Earlier this year I wrote a blog, 9 Misguided Motives for Fostering or Adopting. I wrote that blog to caution people considering foster care or adoption to think through their motives. Why? Because foster care and/or adoption is hard and complex. Any child deserves for you to take the time to check your motives and count the cost.
John M Simmons, author and adoptive parent, left a comment on that blog suggesting that I write about some reasons to foster and adopt. Yes, families should and need to put thought into how fostering and adopting will affect them. However, there are many good reasons to decide to foster or adopt a child.
When it comes to adoption, three ways to adopt exist—from foster care, domestic or international.
What are the most common reasons people adopt?
- To provide a permanent home to a child.
- To expand their family.
- Wanted a sibling for a child.
- Already adopted the child’s sibling.
This graph reports the percentage of adopted child by parents’ reasons for choosing to adopt, by adoption type. From the Department of Health and Human Services
What are 5 surprising reasons why YOU should consider fostering and adopting?
- Opportunity. You have an opportunity to reach beyond yourself and your current family to meet the needs of a child.
- Challenge. Yes, adopting or fostering children probably will be one of the hardest things you have ever done. That is why it’s important to count the cost. But what better challenge to take on?
- Impact. The obvious impact is on a child’s life. What goes unnoticed sometimes is the impact your decision can have on the biological family, your own family and others around you.
- Healing. If a child needs a foster or adoptive family, then something went wrong. Trauma, abuse, neglect, abandonment—any fostered or adopted child will need healing. You can help a child heal.
- Fulfillment. Usually the things in life that need the greatest commitment, are the most challenging and cause immense pain are the very things that fulfill us the most. It’s when we play things safe or take the easy route that life becomes mundane.
What steps should you take if you are considering fostering or adopting?
(adapted from www.FosteringHopeAustin.org)
- Learn from others. Having conversations with at least two or three other families who have fostered or adopted, ideally from situations like yours, will be one of the best ways in determining if this is right for you. Find someone who is willing to be honest about their experiences. Ask them what characteristics and resources they have that helped them overcome challenges.
- Analyze your motives and expectations. The motivations and expectations you have for fostering or adopting play a significant role in your relationship with your future child. Examining your reasons for fostering and adopting now, and potentially adjusting those reasons as you learn more, is an important step to providing unconditional love to a child.
- Recruit a team for support. Fostering or adopting is done best when a community of people care for and support your family. You shouldn’t travel this road alone, and your process can be a blessing to others and to your child. Are there two or three trusted people/families who are committed to caring for you regularly through prayer and practical help, both during your initial process and once you have your child home?
- Determine what child might best fit your family. Consider whether you want to foster, foster to adopt, domestic or international adopt. Think through what age, ethnicity, number, special needs and so on.
- Select a child placing agency. Ask others who have fostered or adopted which agency they chose and why. The best way to learn about an agency is from someone who has already worked with them.
- Equip your family with training and resources. Approximately 35 hours of training are required to foster (some agencies may vary slightly), and adoption agencies require training as well. The topics often include: child attachment, loss and grief, discipline and behavior intervention, effects of abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, working with the child welfare system, and the effects of fostering and adopting on the family.
- Prepare your family. There is a saying in the adoption and fostering world: “Hurry up and wait”. Use this time to prepare for your future child. Attend trainings, read books, talk with other families. Keep your support team updated on what is going on (even if there is nothing happening!)