Friday, June 21, 2013

The Fosters Episodes 2 and 3 Recap

Two weeks ago, I watched the first episode of ABC’s “The Fosters,” a Jennifer Lopez-produced series about a multicultural, two-mom foster and adoptive family. I was impressed by the first show, and named seven things to like about the Fosters. I also had some concerns, including a plotline involving the Fosters’ adopted daughter, Mariana, selling her brother Jesus’ prescription drugs in order to have money to give to her birthmother.

Two more episodes have been released, and they’re available for instant viewing on ABCFamily – one expires in a couple days, so click over soon if you want to see it.

The storylines continue to unfold, and it seems as though storylines will be carried across multiple episodes. Callie was reunited with her younger brother, Jude, at the end of the first episode when she and her foster brother Brandon rescued him from an abusive foster home. Jude continues to adjust to the Fosters’ home. Leah and Steph promise never to split Jude and Callie up. Jude likes it, and wants to stay, but seems somewhat nervous: he asks foster mother Leah if she has any chores for him to do, explaining that “families who aren’t going to send me away, right away, usually give me chores.” He has enrolled at the school where Leah is employed, but his enrollment is threatened because his performance isn’t up to school standards. Leah pleads for the school to have understanding for his situation – he has been in seven schools in the last four years – but the school is unremitting, and requires that he take and pass a standardized test in order to stay enrolled. Talk about feeling like you have to earn your way into a family.

Callie has been scapegoated as the source of a drug problem at the school. Although she is innocent, Steph and Leah are quick to believe her to be guilty. When she is shown to be innocent, Steph and Leah apologize. Callie shares a room with Mariana, the daughter whom Steph and Leah adopted from foster care. Callie struggles to trust her, but Mariana understands, “Why should you trust me? I’m just the latest girl you’ve been forced to share a room with. I remember what that was like, being passed around all the time. I don’t think I ever felt safe until I got here. It took me a long time to trust anybody. So I get it.”

Callie’s and Jude’s social worker meets with Steph and Leah and explains that the children have been in foster care for years, and have never maintained a placement for more than six months. He explains that they are “really great kids” that “just have bad luck.” Steph and Leah ask, “So you’re looking for somewhere permanent for them?” The social worker affirms, “Always.” Steph and Leah think about whether they can offer permanency to Callie and Jude, and reach a sort of middle ground. They cannot adopt them, but can commit to being their last placement prior to an adoptive home being found. I still feel for Callie and Jude, who are told, “we don’t know how long you’ll be here – maybe a week, maybe a year.” The stability is certainly incomplete. There is no guarantee that the future adoptive placement would work out. But, for many kids in foster care, this level of stability is a great improvement over their previous experiences.

Mariana continues to seek a relationship with her birthmother, but was hurt when her birthmother seemed to view her “almost like an ATM.” Mariana’s birthmother hopes to be able to explain everything one day. Mariana is hurt and confused. Her brother, Jesus, retains anger towards his birthmother, and hopes that the recent pain that he and Mariana have experienced will be enough to show Mariana “what a loser our birthmother is.”

The show is engaging, and I’m interested to see what happens next. Jude is familiar to me – a young child, bounced around the system, hopeful to belong somewhere, fearful of being excluded, and preemptively trying to avoid being moved. Callie’s character also captures truth – a teenager in the foster care system who is easily prejudged by her foster parents, teachers, and peers. Mariana’s and Jesus’ conflicting emotions regarding their birthmother are valid, but I do struggle with the plot device of the birthmother secretly obtaining money from Mariana, who had to steal and sell her brother’s drugs to obtain it. I also cringe when I follow the plotline of Brandon and his girlfriend Talia. Talia is growing increasingly jealous of the attention Brandon seems to be giving to Callie, and continually throws barbs at Callie.

As insightful as some of the characters are, this is a fictional show. One commenter on the Adoption atthe Movies Facebook page explained, “The problems presented are true, but the ending is a little too fairytale.” That’s true. And at the same time, the show continues to present a loving and realistically imperfect foster family. It provides a positive depiction of foster families who take in teenagers. It has shown good insight into characters’ feelings – Mariana’s explanation of Callie’s lack of trust was excellent. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look. Episodes 2 and 3are available for instant streaming here.

Interested in more foster- and adoption-themed TV Shows? Check out my reviews of:

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