Adopting out of Foster Care – a Joy and a Challenge!

Adopting out of foster care is awesome.  We adopted out of international foster care and might end up adopting out of domestic foster care .  You don’t have to take our word that foster-to-adopt is a super great way to build a family.  Check out the blogs of No Bohns About It or  Adoptive Black Mom or Fostering Hope – three other families that have adopted out of foster care.

Today, I’m going to look at the hurdles that are specific to foster-to-adopt, as part of the Adoption Talk Link Up challenge.  Let me tell you up front – all of these hurdles can be overcome and, if you do, you’ll be happy you stuck it out.

1.  Living in Limbo

In many states, you will be dual licensed as both regular foster parents and adoptive parents.  When you get a placement, you might not know if this child will be with you forever or not.  For me, this is actually a perk, because you can definitely be sure that the child you’re adopting was given every opportunity to stay with their birth family.  No worries that you “stole” the baby.  You’ll be part of the team that is helping the birth parents get their lives back on track, and if that doesn’t work, you’ll be the one to make sure that child has a safe, forever home.

2.  Probably Not a Newborn

Children in foster care range from newborn to teenagers.  You can specify what age child you are interested in, and it helps to be flexible.  If you feel strongly about having little ones, you can say 0-3 or 0-5 years.  (Attempting Agape had a great explanation of why foster kids who are available for adoption tend to be older.)  But adding older kids to your family can be awesome.  Our adopted son Silent One came home at age 6 and our current foster kids who might turn into forever ours are 8 and 10.  We’ve loved having them and they are just as much a part of our family as our daughter Sassy who was born to us.

3.  Maybe a Complicated Extended Family

Kids being adopted out of foster care may want or need to stay in touch with extended family members.  This is true of domestic infant adoption, too.  Open adoption is becoming the norm.  However, former foster kids often have family members struggling with issues such as drug addiction or depression.  Your adopted child may just be the way for you to stretch and open your heart, realizing that these afflictions are not chosen.  The type of ongoing contact may be limited – think Skype or birthday cards – if the state decides that’s best.  Studies have shown, though, that a child who maintains connections with their bio families tend to have fewer adjustment problems later on in life.

4.  Maybe Ongoing Needs

Foster kids are more likely to have ongoing needs than domestic infant adoptions.  It’s unclear for international adoptions where medical information may be limited before adopting.  Therapy is the most common type of ongoing care that foster kids need.  The good news is you usually know exactly what type of medical, psychological or education needs your foster-to-adopt child will need.  This isn’t the case with newborns or international adoptions.  And, the state will help pay for your new child’s ongoing care.  Just like a baby needs lots of its parents’ time and attention, so will a child who needs a little bit of extra help.  This is a good thing as all that extra time and energy you spend on that child will help the two of you bond.

5.  Definitely Paperwork

All adoption requires a lot of paperwork – background checks, home studies, legal documents.  With foster care, you’ll have all of that, plus the foster care paperwork.  I like to think of this as the “paper birth.”  Just like pregnancy requires lots of not fun physical changes, adoption requires lots of not fun bureaucratic processes.  But just like pregnancy’s nine months, the paper birth helps you prepare mentally and physically for bringing a child into your home.

So hurdles?  Yes.  Worthwhile?  More than you’ll ever imagine!


2 thoughts on “Adopting out of Foster Care – a Joy and a Challenge!

  1. Thanks for the great post — definitely important stuff to think about. As an add-on, it’s important to consider the longevity of adoption. While it may be easier to manage particular “issues” a child may have at 3 or 4, these issues may cause more significant challenges as the child gets older, especially when it comes to education, employment, etc. It’s important to consider how you will manage such issues in the future. Also, knowing that a foster care placement is temporary may help you cope with a stressful or difficult placement, but committing to having that child (or children) with you all the time, forever, may require a little bit of thought. I’m not trying to discourage adoption because I definitely want to adopt myself, just thought I’d play devil’s advocate a little bit!


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