Today is National Adoption Day. The day started to raise awareness of the over 100,000 children in foster care who are waiting for families. Since it started almost four years ago, the day has helped almost 50,000 children!
Today, we celebrate this day with awareness, a video that will make you do the snotty cry (you’ve been warned) and a super touching Q&A session and pictorial with a family adopting their fosters TODAY! -Jacqueline Wilson, Editor, PrimeParentsClub.com
How does it really feel to be a kid that ends up in foster care?
Back in 2011, we (and by we I mean mostly me) began to feel like 3 kiddos wasn’t enough – that we wanted more kids. Unfortunately, that wasn’t something that could happen biologically any longer – so we began to look at adoption. David is an only child and in hindsight – a person might say I took advantage of his naiveté by suggesting that one or two more wouldn’t be that big of a deal. We began to research different forms of adoption – domestic infant adoption and international adoption to be specific. Adoption through foster care wasn’t on our radar – anytime anyone would say “foster care” I had a vague, uneasy feeling. Best not to get involved with something like that, I thought.
Ultimately, we realized that we didn’t need a baby – as we’d already had three of those – and there were folks waiting to adopt babies that didn’t have any children at all. International adoption was very appealing – except for the price tag – and though I’m sure we could have figured something out – we really didn’t have a lot of disposable income to dedicate to growing our family.
We realized that becoming a foster family was just an extension of the core beliefs we have as a family and try to act on in our church and in the community. Helping another family through a time of crisis. That’s what fostering is – coming alongside another family and supporting them during an extraordinarily difficult time.
When people think of helping other families through difficult times – they think of natural disasters, illness, etc. Things that happen to a family that are out of their control – not crises created by the parents due to poor choices they have made.
I think that people have a very difficult time extending a hand to people that they see as adults who should be responsible and contributing members of society – at a minimum being able to care for the children they have created. Unfortunately, that attitude hurts everyone – but most especially the children.
Children in foster care generally aren’t coming from families who have a history of stability in resources, mental health, and/or good choices. Over and over again the cycle continues, leaving the next generation of children just as at risk as the one before – if not more. Many people assume that if these folks had just made the right choices all along they wouldn’t be in this situation. They say – look at me – I made good choices and that’s why I am where I am today.
Except that the deck was likely already stacked in your favor. When you were little you weren’t going to school hungry and wondering where you could steal food to feed your baby brother because your parents were not taking care of you. Your choices were probably what sports you wanted to participate in and which books you wanted to buy from the book fair.
These children grow up without ever having had the opportunity to make the kind of choices you made. They become parents and the cycle starts over again.
These children are not responsible for the poor choices of their parents. Coming alongside families in need as a foster family is something you do for the hungry, smart, scared, funny, and neglected children.
This was one of the biggest concerns our family had about becoming a foster family. All I can say is that this is a perfectly understandable and normal concern. We took a leap of faith and started the 13 week course to become a foster family – telling ourselves that we would see how things went – that we would be open to learning about it and decide later whether or not we would do it.
Each week we had a 3 hour class and each week we learned more and more about the children in foster care. We talked to our biological kids about our lessons and were sure to answer their questions and listen to their concerns. Obviously – we did decide to become a foster family – and we did it fully accepting that we might bring children into our home that would eventually go back to their biological families. We decided that we wanted to have the opportunity to be a safe home, a stable influence, and a voice in the system for a child or children – and that this outweighed our concern over heartbreak.
Most foster care case plans have a main goal of reunification with the biological family with a concurrent goal of adoption. This seems counterintuitive – but in fact it saves a significant amount of time for children in foster care. While the biological parents are working on the things the court has said they need to fix in order to be a safe and appropriate home for their children – the caseworker for the children is also working to make sure that there is a permanent home ready if and when the parents are unable to complete their case plan.
It seems like the children in foster care have lots of special needs. I don’t think I could take on a child with significant medical or emotional issues.
Children in foster care do have special needs – mainly having experienced trauma as a result of abuse and/or neglect. Some children have significant emotional issues. Some children are in foster care because they were born with major medical challenges that their family was unable to handle.
An important thing to know about becoming a foster family is that you work with a caseworker to outline a profile for the type of child that your family would best be equipped to foster. For instance – no one is going to place a child with a feeding tube with you unless you have indicated that you are ready, willing, and able to help such a child. The same goes for different types of emotional issues.
When our boys came to stay with us we were surprised to find out that many things their previous foster home had said were “behavioral issues” were actually for the most part just typical behavior for children their age. Having already parented children of those ages – we were usually able to identify issues that were trauma related as opposed to just normal childhood behavior.
The bottom line is that you determine what kind of needs your family can handle and you are able to say yes or no to any placement.
It’s important to understand that as a foster family you are never really “on your own.” You have a caseworker for the child and in some cases a caseworker for your family. You have therapists and your pediatrician, teachers and other foster parents. Talk about “it takes a village”! Our church family and our extended family were all very supportive of us – which was huge!
Find adoption and foster information, resources and help at the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
Guest writer Cathy Keck Adcock is the mom of 5 boys and 1 girl, 3 bio and 3 adopted. Her paying day job is working as an ecommerce buyer but she is also a full time smart aleck and procrastinator.