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Old 10-25-2014, 10:07 AM
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Books or movies about people who suddenly become parents


I'm interested in hearing about books or movies about adults who suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves to be parents or parent figures. Not about adapting to parenthood when you or your SO gives birth or adopts an infant, but about a child (particularly a non-infant) who you suddenly have to care for for whatever reason. Seems like it should be a common theme, but I'm coming up short. There's "Three Men and a Baby" and "The Three Godfathers" (though those are both about infants); I can't remember if the Hugh Grant character in "About A Boy" actually takes care of the kid(?); "Kramer vs. Kramer" is kind of in that vein since it's about a parent who suddenly has to take on all the parenting duties... I'm sure I'm missing a lot, but what?
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:10 AM
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Baby Boom

Business woman Diane Keaton becomes an unexpected guardian to a baby.

Last edited by IvoryTowerDenizen; 10-25-2014 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:16 AM
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In Raising Helen, Kate Hudson's character becomes guardians to her sister's children.

I'll likely think of more later.
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:17 AM
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You're in luck-- there's an entire TV series about this: Family Affair.
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:21 AM
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Major Dad and Trophy Wife are two TV series about a person getting married and become a parent to stepchildren.
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:23 AM
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Curly Sue and Paper Moon.

On TV, The Bernie Mac Show.

I may think of more later.
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:25 AM
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Two more movies: Big Daddy and Life as We Know It.
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:30 AM
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Raising Arizona.
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:32 AM
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Major Dad and Trophy Wife are two TV series about a person getting married and become a parent to stepchildren.
Really?? I watched Major Dad as a kid and had no memory that those were his stepkids. Though I guess it makes more sense that way, since the kids always called him "the major" instead of "dad."
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:36 AM
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Here's the TV Tropes page Children Raise You.

It also happens all the time in romance novels.
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:38 AM
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Kolya: it's in Czech with English subtitles, but it's one of the best of the genre. Won Oscar for Best foreign-language film in 1996.

Sparrows: silent film with Mary Pickford about a teenager who cares for a bunch of younger children under the fist of an evil overseer. She finally attempts a rescue when she realizes that one of the children is not a street urchin, but a kidnap victim, and there's a horrific scene over an alligator infested river. I know it sounds like a "Perils of Pauline" silent melodrama, but it's really a great film.

Big Daddy: a watchable Adam Sandler film. Irresponsible, typical Sandler character takes care of kid left for his roommate (who is the kid's father) but is out of town.

Overboard: Goldie Hawn has amnesia, and Kurt Russell convinces her she is the mother of his three boys (their real mother is dead). Offensive, if you think too much about it, but Hawn plays it straight, and if you just watch those moments, they are pretty good.
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:51 AM
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Bachelor Father. (He takes custody of his niece after her parents die in an accident.)

Does Heidi count? The Alm-Uncle is her grandfather, and raised her father, but he had to become a parent again to the 5-year-old granddaughter he never knew (or knew only as a baby) when her aunt dropped her off with him.

Do foster parents (if they've never fostered before) count? If so, there's A Try at Tumbling, by Dorothy French, in which Eva Evansby becomes the foster mom to Mardi Williamson.

Last edited by Dendarii Dame; 10-25-2014 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:59 AM
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I hate movies like this. They are almost always cloyingly sentimental. Of course, I hate kids to start with.

The only good (i.e., I liked it) example I can think of is Shoot Em Up, where Clive Owen, whilst in the middle of a gun battle for his life, suddenly has a baby dropped in his lap. He just totes it along while continuing his regularly planned shoot outs and car chases.
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Old 10-25-2014, 11:01 AM
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Gloria: Sharon Stone as Mob Moll who takes in street urchin.


The Grand Highway
A kid from Paris is dumped on his childless aunt and uncle in the country, while his mother has a second baby.

Jack & Sarah: This is a British film about a man whose wife dies unexpectedly in childbirth. Initially, he rejects the baby, who survived, but his mother and mother-in-law are persistent, and he eventually becomes very good at the role of single parent. There a good scene where he marches into the women's bathroom, because it has a changing table, and the men's doesn't, and when they try to kick him out, he dresses down the manager for not having a changing table in the men's room. "Sarah" is the baby, who is named after his late wife.
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Old 10-25-2014, 11:02 AM
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Does The Sound of Music count?
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Old 10-25-2014, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Tim R. Mortiss View Post
I hate movies like this. They are almost always cloyingly sentimental. Of course, I hate kids to start with.

