'Foster' documentary encourages viewers to open hearts, homes to children

Landmark’s Lagoon Cinema in Minneapolis screened an HBO documentary Monday night aimed at drawing attention to the foster care system.

The producers of “Foster” are holding screenings in 10 states. They chose Minnesota because of our progressive foster care system, and because child welfare is a hot topic here. 

After going into foster care at the age of three, Deshawn Woods spent time in seven foster homes in 18 years. But now, he's introducing a film that is putting experiences like his on the silver screen. 

"I don't know where I would be if I wasn't in the foster care system. I had good foster parents in general. They raised me with morals, they raised me to stand on my own and really instilled with us the spirit of independence," he said.

The documentary examines the foster care system in Los Angeles County through the eyes of the birth parents, foster parents, children and social workers who are impacted by it every day. The film gives an inside look at an often misunderstood world and dispels some common misconceptions about it.

“Some people think there has to be two parents in the household. There's a huge misconception that people are in to quit their job and this is an income source. Absolutely not," said foster parent Darlene Bell. 

The Minnesota Department of Human Services says the number of children removed from their homes in our state has been going up over the last few years, in part due to the nation's opioid and meth epidemics.

State leaders hope "Foster" encourages more people to open their homes and their hearts to children who need a safe place to stay.

“It can be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding things you do with your life, but we want to make sure we have the right foster parents with an open and loving heart and home," said Nikki Farago, Assistant Commissioner for Children & Family Services.

By doing so, Woods says viewers could give former foster children like him their own Hollywood ending.

“I'm living my best life every day. I've never been to jail. I'm not homeless, I'm not dead. This is my Hollywood ending, if you will, but it’s still going, so I'm excited," Woods said.

The crowd also heard from Rick Spielman of the Minnesota Vikings who shared his experiences adopting six children