This guest blog post was written by Courtney Knoll.
ABC Family recently started airing promos for their upcoming series, produced by Jennifer Lopez, "The Fosters," set to air in June. It was highlighted this on the website BuzzFeed. Featuring a "multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms," the show is already creating a stir of backlash. The trailer asserts, "It's not where you come from, it's where you belong," and highlights a few short moments that bring to light some tension within fostering, such as developing trust amongst foster parents/siblings and the desire to reconnect with biological parents.
It appears the show will wrestle with the definitions of family and what constitutes family, a topic crucial in supporting foster youth with identity and a sense of belonging. "The Fosters" are not only unique because of the blended nature of the family, but also because the parents are two lesbian women, bringing to light that LGBT folks are equally equipped to parent and parent well. (See the 3/5/13 posting of this blog).
The primary voice in opposition to the show is a group that calls themselves "One Million Moms," who are a group of Christian women trying to protect their children from the influences of media. In the case of "The Fosters," they claim
"While foster care and adoption is a wonderful thing and the Bible does teach us to help orphans, this program is attempting to redefine marriage and family by having two moms raise these children together" (see full statement here).
Defining family is proving an ever increasing topic in the modern day, but is especially pertinent to youth in the foster care system where the people they consider to be "family" might not conform to everyday norms and typical definitions. As we continue to wrestle with gay marriage, it is becoming clear that adoption by same-sex couples is an intertwined conversation, since adoption can be one of the most feasible ways for LGBT couples to build their families. For youth in care, it maybe be potentially healing or affirming to see more atypical families glorified in the media. However, the risk of the show is the potential that it could perpetuate stereotypes of foster youth and also, of LGBT families. Several comments on Jennifer's website as well as on the show's Facebook Page, One particular post stood out on JLO's website of a former foster youth who hopes the show will show the diversity of foster youth. She said,
"I myself was a foster kid and hate how tv shows portray us foster kids to be, not all the kids are bad and shoot careworkers and the system is not as nice as they pretend to be..."
We will have to wait until June to find out how JLO and the show's writers will present family and foster youth. Hopefully, the power of the media will bring a positive, accurate light to foster care and adoption!
Here's a sneak peek at the trailer!