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ABC Family Welcomes a New Kind of Family: 'The Fosters'

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.

CIERRA RAMIREZ, TERI POLO, JAKE T. AUSTIN

My first impression of ABC Family’s new show The Fosters, was that it seemed to be taking on a lot of issues. A mixed-race lesbian couple raising multi-ethic adopted kids, as well as a bio kid? Plus they are foster parents? How could one show take on so much?

Was it a show about the Foster care system? About same sex parents? About teens in crisis?

When I went to visit the set, all of these questions were swirling around in my head. But not for long. Ten minutes into my first interview, with Maia Mitchell, who plays troubled teen “Callie”, I had my answer.

The Fosters is not a show about lesbians, or a show about adoption, or a show about cops, or musicians or any one of the numerous issues or characters that the writers and talented cast will bring to life.

The Fosters is a show about love, and family. Whatever shape that package comes in.

It’s about time!

Whether or not you find the premise of this show controversial, the fact of the matter is that millions of Americans live in families that might be labeled “non-traditional”. Yet those families are rich in the one tradition that has always bound families everywhere, for all time.

Love.

I have teens and I constantly hear from them and their friends that tv families don’t reflect their reality, a reality that frequently includes divorce and in some cases, same sex parents. My children’s friends come from families with mixed races and ethnicities, multiple religions, and siblings from prior relationships. Their family trees have grafted limbs.

Teri Polo, who plays one of the moms, said that she “didn’t feel particularly brave” taking on the role. There are a lot of jobs that require more bravery than acting, she noted. What she did feel was validated. She said it was uplifting to be a part of a show that recognizes and celebrates loving relationships.

Listening to all of the actors speak about their characters and the plot lines that promise to unfold over the course of the first season, I am a little dazzled by Executive Producer Jennifer Lopez’s vision. The Fosters promises depth, with multiple story lines and many layers.

Sort of like real life.

When my family gathers for celebrations, there are faces from multiple races and followers of multiple religions. I am a mother of both adopted and biological children. This is also my personal reality and I feel validated too.

Before the end of the interview, Teri Polo and I discussed the simplicity of explaining same sex parents and relationships to our five year olds.

Five year old kids don’t even blink. They understand the concept of two people loving each other. They haven’t grown into a narrowly prescribed formula for family. They understand love. How awesome to preserve that spirit! As a parent, this is a noble and fantastic goal.

Television is a powerful medium, and of course I hope this show brings more acceptance and love into the world. Not by introducing a new concept though. It doesn’t have to. It can do this by reflecting and celebrating the sometimes complex and diverse relationships that define families today.

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