Socialworkersspeaks on FacebookFollow Us on TwitterRSS Feed

“Instant Family” shows challenges and joys of foster care, adoption

Movie poster

Movie poster

In the film “Instant Family” Pete and Ellie (actors Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne) are an attractive, successful couple nearing middle age who become foster parents for three Latinx siblings.

But don’t look for this dramedy to be the usual, formulaic film movie about white saviors who come in to rescue brown or black people in distress. “Instant Family,” shows the difficulties and rewards of becoming a foster or adoptive parent in a realistic, moving and inspiring way.

The film covers all the stages foster parents go through. The honeymoon period when the children first come to a new home and revel in their new rooms and toys. The trauma and anger that can prompt  children who are in foster care to act out and disrespect their foster parents. The issues that occur when parents foster and adopt children of different races or cultures. And the patience and love that is needed when new families are created through adoption.

“This  film is a must-see,” said National Association of Social Workers Chief Executive Officer Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW, who moderated a Q&A session after a screening of the film at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. on November 13. “It will delight and entertain viewers while shining a spotlight on the joys and challenges of adopting foster youth.”

Watch the trailer for the film and find out where it is playing near you at

Director and writer Sean Anders, who has done raunchy comedies such as “Dumb and Dumber To” and “Hot Tub Time Machine,” based this family film  on the experiences of himself and his wife Beth, who adopted three children. The Anders, who were at the screening Washington, D.C., hope the film will encourage other people to consider fostering and adopting.

NASW CEO Angelo McClain with "Instant Family" Director and Writer Sean Anders (right) and his wife, Beth.

NASW CEO Angelo McClain with “Instant Family” Director and Writer Sean Anders (right) and his wife, Beth.

“People have made moves on this topic but never got into the dirt of how it works,” Anders said. He went on to say that most films focus on the tragedy and trauma surrounding foster care and adoption but his movie “focuses on the wonderful families that come out of this.”

Beth and Sean Anders credited social workers with being by their side throughout the adoption process, helping them overcome the emotional hurdles of the process.

That is why Sean Anders has two strong social worker roles in the film. Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro portray social workers Karen and Sharon, who run a support group for foster and adoptive parents.

There are about 500,000 foster children in the United States and not enough people willing to be foster or adoptive parents. Social worker Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), who spoke at the screening, said considering the wealth of the United States “the least we can do is provide families for children.”

McClain hopes “Instant Family” will raise awareness about this issue.

“Everybody please go see this movie and talk about it with your friends,” he said. “This film is an opportunity for us to change the narrative on adopting foster children.”

Social workers play a significant role in foster care and adoption, helping children find permanence. To learn more visit the National Association of Social Workers’ Help Starts Here Adoptions and Foster Care webpage.


|   Leave A Comment
Tagged as: ,



  1. I’m connected and working as a social worker in private foster agency located in United Kingdom More than two year’s recently we organize workshop for newly foster parents to educate them through the help of this wonderful movie called “Instant Family” on the topic of faster care and adoptions this is one the successful workshop we organize and amazing results we get.

  2. I am adopted and can relate to the movie instant family and when I grow up I want to help childern thjta are going through what I went through and still am.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.