Why every parent should see “Instant Family”

Instant Family, movie, foster care, adoption
Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne star as parents in “Instant Family,” opening Friday, Nov. 16. Photo: facebook.com/InstantFamily

As a foster-adoptive parent, seeing the new movie “Instant Family” hit home on many levels. Our family has personally experienced similar versions of nearly every scene.

Even if you have no experience at all with the foster care system, or the kids who live in it, you should go see this movie.

Enter to win tickets to “Instant Family”

I was fortunate to attend a special advanced screening of the movie courtesy of AASK (Aid to Adoption of Special Kids) Arizona, the agency that supported our family through the adoption of our youngest son.

While there, I was privileged to meet the film’s writer/director, Sean Anders, who adopted three children out of California’s foster care system. I was curious: What compelled him to turn his life story into a comedic film?

Instant Family, movie, adoption, foster care
“Instant Family” writer/director Sean Anders with RAK contributor Amy Carney.

“When I got into this and learned about the classes, the social workers, the foster care system and the kids, I didn’t know anything about any of it. If it’s touched on in [other] movies, I feel like it’s touched on in a more distant way,” says Anders. “My real experience was funny, and it was warm, and it was heartbreaking, and it was warm, and it was funny. I thought if we could make a movie that captures all of that, then that would be a movie people would want to go see.”

Capturing it perfectly is what he and writer John Morris did.

The movie features Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) stumbling into the world of foster care adoption as they decide to start a family. The couple hopes to take in one small child, but when they meet three siblings, including a rebellious 15-year-old girl (Isabela Moner), they find themselves speeding from zero to three kids overnight. Pete and Ellie must (hilariously) learn the ropes of instant parenthood to become a family.

More from Amy Carney: “5 Truths ‘Instant Family’ Exposes about Foster Care, Adoption”

“Instant Family” is not only funny, it’s full of heartwarming and heartbreaking scenes about the realities of navigating the imperfect journey of foster care and adoption. The film brilliantly shows that it doesn’t take perfect parents to do this — just loving and willing ones, preferably with a sense of humor.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a foster child or a foster or adoptive parent — or how you can support those who do it — please go see this film. I promise you will learn, and you will laugh. And if you are like me, you will even shed some tears, too.

“My hope is that the result of the movie is that more people are educated about how this stuff works. And more than anything that maybe more people when they’re starting a family or adding to their family will consider these kids, as there are so many of them out there,” says Anders. “And then possibly this little comedy could help directly lead to kids finding families and homes.”

The film, rated PG-13, opens Friday, Nov. 16, just before National Adoption Day on Saturday, Nov. 17.

Amy Carney is a Paradise Valley writer, speaker and founder of Parent on Purpose. The mother of five children ages 11 to 17, she is married to retired pro hockey defenseman Keith Carney, who played for the Phoenix Coyotes. Learn more at amycarney.com