Good day, friends!
Here’s something that I know: I love my family. Sure, we’ve all got our flaws, and sometimes we drive each other crazy. But we all love each other to death. We’re all still here. And really, that’s huge. Because not everyone has that.
Here’s something else that I know: In an ideal world, families wouldn’t break.
Families were made to be together, to look out for each other, and to love each other.
But we all know that that isn’t what always happens. In real life, a lot of families fracture in ways that can never be healed.
It’s a tragedy that I can’t seem to get out of my head.
Since I live most of my life through the world of fiction, this post is about Fantastic Foster Families in books and movies. These are people that inspire me, people that I look up to because they found a way to keep going after something that should never have been taken from them was lost for whatever reason. And in some cases, people who found a way to piece a family together out of sharp edges and broken parts that they thought nobody could want.
Sheesh, I haven’t even gotten to the stories yet and I already want to cry.
Here is the definition of foster care according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary: “a situation in which for a period of time a child lives with and is cared for by people who are not the child’s parents.”
This post isn’t just about the foster care system. The above definition is my criteria.
And finally, on to the actual list.
Hollis Woods and the Regans- Pictures of Hollis Woods
Hollis was abandoned by her mother as a baby and has moved from foster home to foster home ever since. When she spends one summer with the Regans- a kindly couple and their son Steven- she connects with them and thinks that maybe she has found a family. But something happens that makes her think they won’t want her. That she’s not good enough for their family. LIES, ALL LIES.
Hollis has grown up thinking of herself as a problem, and it’s hard for her to comprehend that anyone could love her for who she is, with all of her mistakes. She doesn’t realize that she doesn’t have to prove anything. She’s already worth it, and the Regans try to show her that.
Sasha and Phyllis- Free Verse
Sasha is grieving the loss of her brother, Michael, who was a firefighter. Her father died in a mining accident a few years previously. Her mother ran off years before that. Sometimes Sasha breaks things without trying to.
Phyllis understands that Sasha is hurting. She gives her space. But she is there at three o’clock in the morning with egg salad sandwiches. She is there to teach Sasha how to make muffins. She is there to encourage Sasha to join the poetry club. She is there to lean on even when Sasha isn’t her responsibility anymore.
She was the person that was there when no one else could be.
Jacob, John and Marta- The Boy on the Porch
Jacob just shows up on their porch (hence, the title) and they have no idea where he came from, or who he is. They decide to love him.
The thing I love about this book is that John and Marta respond to a child’s need with open arms. That seems like the obvious course of action, but how often do we turn a blind eye to someone in need right in front of us?
The other thing I love is how much Jacob changed their lives. After he is gone, they decide to open their home to other children, and that just melts my heart.
Joseph and the Hurds- Orbiting Jupiter
Yes, I am talking about Orbiting Jupiter on my blog AGAIN. I can be obnoxious when I want to be.
Joseph’s dad is EVIL. Okay, well, pretty much. And Joseph has gone through STUFF. He won’t let anyone touch him or stand behind him. He is a broken, lovely child who needs a home, and thankfully the Hurds give that to him.
I know I have talked about this like fifty times before, but the Hurds’ son Jack does his best to be Joseph’s friend even though he can’t possibly comprehend what Joseph has gone through. And Joseph is brave enough to accept the Hurds even after all the pain that he’s undergone and I am probably still crying about that.
We can’t always understand each other. That’s just reality. All we can do is try to understand as best we can, and love each other even when understanding fails.
Explanation: the following stories are stellar books that also have stellar movie adaptions. It’s a win-win.
Liesel and the Hubermanns- The Book Thief
This book. This movie. ALL OF IT.
It’s Nazi Germany, folks. Liesel has never met her father. Her brother is dead. Her mother has been taken away. And now she’s been dropped off on Himmel Street to live with Hans and Rosa Hubermann.
Liesel was a scared little girl with nowhere to go. She needed the Hubermanns. But the beautiful thing is that the Hubermanns needed Liesel too.
This story is so amazing I can’t even describe it in a way that does it justice. You have to meet these fantastic people for yourself.
Gilly, William Ernest, and Maime Trotter- The Great Gilly Hopkins
…and the movie happens to star the same actress that’s in The Book Thief.
Gilly doesn’t want to be here. She’s stuck with some lady and a stupid kid that wets the bed and she wants out. She’s tough, and she can take care of herself. She dreams of reuniting with her mother, and she knows she is the one who has to make that happen.
She spends so much effort chasing after something she wants when the family she needed was there all along. It’s such an old story, and it’s been told in so many ways, but that’s because it’s so true. We all do this with something.
Anne and the Cuthberts- Anne of Green Gables
Brother and sister Matthew and Marilla weren’t expecting Anne. But she ends up having as positive of an impact on their lives as they have on hers.
Everyone knows this story, right? You take three lonely people, (sure Matthew and Marilla had each other, but they were still lonely) put them together and you have a family. The world is full of so many lonely people. What if we took a chance and invited some of them in? What do you think would happen?
Briar Rose, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather- Sleeping Beauty
The fairies are what make this movie. And they are noteworthy foster parents- even if they don’t know how to make cake. Nobody’s perfect, you know.
The fairies are fiercely loyal and care for Briar Rose as if she is their own, saving her life multiple times throughout the movie. They really are the real heroes of the film.
Billy, Freddy, Darla, Eugene, Mary, Pedro, Rosa, and Victor- Shazam!
I love this picture but Darla is not in it and that makes me UPSET.
…There’s my baby.
What is a cheesy superhero movie doing on this heartfelt list? LET ME TELL YOU.
Did I like the fight sequences? Well, no. Did I like the plot? Well, no. Did I think that the villain was interesting? Well, no.
But this family. I fell in love with this family because I am a sucker for this kind of thing. Also they are just wonderful.
Billy is that kid who thinks he doesn’t need a family. He has run away from foster homes 23 times. Like Gilly in The Great Gilly Hopkins, he is looking for a mom who probably doesn’t want him.
But his new foster family isn’t going to let him go so easily.
One thing that I love so much about this family is that every single member of it is from a family that was broken. Victor and Rosa, the foster parents, were both foster kids as well. But they are breaking the cycle of brokenness by creating a loving home and giving these kids what NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN FROM THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE and DESTROYING THE LIES THAT TELL THEM THEY AREN’T WORTH IT and I get way too freaked out about this, okay.
So as a superhero movie? Meh. But as a movie about family? YES YES YES.
As you may have noticed, I get worked up about this stuff. Every human being has an intrinsic value that is not diminished by any amount of abuse or damage, and there are so many things in this world that try to tell us that that’s not true. There are kids growing up all over the world believing lies about themselves, believing that they are mistakes, that they have to earn love, because no one has taken the time to show them any different.
Most of these stories show the cycle breaking, or at the very least, keep the cycle from beginning at all. And that’s why they mean so much to me.
I want to be the sort of person that makes people feel loved, not someone who enforces lies about who they are.
What do you think about family and what happens when it breaks? Do any of these stories impact you? What are some of your favorite books and movies about foster care?