Feeling inspired after watching Instant Family?

Learn more about adopting from foster care

Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne and three children they adopt eating at a diner.

The movie Instant Family, which premiered in theaters across the country on November 16, tells the story of Pete and Ellie, a couple who adopt a 15-year-old girl and her little brother and sister from foster care.

The film is based on the director’s experience of adopting several years ago.

Did you see Instant Family and wonder how typical Pete and Ellie’s experiences are—and if foster care is for you? Then read on!

At the start of the movie, the caseworkers immediately start talking about how families are needed for teens. Is this true—and why?

Unfortunately, it is true. Each year, nearly 20,000 teens age out of foster care without a permanent family. There are many reasons for this, primary among them that when many people think about adopting, they envision adding a baby or young child to their family. Other people may think that older children don’t need to be adopted because they are almost adults.

But children of all ages need families and the sense of belonging that brings. Adopting a teen has many benefits to them—and to you.

Pete and Ellie are a successful couple who live in a big house. Do you need a large home and a lot of money to foster and adopt?

No! Adopting a child from foster care is often funded by the state, and in most cases there are few or no fees.

The qualities you do need to adopt from foster care include being financially stable, mature, flexible, and able to advocate for children. Having a sense of humor helps, too!

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The children Pete and Ellie adopt—Lizzie, Juan, and Lita—come into foster care because their mother is addicted to drugs and neglected them. Is this typical?

Sadly, yes, substance abuse is one of the primary reasons that children are removed from their parent’s care.

Want to learn more about the kids who come into care? Click through our interactive modules to learn about why children need families and what kind of families are needed.

The children are very close and are adopted together. Is this always the case?

When possible and in the children’s best interests, yes.

For many children in foster care, their brother or sister has been the only constant presence in their lives—the only person who understands and shares their experiences and can help them make sense of their new lives. Keeping siblings together can help them adjust to a new home and prevent a lifetime of longing and searching for lost brothers and sisters

Octavia Spencer, Tig Notaro, Mark Wahlberg, and Rose Byrne in Instant Family

Once Pete and Ellie decided to adopt, the process went pretty quickly. How long does it usually take?

This is a tough question to answer! You can count on spending about 9–18 months getting approved to adopt—including taking classes and completing a “home study.” The matching period is more difficult to assign a time range to, because it varies so much from family to family.

Once you do have a child placed in your home, you will be their foster parent for at least six months before you can finalize their adoption.

If I’m ready to get started, where do I begin?

Let us help you connect with your state: