The F Word | F Is for: Foster Care Q&A
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the respondents.
In "The F Word | F Is for: Foster Care," Filmmakers Nicole Opper and Kristan Cassady embark on an exciting journey to expand their family. PBS spoke with Kristan and Nicole about the process of adoption from foster care and the lessons they've learned along the way.
PBS: When did you decide to begin documenting this chapter of your life? What has been the hardest part of going through the foster care system? The most rewarding?
Nicole Opper and Kristan Cassady: We decided to document this journey when we first set out to learn about adoptions through foster care and had trouble finding any sort of stories or examples in the media about it. We found some decent books about the system and about the experience of being a foster youth, but nothing that gave us a picture of what we’d be walking into as prospective parents. It was all kind of nebulous and mysterious. We were really missing those authentic voices of foster and adoptive parents, adoptees, and foster youth, and decided to go in search ourselves. Then we realized we could help pull back the curtain on this process for others thinking about going through it.
"We were really missing those authentic voices of foster and adoptive parents, adoptees, and foster youth, and decided to go in search ourselves."
PBS: Skyler and Makeda were your “childproofing inspectors.” What was the most valuable or surprising advice you learned from them?
Nicole and Kristan: There was a very sweet moment that didn’t make the cut when I made some joke to the kids about keeping a secret and they both got very serious and said, “We don’t keep secrets in this family.” It stopped me in my tracks! That’s some good parenting! And it also points to the goal of our series: Let’s be transparent, let’s do away with secrecy! This is what has long defined the child welfare system and it’s keeping people from engaging and reforming it. We also learned to move our knives up about five inches higher and that candles can be dangerous.
PBS: We see an emotional moment between the two of you as you discuss your fears going into this journey. What do you hope other parents who are adopting can take away from your film? Do you have any advice for them?
Nicole: I hope other parents will ignore my anxieties and put all of their attention on Kristan, who likes to say, “Hey, you don’t know when you first fall in love if it’s a love that will last. Maybe you’ll get your heart broken but you’re still going to go all in. A foster kid deserves no less.”
Kristan: My hope is to show other parents that we are all flawed, but that should never determine if we have a big enough heart to love a child. Don’t let those insecurities and fears stop you (easier said than done, I know). Advice? Take every day as it comes. Live in the moment and open your home and heart to every possibility that being a foster parent can bring.