Emily’s Family: Mixed-Race & Mixed-Ethnicity
“You don’t have to be a rat to marry a rat. You can be a rat and marry a mouse.” — Emily
In the first section of That’s a Family!, we meet Emily’s family. Her father is Chinese-American and her mother is German-American. Emily and her sisters are both. We also meet other mixed-race families, as well as families who speak more than one language or who practice more than one religion. Emily explains, “There are a lot of kids like me in the world who have mixed families and they don’t all have to be the same. There are a lot of different ones!” As she talks about her family, Emily introduces viewers to a variety of related terms and characteristics, such as bilingualism, religion and nationality.
Sam, Susan & Sofia’s Families: Adoptive
“They don’t rent you — They keep you until you’re really big, and really old!” — Sam
Just as there are many ways to be a family, there are many ways that children can be adopted — as babies or as older children, by parents of the same or different races, by gay or lesbian parents, or by single parents. In this segment, we meet Sam and Susan, two children who have been adopted by parents of the same race (Caucasian), and Sofia, a Latina whose mixed-race family includes a mom and dad who are Caucasian and a brother who is African-American. Their stories illustrate the bonds that exist between children who are adopted and their parents, and underscore that if you are adopted you are a wanted, loved child and not second-best. Viewers learn that adopted children have two sets of parents — their adoptive parents and their birth parents.
Brittany, Ebony & Gerald: Grandparents as Guardians
“It was hard for my mother to take care of me.” — Ebony
“My grandma came and saw what we were going through, and took us.” —
In this segment, we meet Brittany, her sister, Ebony and her brother, Gerald, who live with their grandmother. Their mother, who is addicted to drugs, is unable to take care of them, and the children discuss that while they love and miss their mother, they know it is best to be with their grandmother because she can provide a safe and loving home. In this segment we also meet other families in which children are being raised by grandparents or guardians. This section provides a good opportunity to discuss why a child may live in a group home, in foster care, or be adopted by a relative or another family.
Josh, Breauna, Dominique, Alma & Taquisha’s Families: Gay and Lesbian Parents
“My parents are lesbians — That means they only like men for friends” — Dominique
In this segment, we learn that children with gay or lesbian parents come in all races and may be in single-parent families, mixed-race families or adoptive families. We meet Josh, who lives with his sister and two moms; Breauna, who lives with her two dads; and Dominique, Alma and Taquisha, who live with their two moms. We learn that even if one mom gave birth to a child, the other mom is a “real mom” too. We hear Josh talk about the way he is affected by anti-gay name-calling at school, and Breauna corrects a common myth that is often imposed upon the children of gay or lesbian parents: “You’re not gay when you grow up just because you have gay parents.”
Montana’s Family: Divorce
“The hard part is when I’m with my dad I want to be with my mom, and when I’m with my mom I want to be with my dad.” — Montana
In this section of the film, we meet
, who lives with her father half of the time and her mother half of the time. We learn that her mother is about to remarry, which will give
s story is framed by several other families who have experienced divorce. Viewers learn that some parents/guardians decide to separate and divorce, and that that parent may later find a new partner.
s description of her family life provides an opportunity for educators, parents and guardians to discuss the concept of separation and divorce, and the experiences and feelings children go through when their family structure changes.
Fernando’s Family: Single Parent
“If you have two parents they share the money. My mom has to work really hard.” — Fernando
In this section of the film, we meet Fernando, who lives with his mother and for whom he expresses an enormous amount of love and respect. He knows his father’s name and occupation, but he does not know his father and has never had contact with him. In this segment, children learn that some single adults choose to have children by themselves, some single people may choose to adopt an infant or an older child, and some single-parent families have experienced loss through death, separation, incarceration or divorce.
Fernando closes the film by reminding us that:
“It doesn’t matter who’s in the family, but it matters that you love each other and take care of each other. That’s a Family!”