This Saturday, Lifetime will debut its latest film I Am Somebody's Child, which documents the story of a foster child’s arduous life and the one person who saw her true value. I Am Somebody’s Child is based on a true story and dramatizes the life of author Regina Louise who, according to Chicago Tribune, ended up in the foster care system after being abandoned and abused by everyone in her life. She later met Jeanne Kerr, an employee at a children’s shelter, and they formed a mother-daughter relationship. Sadly, Jeanne’s attempt to adopt Regina was denied and the pair remained separated for many years.
Per Lifetime’s movie synopsis, Angela Fairley portrays Regina, a Black girl who goes through over 30 foster homes and psychiatric facilities before her 18th birthday. She meets Jeanne (Ginnifer Goodwin), a White woman who works at the California shelter where she currently resides, and they start to build a strong bond. Jeanne and Regina are devastated when an adoption attempt falls apart because of a racist ruling and they are forced to go their separate ways. But, Regina's success as an adult leads to their reunion and a legal adoption over 25 years later.
The I Am Somebody's Child trailer gives even more insight into Regina's life and relationship with Jeanne. A man, presumably her father, signs over his rights and leaves Regina at the shelter with Jeanne. They are seen bonding and spending time together as other people look on disapprovingly because of their different races. Jeanne believes Regina will thrive if she has a loving home and petitions to adopt her, but the court blatantly rejects her because she is a White woman.
An administrator at the shelter says Regina needs "behavior correction," so the teen is sent to a psychiatric ward. The clip ends with balancing Regina's terrible moments with her happiness beside Jeanne. There's no footage of them reuniting years later, but it can be assumed that the real-life people will portray themselves in the movie's final moments.
The network revealed that the real Regina Louise co-executive produced the movie alongside megachurch leader T.D. Jakes. I Am Somebody's Child made its initial debut at the Athena Film Festival in February and was well-received by viewers. Lifetime has also developed a new PSA along with Louise to provide viewers with more information about adoption and the foster care system, which isn’t surprising considering the network’s recent commitment to bringing awareness to issues like sexual violence and other with the Surviving R. Kelly documentary and Flint film.
It remains to be seen how much creative license is taken in I Am Somebody's Child, but it doesn’t seem like movie will be too far off from reality. Per The Epoch Times, Regina Louise was abandoned at a young age by both of her parents and left in an abusive home for years until she ran away in 1975 on the eve of her 13th birthday. She was taken by the police to a children’s shelter where she met Jeanne, a counselor who was the first person to ever treat her with kindness and respect. Regina was sent to several foster homes, but she would run away and make her way back to the one person who showed her love.
The same article reveals that Jeanine tried to adopt Regina, but they both believe the court denied them because it didn't think a White woman could raise a Black child. Jeanne was forced to stay away from Regina because it would be "detrimental to her development" and the brokenhearted little girl lived in pain for years. However, Regina wanted to her promise to Jeanne to beat the odds and be a good person, so she went on to college and eventually opened up a successful hair salon.
She tried to find Jeanine for years, but it was to no avail until she published her 2003 memoir (and the inspiration for this movie) "Somebody's Someone" and got an email from Jeanne. The pair reunited and Jeanne adopted Regina, who now had a son of her own, in the same courtroom that ripped them apart years prior. It's rare to see such a heartbreaking story come full circle and end with joy, so hopefully Regina's plight will give hope to others who have been affected by the foster care system.
According to Regina's website, she has built a career as an author, motivational speaker, coach, and an advocate for foster care system reform. In a GMA interview with Robin Roberts, Regina revealed that she has been trying to make I Am Somebody's Child for 16 years, but faced rejection in the process. Of course, she's no stranger to roadblocks, so she kept going for 16 years until she achieved her goal. "I heard a lot of nos," said Louise. "And I remember someone saying that every no is just the door to your yes. Keep going. Keep going. I hit it hard Robin. Somebody told me "There are no Black girls to play you so we can't make this movie." And I said "Well, then I'll wait to one is born baby because this movie is gonna get made!""
Louise said she kept her dream alive to have a family and now she hopes her life story will take Black girl's stories from the fringes and center them. Interestingly, actress Angela Fairley is one of those girls because she also grew up in the foster care system. Regina Louise's perseverance and outlook on life resonated with the studio audience and will make fans want to tune in to this movie even more.
I Am Somebody's Child is the kind of inspirational and heartwarming story that will stick with Lifetime viewers for a long time. Watch Regina Louise's memoir unfold when the film premieres on April 20 at 8 p.m. ET.