It’s National Foster Care Month, and filmmakers Nathanael and Christina Matanick have released a powerful film that challenges us to think about the life experiences of kids in foster care. Remember My Story is the sequel to the powerful film, ReMoved, which was a viral hit after being quietly uploaded last year.
We revisit Zoe, a young girl who has come into foster care because of domestic violence. She is doing well in the home of her foster mother, and loves being able to share a home with her infant brother Beniah. Zoe’s mother continues to go through the court process, and a judge has to make decisions that will impact Zoe, Beniah, and the people that love them. Zoe has been reading The Wizard of Oz, and feels as though, like Dorothy, she is subject to an unpredictable tornado.
The Adoption Connection
Zoe and Beniah are kids in foster care. Their mother loves them, but a judge reminds us that the question isn’t whether she loves them, but whether she has maintained a parental relationship with them. Although Zoe and Beniah are siblings, it’s very possible that their cases will progress differently. Lots of people have choices to make – the judge, social workers, the foster mother, prospective adoptive parents, and even, to some extent, Zoe’s mother. Really, the only people without a voice are Zoe and Beniah. That’s the storm we join Zoe in as the story begins. Zoe opens with a challenge to adults, “You see your story, not mine. You can’t heal me. This is my story. I have to make peace with it.”
Remember My Story manages to capture a lot of the aspects and emotions of the foster-adoption process in only 20 minutes. Zoe’s continued placement with her brother comes into question, Zoe’s mom is given a “goodbye” visit and is told that she will not see her kids again, a judge asks whether an court-appointed advocate is present in court for Zoe (there isn’t), and in the midst of this, we see Zoe’s emotions. Sometimes her emotions boil over – at one point, she throws papers at her foster mother, and tells her, “I hate you.” We see that the system’s initial answer to her emotional distress is to medicate her, but Zoe’s foster mom challenges this, and Zoe encourages us to understand that her behavior makes sense in a context – she challenges us, “You see what I do, but forget why.”
Zoe’s foster mom is an excellent example of foster parenting. She is patient, kind, loving, and persistent.
We get to see Zoe as a young woman, thriving, and using her childhood experiences to help other children in similar situations.
Remember My Story is very effective. I found myself feeling angered, sad, hopeful, and joyful.
These are emotions that are very real to foster care – for the adults involved and for the kids.
Remember My Story has the potential to help adults develop compassion and understanding for kids
in foster care. It’s a very real film which will likely be highly impactful to viewers who are, or have been, in foster care, and for kids particularly, I could see it as either triggering or healing; parents probably should watch it first, and then watch it alongside your kids, prepared to process it with them. This film is a can’t-miss for adults who care about kids in care.
Questions for Discussion
How can you impact the lives of kids in Foster Care? Check out this (admittedly hand-drawn) flowchart
Would you make a good CASA? CASAs (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) are volunteers who follow a child’s journey through foster care and speak on their behalf in court.
When children react to life as Zoe does, yelling and speaking hurtfully, many parents would try to correct her, but her foster parent instead tries to empathize with her. What helped her be able to do that? What benefits does that approach bring to Zoe?
Interested in seeing Remember My Story? Here’s a list of upcoming screenings: http://removedfilm.com/pages/screenings