Almost five years ago, the first episode of The Fosters aired on ABC Family. Those in the foster care community were excited that finally a tv show was giving a more realistic (both fuller and nuanced) portrayal of foster care and adoption issues.
I don't think there were shows preceding The Fosters that wove so much about foster care and adoption into a portrayal of family. A more usual story line would be the orphaned child who suffered at the hands of adults and/or persevered against all odds until being "rescued" by a loving parent.
Does the accuracy of screen portrayals matter?
I think it does. Barriers to more teens in foster care finding adoptive families include a lack of public awareness that there are teens who want families and misperceptions of who those teens are. Mainstream shows that portray teens realistically may lead to more adults deciding to get involved, possibly to consider adoption.
The Fosters is just ending its run (although with a spin-off to start soon). The good news of course is This is Us, which has a much high viewership and thus is bringing its equally accurate portrayal of foster care to a wider audience.
We can only hope that more teens will find family as a result.
Read the rest of the DCFYI February newsletter here.