It is an open secret among children in the foster care system: Once you reach your teens, your chances of adoption drop abysmally. In fact, of the more than 400,000 kids in foster care in America, approximately 25 percent are over the age of 12.
But what happens to those who grow up and “age out?”
The answer to this stirring question unfolds in Unadopted, a debut documentary co-produced by Oakland-based youth media production company YR Media (formerly Youth Radio) and 22-year-old Noel Anaya, a college student and youth employee of the award-winning nonprofit. In 2017, Anaya produced a YR Media broadcast story about his experiences in the foster care system. It was so compelling that NPR aired what then became an Edward R. Murrow and Third Coast/Richard H. Driehaus Competition award-winning piece.
Noel’s story forms the basis for the 33-minute documentary, a window into his experiences as he confronts his history with foster families, the courts, and embarks on a journey to meet other teens currently within the system.
“Foster care is a system that is supposed to provide temporary homes for kids in families that are in need of healing,” Anaya said of the catalyst behind Unadopted. “In an ideal world, the system should reunite children with their parents or relatives if there is a stable and appropriate environment that makes that possible. If that isn’t possible, the goal should then be to help them get adopted into loving homes. Far too often, that doesn’t happen, and especially not for teenagers. I wanted to investigate this social issue and unravel why it works this way and how we can change it.”
“The Unadopted journey, which began with the support and guidance of YR Media’s founder Ellin O’Leary and filmmaker Bob Calo, is so important right now as our nation reels from a pandemic that has even more dire consequences for youth in foster care facilities,” said Kyra Kyles, who joined YR Media as CEO in February. “This film not only provides a unique and critical perspective, but facilitates needed discussions about the specific changes that must be made within this system.”
Unadopted has been officially selected into the Emmy Award-winning documentary series KQED Truly CA and will premiere on KQED Art’s YouTube Channel on September 18, 2020. For more information about YR Media, please visit https://yr.media/.
Funding for Unadopted was provided by Ford Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Pivotal Ventures, May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust and The Jensen Family.
About YR Media
YR Media, formerly Youth Radio, is an award-winning national network of diverse young journalists and artists from underrepresented communities who create content for this generation. Headquartered in downtown Oakland, California, our non-profit has spent 25 years helping future generations build crucial skills in journalism, arts and media. We produce journalism, music, graphic design, podcasts and documentaries that disrupt and shape the mainstream narrative.
KQED serves the people of Northern California with a public-supported alternative to commercial media. An NPR and PBS affiliate based in San Francisco, KQED is home to one of the most listened-to public radio stations in the nation, one of the highest-rated public television services and an award-winning education program helping students and educators thrive in 21st-century classrooms. A trusted news source and leader and innovator in interactive technology, KQED takes people of all ages on journeys of exploration — exposing them to new people, places and ideas. www.kqed.org