A lot of times, my mom and I catch up on television shows later in the week, sometimes a few days after they were actually shown. Tonight was one of those nights when we had the opportunity to watch NBC's "Chicago Fire," which aired on Tuesday while I was working.
If you typically watch "Chicago Fire," but haven't yet seen this week's episode, please know that there are spoilers included in my post tonight.
Here's the thing about this show, which happens to be one of my favorites (in case you were wondering)... It's a show about the members of a Chicago firehouse, the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to fight fires and work as EMTs. But it's not a show only about that; it's a show that constantly wows the audience with story lines revolving around the characters' personal lives as well. This week's episode gave us a glimpse into the personal life of Gabriela Dawson, one of the firefighters.
At the beginning of the episode, a call comes in bringing everyone to an apartment building that's currently engulfed in flames. Dawson and another firefighter work together to check in some of the apartments, ensuring that there is no one left in the building. In one apartment, however, they find a woman collapsed on the floor, alive but not moving. They quickly realize that she hasn't been harmed by smoke inhalation or anything; she has a needle sticking out of her arm. It was, apparently, drug use. While the other firefighter takes the woman out of the building and down to the ambulance for help, Dawson stays behind, locating the woman's child (who they knew was in the apartment because of the toys and whatnot). Sure enough, she finds the little boy and rescues him just in time, right as the building's roof starts to collapse.
Now normally, the story line would just move on from a fire. There would be another call, or something going on with the guys and gals at the station. This time, however, we remain focused on Dawson, who has gone to the hospital with the little boy because he was clinging so tightly to her. That's when the plot hit my mom and I hard. A doctor says that the mother is still being taken care of, so someone is coming from the Department of Children and Family Services to care for the boy. And when the social worker shows up at the hospital? Well, Dawson, and the audience, find out that the woman wasn't the boy's mother at all.... She was the foster mother.
The story continues from there and it was, as usual, an extremely exciting show. But as much as I was drawn in, I couldn't help but think back to that scene with the social worker. My mom and I exchanged comments right after she spoke; of course a foster parent was being portrayed negatively on television again, passing out from drugs even though she had a child in her care.
Now, the whole point of this story was, I believe, to get Dawson invested in foster care. I don't know where the show will be going from here, but as of the end of this week's episode, she was looking into becoming a foster parent. So alright, maybe they'll showcase all of the work that she needs to go through to become a foster parent, and maybe they'll show her being an excellent foster parent when everything's said and done. I have no idea. But in the meantime, audience members in living rooms all over the country were left with an image of an unfit foster mother passed out with a needle in her arm and a child fending for himself. That's not the best picture of a foster parent by any means.
Don't get me wrong, I still absolutely love "Chicago Fire," and it's still one of my favorite shows. I absolutely would love it if we got to see Dawson becoming a foster parent, but only if done in the right light. Things seemed to be off to a good start by the end of this episode, following the typical procedures that foster parents all over the country follow at the start of their journeys. Still, it bothered me the way that the foster mother was portrayed at the beginning of the episode. Why couldn't it just be the child's mother who was doing drugs, and then he still could have been taken by the social worker, and Dawson could have still been so invested in the little boy that she wanted to become a foster parent? But no, it had to be the foster mother.
There are so many more good foster families than the ones who take advantage of the system or don't do the right thing. It bothers me so much that foster families are portrayed negatively so often in the media, whether in television, movies, or even in the news. Why can't we share the good stories? Why can't we show the families who have helped numerous children, adopted from foster care, been advocates for the children who needed someone to love them at the worst time in their lives? Television and movie writers look for someone to make the 'bad guy' and blame falls to the foster family.
It's time that we started to change the image of foster families and begin showing them for what they really are in most cases: loving people who want to help children when they have no one to take care of them. It's time for people to see what I've seen my whole life: parents who take in foster children and help them through the good times and the bad. It's time to hear about those beautiful adoption stories and see that through all of the hard work and dealing with the chaos of the foster system, parents, bio children, and foster children can become a real family.
I may not have enough influence to share my ideas with as wide of an audience as "Chicago Fire" right now, but if I've been able to show even a few people what foster care can really be like, then I feel like I'm making a difference through this blog. I hope that I'll be able to continue to share a positive portrayal of foster care and adoption in the future.
Your continued support means the world to me. From foster care to novels, and family to work experiences, I look forward to sharing more of my life with you each day. Don't hesitate to share your own stories with me or ask me questions about my life. Please don't forget to like and share my Facebook author page as well!
I’d greatly appreciate it if you would share this blog with friends and family through your favorite social media sites. If you’re sharing on Twitter, don’t forget to tag me (@TayTayK02) and use the hashtag #TaylorTalks.