I went to watch a film at the cinema last week. This was a film I’d been looking forward to seeing for months. The trailer was really funny, seemed realistic and I have even shared it at an adoption and fostering event, as well as recommending to all my friends.
The film I’m talking about is called Instant Family. It’s about an American couple who decide to foster and later adopt a group of three children. At last, I thought, a film that might show more of a realistic view of what it’s like to adopt.
However, I was sorry to say that it turned into a traumatic event for myself and my own three teenagers. This film is billed as a family film and whilst I’ve heard many good reviews I was shocked at my own reaction as well as the tremendous triggers of distress it caused for my children.
Whilst you do need a sense of humour within adoption and fostering I left the cinema feeling sick at the fact that entertainment has been made from people’s real-life trauma. My children, and many like them, will struggle with the themes throughout this film – separation from siblings, conflicting feelings about birth parents, not feeling loved and wanted, feeling like outsiders, immense sense of shame, and many, many, more emotions. Trauma is a serious thing. It affects so many lives and is not something to be taken lightly.
I’m sure this wasn’t the intention of the film and I know that it may encourage others to adopt or foster, which is great. However, we need to always keep in mind the children in adoption – whilst the adoptive parents in the story are important and the interactions with social workers and other adopters was realistic, the tragedy of adoption is huge. There is so much loss and creating comedy scenes from children’s reaction to incredibly traumatic circumstances was just too much for me.
For my children, 15, 16 and 18 years old, this film has made a real lasting impact. Some of that has encouraged us to talk more about their struggles but I would have liked to have been more prepared for that. Yes, I probably should have done more research into the content of the film before taking my teenagers along, but I didn’t see ANYTHING in any of the reviews or trailers for this film that would indicate the amount of anguish it would elicit.
Since watching the film I have heard other teenagers (not adopted) talking and laughing about the film and how funny and heart-warming it is. With my own daughter sat there listening to her friends and knowing that they are talking about her life, was quite upsetting. How many times have I done that I wonder with other films and the topics they represent?
I came across another blog after watching the film that gives a more rounded view. My own opinion is that I would not recommend this to any other adopters and their children particularly if they are struggling. Life is hard enough as it is without having to process the feelings this film may evoke. I think we will stick to marvel and action films next time.