Film Explores All Sides of Foster Care
Like many people, Vermont film producer and director Bess O’Brien was aware of foster care but didn’t know much about it.
That is, until a former foster child named Kellie Coakley, 26, saw one of O’Brien’s films and telephoned her a few days later with a proposition.
“Kellie said, ‘You don’t know who I am and I don’t know what your next film will be but it would be great to do a film about foster care because we are so invisible and nobody knows our story,’” O’Brien told SocialWorkersSpeak.org.
That conversation led to O’Brien making “Ask Us Who We Are,” a 2011 documentary that lets Vermont foster children, birth parents, relatives, foster parents and others give first-hand accounts of what the system means to them.
Some of the stories from the foster children about coming from homes where they were abused or neglected are harrowing. Others talk about how disorienting it can be to be uprooted from a family they love, despite the problems, and how being in the foster care systems can be stigmatizing.
There are also stories of hope and resiliency. For instance Cindy, a mother who gave her daughter up for adoption, ended up bonding with the adoptive family who welcomed her into their lives. Their positive support has allowed Cindy to maintain a relationship with her daughter and given her the motivation to stay off drugs.
“What a wonderful example of how these things could be done if they are really done well,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien, who runs Kingdom County Productions film company with her husband Jay Craven, has shown the 75-minute film across Vermont. Her company has now developed an educational package around the film and want to show it across the United States.
She hopes the film can be used to educate social workers and others about all facets of the foster care system from the people who must deal with it at the most intimate levels.
“We didn’t want experts,” she said. “We just wanted stories coming from the people who are involved in the foster care system.”
You can watch a trailer of “Ask Us Who We Are” on Youtube by clicking here. To learn more about the film and to arrange a screening for your organization, click here. And to learn how social workers help children in foster care visit the National Association of Social Workers’ “Help Starts Here” Adoptions and Foster Care website by clicking here.| Leave A Comment