Are You Really Ready to Adopt a Foster Child?


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November is National Adoption Awareness Month and there are millions of children waiting for permanent homes in the United States.

But beware, adopting a child may not be as easy of a process as one might think when going through the foster care system to find a child. It would seem like with such a high demand for “forever homes” that it would be lickety split but its not. There is alot  to consider.

As owner and writer of this blog, It’s Almost Tuesday, I have developed many goals over the years that I would like to see realized for myself as an author/advocate, and for my original short story seen on the main page of my blog,  It’s Almost Tuesday

Albeit, It’s Almost Tuesday was written as a fictional story, but I wrote it based on true stories of child abuse that I had learned about that was occurring within the Texas Foster Care System.

One of my goals … or  my hopes, rather, is that my story, It’s Almost Tuesday, will one day  become “recommended reading” for all foster parents and parents who are considering the adoption of a foster child. I believe social workers who work in the placement of the children, as well, should read It’s Almost Tuesday.

I wrote the story using the exact words of my 8 year old son whenever possible. Words he spoke to me during our visits that detailed what was going on and what he was going through during his stay in  foster care. As you read the story, those powerful words are the very real words of my child!

The story may be fictional, but it is very real indeed. It reveals a truth that social workers and foster parents know all too well and adoptive parents should be aware of. There has been much that deeply affected these children after what all they have been through.

First thing first, understand that when you consider adopting a foster child, you consider becoming the permanent  or  “forever home” that child has been waiting for. 

This is a child who has had no sense of normalcy, whose life has been lacking stability, without consistency, or any constant sense of security in very likely a long time ..possibly years.

You may very likely become the first positive influence and role model in that childs life. This role carries great weight and heavy responsibility.

Do not be discouraged. There are many wonderful blessings you have to offer, as an adoptive family, to a very special child in your permanent forever home.

Ask yourself: Are you and your family really ready to make such a paramount decision and strong commitment which will surely be necessary? Are you ready for this life changing experience?

Be honest with yourself.

*Many foster children are special needs,come from an ethnic minority group, and/or has siblings. Consider all of your family’s strengths and weaknesses. 

Have you considered what age range you are looking for? 

Are you deadset determined on adopting an infant or toddler?  Or would you consider adopting an older, harder-to-place child?

Are you willing to consider adopting a child outside of your particular race? 

Be real and dont worry about questioning your every decision, there are no right or wrong answers, only important questions with sometimes difficult answers to seek when making the (right) decision.

*Do you know what it means for a child to be “special needs”? Do you understand, completely, what a “special needs adoption” means?  Are you sure that a “special needs adoption” is right for you?

The trauma of foster care carries many emotional and behavioral changes in the children that may prove challenging to any family, not just yours. 

Do not be afraid to ask questions and reach out for help along your path.

Take the time to research the mental health conditions that are common to foster children. Many of these children have suffered abuse and neglect and then they were sent on a very scary journey through the foster care system.

Reactive Attachment Disorder , Bi-Polar Disorder, and ADHD are a few common problems these children often exhibit.

Be sure you are prepared for these challenges. Google is your friend. There are many useful sites available online to assist you along the way.

*Laws vary from state to state. What rules and regulations are required in your local area?

Make sure your family is eligible and qualified for an adoption of a foster child.

You may be required to have a home study done that will help determine if you are qualified to adopt. What are the areas of concern that the social workers will look at when doing the home study?

Some examples of home study items may include items such as: the number of bedrooms in the home, your marital status, the combined income of your household, the number of people living in your home, and  what criminal/cps background record (if any) each person in the household may have, etc.

It is better to have an idea, beforehand, of what you are up against when qualifying to adopt a foster child.

*Make sure you wholly understand the position of your local agency on foster children and adoption.

Make sure you’re on the same page.  Many times the goal of foster care is to reunite the child with the natural parents. When you look to adopt, make sure that you are clear with the social worker that you are seeking only a child who is “legally free” for adoption.

The child is not “legally free” for adoption unless parental rights have been severed with the natural parents.

*Besides the home study you may also be required to take some training classes as well.

Check with your local family advocacy center for what class you will be required to enroll in. You may have a certain number of hours to complete in a certain area of training.

Remember, it is not an easy or quick process to adopt a foster child, and it could very easily take a year or more to complete.

Be prepared for the long haul  and ask alot of questions. You’ll be glad you did. Knowledge is power. The more you know, the smoother the process will go.

When the process is going smoothly you’ll be better able to focus on the most important aspect -your forever child.

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Good luck and Godspeed.

source of information includes:
Deciding if Foster Care Or Adoption Is Right For You. By Rachael Moshman.
Suburban
Parent magazine, November 2012.

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