Lifetime is bringing on more tears with the movie I Am Somebody's Child, and yes — you need all the tissues. This heartbreaking yet inspiring true story follows one girl's journey through the broken foster care system. Based on author and motivational speaker, Regina Louise’s books, Somebody’s Someone and Someone has Led this Child to Believe, the movie stars Ginnifer Goodwin and newcomer Angela Fairley (who's a foster child, herself). With such an important story to tell, you'll wonder: who is Regina Louise? Remember her name because it's about to change the way you think of the foster care system.
Regina Louise isn't only an author and former foster child, she's also a children's advocate and motivational speaker for the underrepresented. The second child of the late singer and songwriter, Tom Brock, Louise was put into the foster care system after Brock abandoned her to pursue a career in music. Parentless and shuffled from home to home, Louise's story is an all too common theme among the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care. Her life in a snapshot is encapsulated in I Am Somebody's Child, which follows Louise's journey through over 30 foster homes as a ward of the California Juvenile Court system. She was a 40-year-old woman with a 17-year-old son of her own when finally adopted by the woman who had attempted to adopt her several years prior.
As for Louise's early life, the estrangement from her father put a dent in her education. Though she attended elementary school in Austin, Texas, it was shortly after her 13th birthday when she was taken into custody. If you mix in her stints at psychiatric facilities — all before she turned 18 — it's easy to see all the ways she could've given up. But she didn't.
In her first book, Somebody's Someone, Louise unveiled the narrative of many other children through, as Chronicles of Social Change put it, "a poor, abused and neglected African-American girl whose only wish was to find love and belonging."
The twist in Louise's journey is that, through all of this, a woman, Jeanne Kerr, petitioned to adopt Louise but was denied because she was white and Louise is black. Obviously, both were devastated by the court's ruling. Afterwards, Kerr married, had a child, and moved south, while Louise left foster care when she aged-out at 18. She went back to school on scholarships, attending San Francisco State where she'd eventually garner bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
When she attended San Francisco State on scholarship, Louise had no name to offer when asked for an emergency contact. She had no place to go when the dorms closed for school breaks. There was not a single person in the world who claimed her as family. "You need somebody to show up for you," Louise told the San Francisco Gate.
Mardi Louisell, a consultant for California Permanency for Youth Project, explained why the foster care system is failing so many children in similar situations saying, "Older kids haven't been looked at as a group that needs a home. The system is set up to consider kids over 11 not adoptable, so social workers often don't go about finding an extended family that will be there for them beyond the age of 18."
Now that Louise is able to use her story to voice the voiceless, her focus as a foster care abolitionist helps those with trauma and helps them overcome through personal development — just as she's done. "For 22 years, I have been on a personal growth journey," Louise said in the same Chronicles of Social Change interview. "The more I reclaim my right to my humanity, the stronger my sense of self-worth becomes."