Instant Family - Movie Reviews From Families Who Have Adopted From Foster Care In WV

Movie Synopsis: In the movie Instant Family featuring Mark Wahlberg (Pete) and Rose Byrne (Ellie) a couple learns both the joys and frustrations of parenthood when they decide to foster and ultimately adopt three siblings. After buying a new large home, Pete and Ellie “stumble” into the world of foster care adoption. Initially, they hoped to take in one young child but after meeting a rebellious 15 year old girl who caught their attention, they find themselves fostering her and her two younger siblings. Pete and Ellie have a lot of learning to do as they learn the ropes of instant parenthood and becoming an “instant family.”

It is not often that foster care is portrayed in a positive light in the media or for it to get attention in a film with such well-known actors and a director (Sean Anders) with so many hit films. However, this film was written by Sean Anders because he and his wife actually adopted a sibling group of three from foster care and wanted to correct some misconceptions about adoption and “give people an honest look at what adopting kids can really feel like.”  We wondered how parents in WV who have experienced what it is like to adopt children through foster care would perceive the film. We asked a couple families to watch the movie and then share their thoughts by answering a few questions.

Review from a mom in WV who has adopted more than 10 kids of all different ages

What did you like about the movie?  It was pretty on point. The parents evolved to be Foster-parents for the right reason and it showed. The process to achieve permanence was pretty realistic and even the other characters and their reasons for wanting a child were sadly realistic

What did you dislike or wish they had handled differently? The bio-mom case was too simplistic her being capable but choosing to just not take the children back. That isn’t the norm and was extra cruel.

Did any element of the movie remind you of your own foster or adoption journey?  Lots of moments… I could find me in the movie and even my children. My husband said that’s so me. The parts where they struggled to continue on were so real.

Would you recommend the movie to someone considering foster care and/or adoption? Yes it’s a solid start especially if you are just considering the idea, that maybe you might want to foster. I do want to add it may not be great for all foster children. It could bring up emotions and memories they you aren’t wanting to trigger at a movie.


Review from a mom in WV who has adopted two children over the age of 8 from foster care:

What did you like about the movie? We liked everything about the movie, Instant Family. It reminded me of the ups and downs of the process. The family reminded me of our family. It truly shows what happens during the foster and adoption experience. Some family members were super excited while others were not. We had the same experience when the kids come in with little belongings and trash bags it is real life. My son nudged me. When the kids want the boxes instead of the gifts, my son did the same. It broke my heart. Also, my favorite part was the parents marking the kids height on the wall like we do. There were a lot of similarities. My son wants to see it again.

What did you dislike or wish they had handled differently? What I wish they had handled differently was the language in the movie. There is a lot. The parents also become upset and call the kids names and want to return the kids. That was harsh but it happens. I can honestly say my husband and I were scared and felt the same in the beginning. It's hard to admit but it was scary.

Did any element of the movie remind you of your own foster or adoption journey? Every element of the movie reminded me of our adoption story. It was like I WAS the actors and this was my family. The excitement, fear, emotions.

Would you recommend the movie to someone considering foster care and/or adoption? I would recommend this movie to anyone and everyone. It's a great family movie, feel good movie and perfect for someone considering or even on the fence about fostering or adopting. It is real life. You build a bond with these kids and the workers and the other families just like the movie. There wasn't a seat left in the theater, nor a dry eye. At the end of the movie everyone clapped. One of the best movies I've seen.

It seems that overall this film was successful in portraying an accurate picture of what it is like to foster/adopt. While this is a movie and can’t accurately portray all of the real-life situations that can occur in real life, we hope it inspired viewers to consider providing foster care. There are nearly 7,000 kids in foster care in West Virginia right now and there is a dire need for more loving and safe families to provide them with care. If you’ve ever considered foster care/adoption please email fosteradopt(at) or call 866-CALL-MWV.

If you would like to view a trailer of the movie, click here:

Carrie Dawson