By: Megan Maloney
According to the most recent federal study, there are 473, 465 children in the foster care system and each year the number has been increasing since 2012. Children in the foster care system are lost and almost never find a permanent home in which to stay which is just heartbreaking. The Foster’s is a tv show that highlights that there is hope in the system and that it is possible to get out for all of the children currently in the system. The show also exhibits and encourages diversity within family and in life. It brings new meaning to the word family and it does so in many interesting ways. The show also makes a statement to stand up for yourself and what you believe in by taking a commenting and exploiting on several current issues going on in society today.
The show The Foster’s is about the lives and battles of a same sex couple as well as their children. Stef Foster and Lena Adams are the openly lesbian mothers in the show who foster a few kids from all different ethnic groups and previous backgrounds. Their children Brendan, who is biologically Stef’s child from her previous marriage, Jesus and Mariana Foster who are twins they adopted when they were younger, and later Jude and Callie who were initially fostered then adopted into the family. Stef and Lena had previously fostered children and had an open mindset to giving back to their community and helping others. Callie and Jude were only supposed to be temporary children in their home. Callie and Jude were so used to bouncing around from house to house so it was unexpected that they found their forever home, their family.
The creators of the show are Peter Paige and Bradley Bredeweg. They are an openly gay couple whom believed it would be great for a show to reflect and develop the “modern American Family” we are open to accepting today. In searching for the perfect show, they found that television had not told the story of mothers raising children. Even for the single mothers out there which did not have the extra support would often go as far as fostering or adopting other children because of health issues and other problems that may come into effect. This also can shed some light on those watching in the system. They all have a tough life and watching their story can give them a different perspective on how to get out of the system. It can encourage that there is hope for a newer, happier life and it will exist someday.
The show encourages diversity. Their family alone is extremely diverse and they never discriminate or hold back their children’s heritage or culture. They embrace their children with open arms. Jesus and Mariana are Latino twins and Stef and Lena encourage them to bring that side of them out. They themselves are not of that culture, but they still throw Mariana a Quinceanera to allow her that part of her identity. There still were challenges as Lena and Stef were not Latina so it still put strain on cultural identity for Jesus and Mariana no matter how hard they tried to embrace the culture. The show also has as the main family, a gay bi-racial couple. This represents all of the other bi-racial couples who are just viewed as “weird” or “just not right” which are phrases I personally have heard people say. They never let their love for one another be affected by what others believe and they encouraged their children to call them both Mom, even though Brendan was the only biological child to Stef.
The show is more of a representation of other couples and families that are out there just not the picture-perfect family always depicted on TV. The show also tries to be representative of all current issues. For instance, Callie takes a stand on undocumented immigration which is a current issue being attacked. It shows the more real side of what it is like for a family to be ripped apart. Ximena spoke up and boycotted a speaker that came to her college. She was not afraid to speak up about her undocumented status in the United States and shortly afterwards ICE was after Ximena and her family. Ximena was here legally and her sister was born on American soil but her parents were not. They treated them like they were a threat and did not want to understand their side of the story. They were not harming anyone. It showed just how brutal we can be to the undocumented instead of trying to make them legal, we rip apart families and do not sympathize. I think that it is important to realize that there are many sides to a story and this was just one way that the Foster’s did just that.
The Foster’s also encourages exploring your own identity. For instance, when Jude wanted to open up about his sexuality and even though Lena and Stef are a gay couple, they assumed initially that Jude was not gay and did the very thing their own parents assumed. After they learned about Jude, it opened their eyes that they too can make false assumptions that can hurt someone. They were immediately accepting of his sexuality and who he wanted to be and love. Lena said later, “We love you no matter what because you’re you.” They did not treat him any differently and they embraced him for opening up about who he really was. Jude was much happier and later on in the episodes gets his first boyfriend. This can serve as an inspiration for children who are trying to embrace who they really are and it can encourage them to be more open about their sexuality. It can also show how a child may be feeling. It can potentially inform the parents and even other family members what it is like to be open about one’s sexuality especially at a young age.
Many times, in creating and developing the show, there had been backlash. Before the show aired, one million moms immediately boycotted the show and banned their children from watching it when it came out. One million moms is just an activist group that likes to filter and manage media and fight against “disturbing” shows that goes against their beliefs. The one million moms said collectively that “this show is exploiting sin.” This did not scare the producers and in fact they were expecting it. Homosexuality is still not fully accepted right now and this show is just a little awakening to the “other” types of families that exist. Nothing like this had been aired before yet alone really talked about. Many people doubted the show before it was even explained them that there was no chance of consideration, there would be no way Hollywood would be interested in this show.
There was a strong bias against these homosexual families. From the plot alone, some of society refuses to accept even portrayal of these actions. With positive inspiration and feedback from Jennifer Lopez, one of the producers, in pushing the development along, they struck the perfect match with ABC family’s slogan; “A new kind of family.” Lopez fell in love with the story from the beginning and was also inspired from a family member who was not able to have a family of her own due to the unjust biases against her sexual preference to adopt.
With the changing times and modern societies, biases like these have hope of fading out. There has been a steady increase over the years in the ability of single parents such as mothers adopting or fostering kids of their own and changing the lives of these children. If someone was to walk into an adoption agency 30 years ago as a single parent, there was almost a guaranteed denial waiting for them. Times are changing. It is not uncommon anymore to have single parents, bi-racial couples or same sex couples. According to the 2009 census, almost one third of them are from single parents which is just another way family can be redefined just like this show exhibits and encourages. This show encourages fostering, adoption, acceptance, diversity, and identity all of which are important features we as a society need to be aware of constantly. So, I encourage you to say yes to The Foster’s because it was a much needed representation of a real family and there is no harm that stems from the show but rather acknowledgement and education of these important topics and issues.