The only good (i.e., I liked it) example I can think of is Shoot Em Up, where Clive Owen, whilst in the middle of a gun battle for his life, suddenly has a baby dropped in his lap. He just totes it along while continuing his regularly planned shoot outs and car chases.
I haven't seen that, but it sounds awesome.
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Old 10-25-2014, 11:07 AM
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Oh, and the original Yours, Mine and Ours, from 1968 (not that blasphemous 200-something remake) has a lot of the same dynamics, and emotionality of the kind of films you are looking for.

So, come to think of it, does a Disney film with Jodie Foster called Candleshoe, which is a fun puzzle-mystery if you are under 13.

Last edited by RivkahChaya; 10-25-2014 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 10-25-2014, 11:09 AM
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Overboard: Goldie Hawn has amnesia, and Kurt Russell convinces her she is the mother of his three boys (their real mother is dead). Offensive, if you think too much about it, but Hawn plays it straight, and if you just watch those moments, they are pretty good.
That movie does a great job of straddling the line of being stupid and being funny. Certainly not even close to a great movie, but fun to watch.
  #19  
Old 10-25-2014, 04:21 PM
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Diff'rent Strokes
Webster
Punky Brewster
Silver Spoons
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Old 10-25-2014, 05:03 PM
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Done with a nasty twist in Very Bad Things.

SPOILER:
Hours before their wedding, Kyle and Laura learn that they've been named in the will of another couple, both of whom were killed days earlier in an escalating series of revenge-murders. They've inherited custody of the couple's two bratty children but, thanks to poor financial planning, almost no money to raise them. Shortly after the wedding, Kyle and his best friend are permanently disabled in a car crash, leaving Laura to look after both them and the brats for the rest of her life.
  #21  
Old 10-25-2014, 05:13 PM
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Done with a nasty twist in Very Bad Things.

SPOILER:
Hours before their wedding, Kyle and Laura learn that they've been named in the will of another couple, both of whom were killed days earlier in an escalating series of revenge-murders. They've inherited custody of the couple's two bratty children but, thanks to poor financial planning, almost no money to raise them. Shortly after the wedding, Kyle and his best friend are permanently disabled in a car crash, leaving Laura to look after both them and the brats for the rest of her life.
My gawd, did a bunch of film execs get stoned together, and decide to play "Who can come up with the worst movie premise?"

Laura needs a really good lawyer: just because you are named as a child's guardian does not mean that you must take them, and you are allowed to divorce someone who needs more care than you can give. It may sound shitty, but sometimes it's the only practical solution for couples who were dependent on the insurance of the now-disabled partner. Sometimes if they divorce, the disabled person can get better disability benefits, and medicaid until medicare kicks in. And then, if this happens right after the wedding, and the non-disabled person wants to bail, yeah, crappy, but the person has that right.
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Old 10-25-2014, 05:33 PM
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My gawd, did a bunch of film execs get stoned together, and decide to play "Who can come up with the worst movie premise?"

Laura needs a really good lawyer: just because you are named as a child's guardian does not mean that you must take them, and you are allowed to divorce someone who needs more care than you can give. It may sound shitty, but sometimes it's the only practical solution for couples who were dependent on the insurance of the now-disabled partner. Sometimes if they divorce, the disabled person can get better disability benefits, and medicaid until medicare kicks in. And then, if this happens right after the wedding, and the non-disabled person wants to bail, yeah, crappy, but the person has that right.
Good points - though I left out the part where

SPOILER:
Laura bludgeons Kyle's other friend to death several minutes before the wedding to keep him from murdering Kyle over the insurance money. Now that she and Kyle share this secret, it's implied, she can't just divorce and abandon him - otherwise, he'll seek revenge by ratting her out.
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Old 10-25-2014, 05:39 PM
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Wasn't that kind of what The Odd Life of Timothy Green was about? Some infertile parents being rejected for adoption bury a box detailing all the traits they want in a child. The child literally grows like a plant into a young boy and teaches them a lesson about parenting, then disappears. They're inspired to retry adoption and finally get a real kid in their care.

Last edited by Jragon; 10-25-2014 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 10-25-2014, 06:14 PM
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Uncle Buck has this premise, though it's short-term only.
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Old 10-25-2014, 06:52 PM
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How about the Canadian film Starbuck? A forty-something man learns that the sperm donations he made as a young man resulted in 533 children, 142 of whom have sued to learn his identity. All of the ones we meet are young adults.

