The HHS highlighting of the new movie Instant Family may be highlighting what seems to be a small trend in movies at least this year. It may be coincidence or interest but there are several movies this year that hit on child welfare or child welfare related issues from becoming a foster family, to past adoption practices to conversion therapy to a father struggling with his son’s opioid addiction. In Instant Family a couple decides to adopt a child from foster care and end up with a family of three siblings.
Conversion therapy is also an issue that surfaces in the placement of some children and youth in foster care and the issue is getting some focus in a new movie that is currently in movie theaters. A Boy Erased is a true story of an 18 year-old college student whose parents forced him into a residential conversion therapy program by his Baptist pastor father and his mother. A Boy Erased comes a few months after the Miseducation of Cameron Post another story about a teenage girl who is forced into a gay conversion therapy center by her caretaker aunt.
Another true story and documentary now available on pay-per-view and in movie theaters this past summer is Three Identical Strangers. The documentary starts out describing the feel-good story of three 19-year-old brothers who are triplets and who are accidentally reunited after being adopted. While they gained national fame and curiosity in the early 1980s as the public was fascinated by their story, the truth, as the documentary highlights, is much darker. The boys were part of an experiment that involved them and an unknow number of twins who were purposely separated at birth as part of a social experiment and research. The three infants were split ups and adopted at six months of age to see how three different sets of parents at different income levels would affect their upbringing. They along with an unknown number of twins were placed as part of a research deal between the largest child welfare/adoption agency in New York City in the early 1960s with a researcher who tracked each child’s development while all the children and their adoptive parents knew nothing about the existence of the other siblings.
Finally, if the opioid crisis has focused the attention of the nation on the crisis, the movie Beautiful Boy is also the true story of a father struggles with his teenage son’s addition to methamphetamines and heroine. The true story is based on a memoir by the father and a separate account by his son. It shows just how painful the addiction is on the parents, family and the son as he continues to relapse in fighting his addiction.