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Families come in all shapes, colors and sizes

Thanks to ABC Family’s new series The Fosters for sponsoring this post.  Click here to see more of the discussion. Also, watch the series premiere of The Fosters on Monday, June 3 at 9/8c only on ABC Family.

The Fosters shows how families have evolvedLong gone are the days in which a family was defined by a mom, a dad and their children. Thank goodness we’ve moved past that stereotype, since reality has shown us over and over again that what makes a family is the love that bonds its members together.

A new TV series wants to makes us reflect on how the concept of family has evolved. The Fosters, which premiers on ABC Family on June 3rd at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT and counts Jennifer Lopez, Benny Medina and Peter Paige among its executive producers, is groundbreaking in so many ways. Not only does it show a multi-ethnic family with two moms, but it also throws into the mix a biological son, adopted twins and the reality of foster children.  The parents are different races, and some of the kids speak Spanish when they don’t want others to understand them. Yes, it might sound a bit confusing, but that’s how real life usually is.

I was able to watch an advance screening of the pilot episode and it blew me away. Even if it’s fiction and geared towards a family audience (although I wouldn’t recommend it for kids under 10), it gives you much food for thought about the sometimes brutal reality too many children in the foster system live every single day. Yes, there is a happy ending, but not before you can see the drama unfold and actually begin caring about the characters. The soundtrack also draws you into the story and was outstanding by itself.

However, what I enjoyed the most was being able to see a different kind of family than the ones we are used to seeing on television. It doesn’t glamorize the challenges blended families face, or shy away from showing gay parents being affectionate with each other. The series even addresses the questions many have when they see a “non-traditional” family, so it opens the door for a much-needed conversation between teens and their parents about adoption, adopted children, same sex parents and foster kids. Seeing diversity helps us teach our children respect and tolerance.

Yes, I know I am quite liberal, but it’s time to recognize that what makes a parent is the love they feel for their children.  Giving birth does not make you a mom, as one of the show’s characters painfully realizes. Parenting goes beyond biology, race and gender and is more about choosing to stick by your kids and loving them even when they seem to deserve it the least. To paraphrase Stef Foster, played by Teri Polo, it’s about showing our children that they aren’t disposable, and that they are worthy of our love.

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