(There's an American remake, called Delivery Man, and starring Vince Vaughn. Like most remakes, it's not as good.)
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Old 10-25-2014, 07:43 PM
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I think George Eliot's novel Silas Marner counts, as would the Steve Martin film A Simple Twist of Fate, which is based on it, though I haven't seen it.
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Old 10-25-2014, 09:18 PM
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Oh, another would be Kinsey Millhone's Aunt Gin from Sue Grafton's alphabet series.
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Old 10-25-2014, 09:40 PM
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No Reservations with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Abigail Breslin.
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:00 PM
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I think George Eliot's novel Silas Marner counts, as would the Steve Martin film A Simple Twist of Fate, which is based on it, though I haven't seen it.
I think Silas Marner counts, but it does involve the adoption of an infant. The parental figure, however, is this awkward bachelor whose only concept of being responsible for a child was having a little sister. Btw, what is it with George Eliot and big brother/little sister dynamics?

Eleanor H. Porter's Pollyanna might count. It's basically the extended family member must suddenly take care of a child that they weren't planning to idea.

Last edited by robert_columbia; 10-25-2014 at 10:01 PM.
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:05 PM
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Oh, and how about Annie? Whichever version floats your boat, I lost track of how many times they've remade this.
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:32 PM
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Ally McBeal and The X-Files. Ally and Scully find out rather unexpectedly that they each have a daughter that they didn't know about.
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:57 PM
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Oh, and how about Annie? Whichever version floats your boat, I lost track of how many times they've remade this.
There's another remake of it being released in December.
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Old 10-25-2014, 11:49 PM
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Chaplin's The Kid, and in the realm of comic strips, Popeye and Swee'pea in Thimble Theater, and Uncle Walt and Skezzix in Gasoline Alley.

Last edited by Son of a Rich; 10-25-2014 at 11:53 PM.
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Old 10-25-2014, 11:50 PM
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Eric Segal wrote a novel, Man, Woman, and Child, which dealt with a couple finding out that the man had an illegitimate child because of a dalliance in France. The child's mother died, leaving Dad in custody.

This was made into a movie back in 1983 starring Blythe Danner and Martin Sheen.
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Old 10-26-2014, 01:22 AM
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It's incredibly common. Just from among the movies I've seen in the last three or four years...

Leon: The Professional
Les Miserables
Tom Jones
The Kid (Charlie Chaplin)
Anthony Adverse
Wuthering Heights
Tarzan the Ape Man (inter-species)
Auntie Mame
Cinema Paradiso
Jeremiah Johnson
The Lion King (inter-species)
Oliver!
The Awful Truth
Father Goose
A Thousand Clowns
Edward Scissorhands
The Search
True Grit
Paper Moon
The Blind Side
Captains Courageous
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Old 10-26-2014, 06:35 AM
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I'm not sure if Face/Off fits those parameters, but Castor (as Sean) does wind up looking after Jamie through the middle of the movie, while Sean protects and later adopts Castor's son at the end.
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Old 10-26-2014, 08:46 AM
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Ally McBeal and The X-Files. Ally and Scully find out rather unexpectedly that they each have a daughter that they didn't know about.
What does this mean- they didn't know they gave birth? The pain alone should have been a big clue.
  #38  
Old 10-26-2014, 10:33 AM
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What does this mean- they didn't know they gave birth? The pain alone should have been a big clue.
Nope, they didn't give birth. Scully's ova was stolen, and Ally, when young, had donated some for a project to improve upon methods of freezing unfertilized ova.

In Scully's case the Consortium used her ova in a hybridization experiment and in Ally's the ova were accidentally used instead of the wife's for a couple doing IVF.
  #39  
Old 10-26-2014, 10:50 AM
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It's incredibly common. Just from among the movies I've seen in the last three or four years...


The Awful Truth
???

This is one of my favorite movies with Irene Dunne and Cary Grant. It's about a divorcing couple having a custody fight over their Fox Terrier, play by Asta. They both date a couple of losers, contemplate remarriage, and then have to face the awful truth, that maybe they actually love each other. It's one of the funniest screwball comedies ever, and won best picture in, IIRC, 1937.

According to IMDb, the only other movie called The Awful Truth is a Michael Moore documentary.

Are you thinking of another Irene Dunne/Cary Grant movie called My Favorite Wife, where Irene Dunne is stranded on a desert island for seven years, and then rescued on the eve of her husband's remarriage (not a spoiler-- this all happens in the first ten minutes). She has two children who were babies when she "drowned," and has to figure out a way to tell them she is their mother. It's a tertiary plot, and I wouldn't put it in this category.

