This post is from a guest blogger. I will be adding additional foster to adopt posts in the future. While it’s not a subject I have direct experience with, I think it’s a topic that many people are curious about and fearful of. – Sarah
Why You Should Not Fear Adoption from Foster Care
Stephanie Rosic | September 23, 2013 | 01:48 PM
While my blog focuses primarily on my experience of domestic infant adoption, there are many ways for adoption to grow a family. I reached out to my adoption support group “Celebrate Adoption” asking if anyone would be interested in sharing their “foster to adopt” story. Thank you Stephanie for sharing this with us. – Sarah
When I met my daughter for the first time she was almost three months old. She was wearing a pink baby onesie with bloomers and on her tiny feet she wore socks with pink scrolling letters that said “I love my Mommy.” She had that baby fresh smell and as she was placed in my arms by our social worker I was also handed a bottle full of formula just mixed by her foster mother. This little girl, with the long fingers and big brown inquisitive eyes was my daughter at last. As we gazed at one another I wondered if she was thinking of her foster mother. I was her third ‘mother’ in three months, but I promised one thing that day – in my arms you will stay.
As we drove out of the city I was overwhelmed with gratefulness for both my daughter’s birthmother and also for her foster mother who cared lovingly for her for nearly three months. Foster care allowed my daughter a safe environment to wait for us while we waited for her. Once we found each other, foster care allowed us to begin the process of foster/adopt immediately. This is not to say that we had not followed many steps to reach that moment in which I held my daughter. We had found a reputable agency, completed the seemingly unending application process, finished our home study with several visits, reached approval, were matched with our daughter and then ultimately our baby girl was placed with us. Almost one year later we finalized our adoption in court. Adopting from foster care is a laborious process but a fruitful one.
When I share my story or talk with others about adoption from foster care most of the time I encounter a fearful response. You will find me taking a deep breath while I wait out the horrifying story of the one adoption they know of that went sideways. And when they are finally finished with that one story and proceed to tell me how brave I am to adopt from foster care, I tell them a few key facts. Generally, I can boil their fearfulness down to three areas.
Fear: Foster children have complicated histories that ultimately make them unavailable for adoption.
Truth: There are over 104,000 children who are legally free and waiting to be adopted in the United States from foster care. It is estimated that in 2012 alone over 58,000 children were made legally free and ready to adopt. Legally free meaning that both birthparents have legally terminated their rights and these beautiful children are ready and waiting for a family. This was my daughter.
Fear: Birthparents return and disrupt domestic adoptions from foster care.
Truth: Very few birth families will reappear after legally terminating their rights. Over 98% of legally completed adoptions remain intact. Those children in foster care in which reunions with birth families are possible work toward that reality. More than half of the children currently in foster care will be returned joyfully to their birthparents or extended relatives. We should rejoice in that statistic. But that leaves the remaining children who cannot be returned to birth families for a diverse range of reasons, and so they wait in foster care for families. This was my daughter.
Fear: Children in foster care have special needs or things I can’t provide them.
Truth: Kids in foster care are normal, regular kids. They need support, guidance, and someone to care for them like any child. Some children in foster care do have specific medical needs, yes, but not all. Post-adoption support and mentorship from your agency or support group can aid you in processing such needs if they arise. However, all waiting children in foster care do have hopes, aspirations, a need to be loved and celebrated, and a place to belong. This was my daughter.
My hope is that more people would consider adopting from foster care. I’m not saying that sometimes foster adoptions don’t go as planned, and hearts get broken all around. Those things sadly do happen. But what I am saying to those considering adoption is do not be persuaded solely by that one story you once heard about foster adoption going badly, but rather look for and commit to care for a child from foster care who needs a family to champion them in life.
Ten years after I first held her in my arms, my daughter is still just a regular kid, with a regular mom, and a promise made to never let her go.
*All statistics taken from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report
For more about Stephanie and to visit her blog check out www.stephanierosic.com