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Synopsis and Vision for KINDRED

While this film is about present day foster care reform , its roots start 35 years earlier. Amy and Rachel growing up as children and being best friends are rocked by a trauma both too young to understand. Anger and guilt separate them as teens and by adulthood , lost touch. Enter Michael , Rachel's adopted son. In the chaos and red tape of his adoption,Rachel and Amy reconnect in social media and in real time and in fighting for children without a voice ,heal childhood wounds. The movie is about reform, the project is about friendship and family that you choose and create and is stronger then you ever could imagine.The story follows the tale of Michael, a former foster child now adopted into a loving same-sex family home. Through interviews with him and other former fosters, adoption advocates, reporters, adoptive/foster parents and a former NYC family court judge; we present a weaving tale of how the system is tragically and sometimes fatally flawed.
In the beginning we meet Mike, now 18 years old. He walks us through his early recollections about his biological family. The neglect and abuses these innocent children suffer in childhood are openly, at times painfully shared. Then we illustrate how they all ended up in the foster care system. Without a home, these people suffer from permanent scars and a lack of life preparation that leads to many variations of personal and societal damage.
This serious and under discussed issue effects all of us. The psychological damage inflicted inevitably carries over into adulthood. There are currently approximately half a million children in foster care or some kind of immediate danger. For most of them, this will lead to chronic homelessness (50% of the US homeless population was once in foster care), incarceration (33%+ from or are currently are in foster care), inability to trust or form lasting interpersonal bonds and suicide.
In the middle of our documentary, we discuss the “cradle to the prison” pipeline and the many routes that could be taken to provide these children a better quality of life. Michael talks about his life now with his new forever family and we experience the difference in him even from the beginning of principal photography. Through the interwoven stories of these remarkable, brave survivors, we learn how the healing process begins.
Through the stories of several now adult fosters who were never able to find forever families, we learn about what happens when an individual is abandoned for life. They discuss how hard it has been for them to want to survive and the unnatural, physical and spiritual compromises they have had to make to do it. Facing the constant underlying challenge to do it without becoming drug addicted or criminals as so many people are forced to do to survive. These people are the less than 1% acceptation to the rule. One is now getting her MBA, after having to work and take infinite loans to get her undergraduate degree, a process that has taken her over 16 years.
Nick Nehemas, Miami Herald reporter, shares how he broke a huge story on the financial problems plaguing the foster care system in the New York Daily News. He discusses how states and some foster parents are using the system for profit. When a state places a child in foster care, as opposed to investing the money into family reunification therapy, they receive a federal subsidy. This gives states the incentive to place kids in foster care that don’t necessarily need to be. Foster parents, as long as they are not related to the child, receive money monthly until the child reaches adulthood.
There is no definitive guideline for what amount needs to be spent on the child’s needs. Some foster parents simply pocket the money, leaving the child they ‘care’ for in desperate need of essentials like sneakers or winter coats. Currently there is no system in place to end the payments, even if the child is returned to foster care, changes residences or goes missing. We are committed to be a catalyst to changing that.
All of our information is backed up by Justice Bryanne Hamill. A former psychiatric nurse, Judge Hamill decided that going to law school would be a better avenue to help this group of at risk youth. She presided over hundreds of hearings where options were reviewed and placements made. Now retired from the bench, Justice Hamill currently serves on the New York state Board of Corrections. She sees to the safety of minors in the prisons and jails, many of who are still in foster care.
The story concludes with Michael’s high school graduation. We also present representatives from major foster care advocates and professionals discussing suggestions for roads to improvement and what can be done here and now to improve the lives of these children. We discuss options like changes in group housing, more consistent mentoring programs, expanded recruitment of good foster and adoptive parents and programs for youngsters aging out of foster care.
KINDRED proposes pioneering a new program for teens and young adults. We will turn our website into an informational hub for foster children to learn about grant programs that they are eligible for. It will be a place where fosters and former fosters can connect with each other to form support systems, pool resources to afford safe housing and share their stories. We will solicit colleges to donate available housing in return for the resident working on campus or for a local business. Most of these kids leave foster care without a GED, much less an actual education that would prepare them for higher education or reasonable employment.
It is our goal to produce a riveting and entertaining documentary that will serve as both a beacon for awareness and a vehicle for change.
KINDRED will also become an NPO, continually evolving to serve the needs of foster children now and in the future. We are committed to this cause for the rest of our lives. Our team firmly believes that once people are aware of the magnitude of the problem and our passion for the project, they won’t be able to forget about it. They will be moved to action, causing a permanent change in how we all view the issue and hopefully, how we treat each other.

  • Amy Rochelle Meador
    first film
  • Rachel Dueker
  • Amy Rochelle Meador
  • Rachel Dueker
  • Amy Rochelle Meador
  • Evan Danzinger
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    documentary, social justice, children, foster care, education, homelessness, survivors, resliency, suicide, mentors
  • Completion Date:
    May 31, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    30,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Amy Rochelle Meador

Amy Rachelle Meador is a writer with a long history in the entertainment industry. She began writing in elementary school, directing and producing a school commercial at age ten. At seventeen, she began stage acting. Amy pursued technical theater as her primary field of study along with child psychology and creative writing. She has published poetry, blogs, scripts and treatments, articles and photographs. She and her family live in Orlando.
Along with KINDRED, Amy has written Incaras and Dingo Book One-Imagine, a young adult sci-fi/ historical fiction novel about a teenage boy and his dog who accidently time travel to the assignation of John Lennon and are caught in the crossfire. Hoover Drive Entertainment plans to produce it as a movie in the future. Amy is committed to seeing through the cause of foster care and the safety of children for the rest of her life. She and Rachel have a continuing video project mapped out to keep the KINDRED project constantly moving forward and evolving. Telling the stories of those who know it best.

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Director Statement

KINDRED artistic vision

The look and feel of the documentary KINDRED will be home movie-style and authentic. This will keep the film real to the viewers, making them fully feel what the participants are imparting. The filming is grounded in the reality of the story. Sound and music as well as appearance will all be used for effect without making the film look or feel too polished or distant. The audience will be engaged and invested throughout the run.
The story is true and emotional. We intend to keep the connection to the participants by shooting in gorilla or some movie format, remaining loyal to the wishes of the interviewees and production team to make it palpable to the viewers.
The movie has a traditional linear beginning, middle and end with one story serving as the constant and other stories, facts and observations the variables supporting it. The film is intended as a means to movement. A movement we see necessary to reform the foster care system within one generation, a task we see as completely accomplishable.
It will be clearly spelled out from personal experiences how kids end up in foster care, what is life was like within the system, what life is like today, how we can raise awareness on the issue and how to improve the quality of life for children currently in the system and prevent future abuses from happening.
We will continue to utilize social media to enhance the viewing experience. After seeing the movie, people will be able to look at our website and use it to interact with both the filmmakers and participants in the film. They will be able to learn more about the foster care system and how to reform it here and now. People will have the opportunity to get directly involved that very day by getting information on becoming foster parents, donating funds, supplies, goods, services or volunteering for mentoring.