After failing to conceive for years, Danielle and her husband Alex decide to adopt an infant through foster care. A few days later, Child Protective Services (CPS) calls and begs them to take in two older children, Jaime, age 11, and Trevor, age 13. The kids have five fractured bones between the two of them after being beaten by their mother. If CPS cannot place these teens with a foster family before the end of the day, they will be transferred to a homeless shelter. Danielle and Alex cautiously agree to take the kids for a few months while their mother is treated for heroin addiction.
Fostering these emotionally damaged children proves to be overwhelming for Danielle and Alex. Without previous parenting experience and little support from their over-taxed social worker, the couple struggles to get the children to follow even simple rules, go to school, not destroy property, and behave in a rational manner. Danielle and Alex begin to fight about how best to handle the teenagers.
After a week of school the principal calls Danielle and Alex into his office and warns them to keep Trevor away form any pets because his record reveals a history of animal abuse. Danielle runs a horse training and horseback riding school and keeps thirty horses in the barn next to their house. She does not want to continue fostering and put her horses at risk. Alex is afraid to send the kids back into the system that has already failed them, and convinces Danielle that they can keep the kids away from the horses.
With new resolve Danielle and Alex begin to teach the children academic and social skills. Just as the family begins to fall into a routine, CPS calls again. They have located Jaime and Trevor’s older sister, Crystal, age 16. This is the first time Danielle and Alex hear that Jaime and Trevor have an older sister. Apparently Crystal evaded CPS for a month by hiding out with friends. Because it is CPS’ policy to keep sibling groups together, Danielle and Alex must also take in Crystal or all three teens will be sent to a group home. Once again forced to make a quick decision, the couple agrees to take in Crystal.
Crystal’s arrival immediately destroys the delicate balance that the couple had just managed to achieve. After a few days Crystal talks her siblings into cutting school to help her shoplift. She then urges Trevor to speak seductively to one of Danielle’s riding students. The girl’s mother immediately pulls her daughter from the program and Danielle loses her best student. Finally Alex catches Crystal entertaining a boy in her bedroom in exchange for pot. When confronted, Crystal threatens Alex that if he says anything to CPS she will report that it was Alex in her bedroom. Blackmailed, Danielle and Alex must continue to foster despite the now impossible situation.
Meanwhile the kids’ biological mother, Shelly, is getting close to completing her drug rehab program. She is now allowed to have supervised visits with her kids. Over dinner one night, Alex speculates that the kids will probably be able to go home soon. Pissed off by this comment, the kids decide to let all of the horses out of the barn while Alex and Danielle are sleeping. Although all of the horses are eventually found, one of Danielle’s favorite show horses suffers a damaged leg that ends his career. The kids feel bad that the horse got hurt.
Distraught and trapped, Danielle has an epiphany. Maybe kids and horses are not so different? Seeing the teens’ obvious regret over the horse’s injury, she decides to risk letting the kids near her horses. Danielle begins teaching the teens obedience, confidence, and courtesy by having them teach these skills to her horses. The teens’ oppositional behaviors diminish over the next few weeks. Just as Danielle and Alex begin to enjoy raising their three foster kids, Shelly completes her rehab program and CPS returns custody of the kids to her. Danielle and Alex are heartbroken.
Shelly struggles to work a minimum wage job to provide for her children and as a result she begins using drugs again and neglecting her kids. The siblings become angry and resentful of their mother. Unable to stay clean, Shelly returns the kids to CPS and asks them to let Danielle and Alex care for them again. The kids are happy to return to Danielle and Alex and the couple finally finds family with their foster teenagers.
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