Instant Family

InstantFamily.pngI’m generally not a fan of farce, the indulgence of some filmmakers to throw every possible bad thing at characters and laugh at how much sticks. Sometimes, though, true life breaks out in farce. Often enough I think the experience of foster and adoptive families can be believable along these lines.

It was a bit more than twenty years ago the young miss came to live with us. I was thinking about that when my wife stumbled across this movie on one of our streaming platforms. She fell asleep watching it the other night, and I asked for a rewind to enjoy it yesterday. (We did a second rewind from about the twenty-minute mark when the young miss got hoem from work last night.) There was a lot to laugh at. And perhaps more to nod our three heads.

Our experience was similar in basics to the Wagners of the film: we attended thirty-six hours of seminars and workshops, and after two years, an older child was placed in our home. Adoption isn’t automatic, and this film accurately shows the transition from foster placement and the period of adaptation of parents and children.

Maybe the ending comes off as too easy in the movie, but a last-minute disappointment from birth parents is not an uncommon thing. One day before our daughter-to-be was to be reunited with siblings and parents there was an episode of physical abuse. That pretty much sunk the first goal of any adoption social worker: the unification of the family, or as much of it as possible.

I continue to believe the Church misses a primary mission on the adoption front. Rather than scrape for the rare infant surrendered at birth, we would do far better to engage social workers to train couples and families to adopt some of the hundreds of thousands of American children who have no permanent home. Sadly, this goes unrecognized. It illustrates the tunnel vision of the institutional Church. Rather than fuss about “unworthy parents” in the Catholic Charities pipelines, we should be flooding certification programs with prospective parents. And that includes couples who have birth children.

Let’s be clear: adoption is not a cure for childlessness. It is a remedy for people who don’t have parents.

I recommend the movie. It has tearjerker moments. Some difficult, but not dishonest language. Worth watching–it doesn’t avoid the hard realities.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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