a mother.” – Adoption at the Movies review
The story is very inspiring and emphasizes the struggles of foster families, specifically raising children recovering trauma. When her husband dies, Mrs. Ester Hobbes learns that his wealth was just an illusion. Her only real inheritance is a run-down Southern home occupied by a foster family. Slowly, Mrs. Hobbes finds herself making unexpected connections with rebellious teen Justin (Lucas Till, Hannah Montana: The Movie) and the rest of the unwanted kids. A touching drama of lives transformed; shedding light on the issue of foster care, and the need for people to step up and help take care of these kids.
We hope these five movies help you get started in exposing your family to foster and adoption stories!