There's also an Irene Dunne/Cary Grant movie called Penny Serenade where they adopt a baby, but they do so intentionally-- it's not a parents by surprise movie. It's also unbearably tragic, and I wouldn't recommend it. It's very good, but it's a cinematic gut punch.

On the other hand, I would recommend The Awful Truth to anyone. It is so funny, you may blow out a tonsil laughing. The Irene Dunne/Cary Grant version, that is.

Last edited by RivkahChaya; 10-26-2014 at 10:50 AM.
  #40  
Old 10-26-2014, 11:06 AM
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It's one of the funniest screwball comedies ever, and won best picture in, IIRC, 1937.
Nominated, not won. "The Life of Emile Zola" was the winner for 1937.
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Old 10-27-2014, 05:37 AM
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Wow - I knew there were lots I was missing, but I didn't realize quite how many. Thanks, all!
  #42  
Old 10-27-2014, 06:05 AM
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Nominated, not won. "The Life of Emile Zola" was the winner for 1937.
My bad-- won best director for Leo McCarey. I knew it won one-- it was nominated for most of the top awards (Irene Dunne was nominated for best actress a heart-breaking 5 times, and never won), but only won one, I just got the wrong one.
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Old 10-27-2014, 08:00 AM
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Do monsters count? Sully becomes a foster dad (more or less) accidentally in Monsters, Inc. It's only temporary.
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Old 10-27-2014, 10:00 AM
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Could the Star Wars series be a contender? After all,

SPOILER:


Anakin/Vader was brought back to the light side by an opportunity to actually act like a father. It was the only part of his humanity that the Emperor couldn't destroy. "Tell your sister- you were right."

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Old 10-27-2014, 12:50 PM
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In Douglas Adams' Mostly Harmless, Arthur Dent abruptly finds that he's the father of a moody teenage girl, when the girl's mother suddenly stops by and drops her off with him.

I think there's some redundancy in the phrase "moody teenage girl," but let it be.
  #46  
Old 10-27-2014, 02:39 PM
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Oh, and the original Yours, Mine and Ours, from 1968 (not that blasphemous 200-something remake) has a lot of the same dynamics, and emotionality of the kind of films you are looking for.....
Based on a true story, for what it's worth.

Not quite "suddenly became parents" given that each of the two adults had a large number of kids to start with (then as I recall they had a couple more together.... eventually outnumbering the Duggars, believe it or not).
  #47  
Old 10-27-2014, 08:12 PM
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Diff'rent Strokes
Webster
Punky Brewster
Silver Spoons
I wouldn't lump Diff'rent Strokes in with the rest of those, as Mr D already was raising and parenting Kimberly.


As for movies, I don't know the name, so maybe it's been mentioned already, but a while back I accidentally caught part of some piece of crap on TBS where Katherine Heigel and Josh Doumel (I'm sure I spelled at least one of those last names wrong, I don't care) as single people forced to come together to raise a baby when the parents (each of their respective best friends) get killed.
  #48  
Old 10-27-2014, 10:23 PM
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I call BZZZZZZT on Kipling's Captains Courageous. The captain of a fishing boat picks up a 15-year-old spoiled rich kid who's fallen off an ocean liner, and considering his grandiose boasting and offers of lavish reward for a quick return on shore to be just so much deluded raving, essentially shanghaies the teen for a few months of hard labor at the Grand Banks cod fishery, which naturally Makes A Man Out Of Him.

The boy (Harvey) is a typical "green hand" aboard the boat, but his role is that of apprentice, not foster child. It's well understood throughout by everybody that Harvey has parents of his own (although the captain and crew don't have any conception of how wealthy and important they are till the end of the book), and that he will return to them when the season's fishing is done.

Much closer to what the OP's looking for are the Anne of Green Gables saga (though the orphan child there starts out as technically somewhere between a ward and hired help rather than a foster child), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and Understood Betsy.
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Old 10-27-2014, 10:50 PM
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" Konrad" an episode of WonderWorks on PBS. Lady receives a delivery that is an "instant kid" in a can.
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Old 10-28-2014, 08:08 AM
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My Two Dads, an 80's sitcom about a girl whose mom dies not knowing which of two men she slept with was her bio-dad. (Of course, they have totally opposite personalities.)

In Anne of Green Gables and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, the adoption of a child was planned out well in advance in both cases, so they're not really cases of becoming parents unexpectedly, although in both the child who arrived wasn't the one they'd hoped for. (In the first, the Cuthberts wanted a boy to help Matthew with the farm chores, and in the second, the aunts wanted Rebecca's better-behaved older sister Hannah.)
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