Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Seven Things to Like about "The Fosters"

ABC debuted their new show, Fosters, last night. Stef Foster and Lena Adams are an interracial, lesbian couple. They are mothers to three children; Brandon is Stef’s son from a previous marriage. Jesus and Mariana came into the Foster home eight years ago and were adopted five years ago.  Lena and Stef have just taken in placement of Callie, a teenager who released from Juvenile Hall into their care. All four children attend the school where Lena is an administrator. Callie and Brandon were able to rescue Callie’s younger brother, Jude, from an abusive foster father. As the first episode ends, Stef promises that she will make room in the home for both Callie and Jude.

There’s quite a lot to like about The Fosters.

1. Stef and Lena are, in many ways, a diverse family – in that, they mirror many real-world foster families, and hopefully make foster parenting a more approachable concept for many couples. There’s a great need for more foster families.

2. Stef and Lena take in Callie – a teenager who was recently released from Juvenile Hall. Callie’s case worker sort of springs the idea on Lena, and acknowledges that Lena might go to a group home if Stef and Lena don’t take placement of her. Lena agrees to take her in, for a few weeks, and Stef fairly quickly warms to her. Many times, certain elements of a kids’ story make it more difficult for them to be placed, but they need loving homes, too.

3. Stef and Lena are good at welcoming Callie to their home. They go over household rules, provide her with a change of clothing, and ask questions to see her preferences on some aspects of her sleeping arrangement.

4. We are shown the truth behind Callie’s record. Callie has been accused of destroying property. That shows up on kids’ records often enough, and it’s usually viewed as pretty concerning. Callie also runs away from the Fosters’ home. In combination, those two facts might have families looking to have Callie removed from their home – but Stef and Lena hang around long enough to learn the truth behind the record, and all of a sudden, Callie’s behaviors make sense.

5. Stef and Lena have gone out of their way to make it possible for Jesus and Mariana to have contact with their birthmother. Jesus and Mariana are bilingual, and Stef demonstrates her bilingual skills as well. Stef and Lena also consider the possibility that they are putting too much pressure on Jess and Mariana to meet their birthmother.

6. Brandon quickly takes a protective role towards Callie; when he discerns that she is running away, Brandon leaves a conversation with his girlfriend to ensure that Callie is OK.

7. Callie worries that her actions towards saving Jude might require her to be sent away from the Fosters’ home. Stef affirms her beautifully, “You’re not disposable. You’re not worthless.”

A couple things were concerning, and it will be interesting to see how they pan out.

1. Stef’s ex-husband is a police officer who shares a beat with Stef. He comments that Stef and Lena “take in strays like some damn homeless shelter.”

2.  Mariana does meet Ana, her birthmother, but the circumstances are very negative. Ana has asked Mariana to bring her money. Their meeting lasts less than a minute; Ana says Mariana is pretty, tearfully asks her for money, thanks her twice, and then quickly leaves. Jesus had previously ripped a picture of Ana, proclaiming that “this woman is not our mom.”  The initial portrayal of Ana could be developed – like we understood Callie’s story, we might eventually be able to understand Ana’s. I hope so.

Overall, I enjoyed the show. It touched on so many important issues (birthparent contact, what to call birthparents, the “reality” of adopted kids as opposed to biologically-related kids, teenage placements, truth vs. case records), and generally did so quite well. I’m looking forward to following The Fosters as they continue to grow.

Did you see the episode? What did you think?

If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s available for viewing until June 16 here:  


  1. What struck me most about this post actually had little to do with the post itself. I was shocked at how quickly my culture has changed. Sexual purity doesn't exist anymore in the larger culture. Sure, in some subsets of culture, it will always exist, but in the culture at large, sexuality is identity (lesbian), and it almost doesn't matter who or what you give yourself to. They speak of sexual identity as they would the color of a man's beard. Nobody can point to an authority for rules of sexual conduct, because even a family channel has lesbians portrayed as upstanding. It's hard to find anything in our culture that compares with it, but to me, being so frivolous about this would be like having an upstanding peeping pedophile as one of the heroes of a show. One episode he's setting up cameras in the girls' bathroom, and the next scene, he's taking in orphans off the street. And it's not just the lesbian stuff. Almost every episode of anything I watch on TV has fornication with strangers, "the teenage talk" being how their first should be someone they really care about, and divorce as being a normal part of the character's past. If sexual morals exist, we really should get back to them. Sexual sin is ruining our culture. It makes dads leave their kids, and it makes moms burn out. We would have less need for foster care if our culture had some sexual morals to speak of.

    Call me old fashioned, but I didn't kiss my wife until she was my wife. Not even once.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate reading from you. As a social worker in the foster care system, most of the kids I worked with were born from relationships that had already ended, and it is very sad when a child is born to parents who have already separated, or who eventually separate. I agree with you that some changes in society would create less need for foster care. Those changes would involve families sticking together -- and making the changes they need to make so that "sticking together" is not synonymous with "remaining in an abusive relationship." I think that this change can happen.

      But, at the same time, I've seen God work for good in situations that started out very painfully.

      The main point you raise is a challenging one for many people. Some Christians (It sounds like you're in this group) believe strongly that homosexuality is a sin. Others don't think so, and others aren't sure. But here's a difficult question - if you believe that Stef and Lena are living a sinful lifestyle - but you also see that they are making a positive impact in the life of Callie and Jude where most other people would have given up or not even tried, do you say that the kids would be better off in juvenile hall or their abusive home, better off waiting for the rare home that will take in a teenager with a criminal record, or better off with Stef and Lena? It is hard for folks, acknowledging their strong beliefs, to say, "I think something about this family is wrong, but I see that the kids are getting what they need here to a greater extent than they're getting it anywhere else." But the alternative for people with strong beliefs might be to say, "This family is living in sin. This is very bad." And if you say that second thing - how do you stop the kids from going uncared for?

      I really do appreciate your comment.

  2. I haven't seen or heard of this show yet, but it seems like I should suffer through at least one episode before I draw too many conclusions. From what I see here, it sounds as if it's wrapped up in a neat little package of stereotypes, which is sad. (Police officer abusing spouse...birth parent using child to further a victim mentality...) I can't really comment on the sexual morality peice. My personal life experience has taught me that it takes both partners wanting to try, being open to change, operating out of a place of love and forgiveness to stay together and truly work things out.

    One thing is certain though: Good things often come from bad situations. Heck, if it weren't for my teenage bio mom sneaking around with an older man, I wouldn't be here to write this. So, in my book, kids are some of the best things. ;)

    I like the basic idea of the show, from what I've read here, but had that it appears to be hanging itself in stereotypes.

    1. Thanks for your comment, J! I'd be so interested to know what you think of the show. I'm pretty sure it's still available for viewing online :)


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