Remember My Story
by Addison Cooper
For National Foster Care Month in May, filmmakers Nathanael and Christina Matanick invited us to revisit the life of Zoe, a young girl who came into foster care because of domestic violence. Remember My Story is a 20-minute short film, and is the continuation of last year’s powerful viral hit, ReMoved. Remember My Story is deeply insightful and emotionally powerful, as it shares a child’s journey through foster care in her own words and voice, and through her own eyes.
As we start the film, Zoe is doing well in the home of her foster brother. She takes joy in being able to share a home and a life with infant Benaiah. Zoe’s foster mother continues to be patient and understanding while advocating for Zoe, while her mother continues to go through the court process. In court, a judge has to make decisions that will have an impact on Zoe, Benaiah, and the people who love them. Zoe eventually learns that Benaiah’s continued placement with her may come to an end, if he is adopted by another couple. When faced with the possibility of traumatic losses over which she has no control, Zoe relates herself to Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, feeling that, like Dorothy, she is subject to the whims of an unpredictable and violent storm.
Remember My Story is successful in its attempt to be circumspect and balanced. Zoe’s mother clearly articulates that she loves her children. A judge responds that the question he must evaluate isn’t whether she loves her children, but whether she has maintained a parental relationship with them. Zoe does experience some losses, and her relationship with Benaiah changes, but does not end. Their relationship is subject to the choices of the judge, social workers, Zoe’s foster mother, Benaiah’s prospective adoptive parents, and even Zoe’s mother.
As is perhaps often the case for young children in foster care, the only people without voices seem to be Zoe and Benaiah. In the midst of this position of vulnerability, Zoe challenges adult viewers, “You see your story, not mine. You can’t heal me. This is my story. I have to make peace with it.”
For such a short film, Remember My Story captures a broad range of the aspects and emotions of the foster-adoption process. The film shares a window into a “goodbye” visit with Zoe and her mother, in which Zoe’s mother is told that she will not see her child again. It shares a brief glimpse into court, where a judge finds out that there is no Court Appointed Special Advocate present to represent Zoe’s best interests. The film also follows the pattern of ReMoved—we see Zoe act angrily and hatefully toward her foster mother, while showing clearly that her actions are flowing from her anger at her life circumstances. Zoe’s kind and loving foster mother is very understanding. Zoe indicts other adults, saying, “You see what I do, but forget why.” Zoe’s foster mother comforts her and encourages her to survive the storm in which she finds herself. As a young adult, Zoe is able to offer similar words of encouragement to another child in care.
Remember My Story is very effective. I found myself feeling angered, sad, hopeful, and joyful. These emotions are very real in foster care for the adults involved, as well as for the kids. Remember My Story has the potential to help adults develop compassion and understanding for kids in foster care. It’s a very authentic and compassionate film. This film is a can’t-miss for adults who care about kids in care.
Interested in seeing Remember My Story? Here’s a list of upcoming screenings: http://removedfilm.com/
You can also watch Remember My Story above or on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1fGmEa6WnY
Want to help kids in foster care but not sure how? Check out the flowchart at http://www.adoptionlcsw.com/2015/05/remember-my-story-removed-part-2.html
Addison Cooper, LCSW, is the founder of Adoption at the Movies (www.adoptionlcsw.com), where he invites families to use film to engage each other in important conversations. Find him at www.facebook.com/AdoptionAtTheMovies or on Twitter @AddisonCooper.