A couple of weeks ago I sat in a room with foster and adoptive parents, child-placing agency reps, and other leaders in our city involved with working with foster and adoptive families. We are putting together some information to help mentor families walk with families who are considering fostering or adopting (both domestic and international).
One of the questions we discussed was this one—”What does every potential parent need to know?”
We quickly filled the white board. But, we understand that it’s kind of like married couples putting together a list of what engaged couples need to know about marriage. It’s hard for us to hear good, sound advice when we are in the courting phase of a relationship.
But just maybe you are different as you consider making this monumental commitment to a child or more that most definitely come from a hard place.
Here are some of the things this group came up with to pass on to you:
- Prepare your family for a drastic life-style change. If you are used to traveling twice a year out of state for vacation, you might need to postpone these for a few years. If you and your spouse work 60 plus hours a week, that might need to change. In other words, if you try to keep doing life the way you did before you foster or adopt, you most likely will face big challenges. Danielle and I were used to going on at least one mission trip per year before we began fostering and then adopted. We put that on hold for a couple of years before we each went on a trip. Even now, five years into our foster/adoption journey, we have decided that we need postpone that part of our lifestyle for a bit longer.
- Look for ongoing support. Please don’t try to do this alone. Before accepting that first foster placement or bringing home your adopted child, put a team of support together. This will include family, friends, and professionals.
- Know that resources are available. This dovetails off looking for ongoing support. All kinds of support is available, such as, ongoing training, online videos and articles, books, support groups, conferences, counselors, doctors, etc. You also need to know that you probably will have to use a different set of doctors than what you use with your biological children.
- Make sure your whole family is in. You would be surprised how many jump into this commitment when even the husband and wife aren’t on the same page. Just as important is that your children are all in on the idea as well. This commitment might have the most impact on their lives.
- Understand the child(ren). Like any child, these children are unique and have different needs. As the parent, you need to engage that child, learning as much as you can about who they are and where they come from. Learn what Trauma Care is and how to connect and empower your child while you correct them.
- Remember that healing is ongoing. It is tempting to assess your child’s needs and come up with a timeline for when your child will be declared healed from their past. A better approach will be to expect different challenges to surface as your child ages. Another reason to have adequate support and resources in place.
- Learn about Trauma Care. Even if you held your adopted baby in the delivery room, odds are he experienced some trauma. If your child suffered abuse, neglect or many other risk factors from time spent in foster care or institutional care, they no doubt experienced trauma. Learning how trauma effects brain chemistry and behavior will help you know how to connect, empower and correct your child.
For more information here are some Steps to Foster or Adopt.