Foster Care: Talking about Adoption 

How does the foster care system talk about adoption when the main goal is  NOT adoption, but rather to reunite kids with their birth families?

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Here’s what it looked like for us.

When we decided that we would like to become foster parents and provide a temporary home to children, the County required us to be trained as and approved as potential adoptive parents.  This dual licensing is required for all foster parents where I live, because so many foster parents end up wanting to adopt if the kids don’t go back home.

When our 11 year old foster daughter and 9 year old foster son joined our family, the County noted that their case could end with the children going home or going to a relative or being placed for adoption.

Months later, the County told us that a relative placement wouldn’t happen. So it was going home or adoption.

The children’s lawyer explained to us that she was going to request adoption as a concurrent goal. That means she asked the judge to tell the County to simultaneously pursue reunification and adoption. The judge agreed.

The judge was open in court, saying he would find in favor of adoption if dad didn’t take certain steps by a particular date.

The County, the lawyer (GAL), and CASA were all open in asking us if we were interested in adopting. They didn’t know if they’d ask us to adopt just the two children who lived with us or their little brother, too.

The foster family for the little brother frankly shared with us that they could adopt the one child they had, but didn’t feel they could take on all three children.

We adamantly assured the kids’ dad that our first goal was returning the children back to him. But if that couldn’t happen, we would consider adopting and would like him to be part of their lives going forward.

He made sure we knew that what he really wanted was his children returned home.

No one told the kids that adoption was being considered. The idea is to not confuse the kids and only cross that bridge after the decision is made.  Ultimately, the kids returned to their dad.

How does it feel to talk about adoption as a back-up plan?  It’s weird. You’re pulled in different directions, wanting both outcomes.  Or neither. Or see sawing between one and the other. You feel more attached, because these could be your forever children.  But overall, it feels good to know that the children will find a permanent, loving solution no matter what.

This posting is part of Adoption Talk Link Up.  Check out what other people have to say about “Talking about Adoption.”

No Bohns About It

2 thoughts on “Foster Care: Talking about Adoption 

  1. I don’t think I’ve every heard anyone say that both outcomes (reunification and adoption) result in a permanent and loving home for foster children. That is such a great point to make – and also wonderful that you can see the reason to celebrate either outcome. That’s so wise!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for sharing your family’s experience. I am truly sorry for your pain relative to the kids going back to their dad, and I thank you for being a loving and caring resource for children.

    I have considered the question you posed regarding what it means to foster parents when adoption is a stated backup plan from the outset. Our state/county does not require adoption home studies of all foster parents as yours does, which, in my opinion, is a good thing, and prevents the split loyalty somewhat. Let’s face it: foster parents are supposed to be the neutral party when it comes to birth parents, and I think it is too much of setup for foster parents to become “blanket” potential adoption resources, placing them in the position to be a part-time neutral party from the start, which is simply not possible.

    Our county of residence’s system, while certainly not perfect, allows foster parents to choose to become studied for adoption but also asks those potential adoptive parents to consider what amount of risk they are willing to absorb from the outset relative to which children get placed with them. Again, this doesn’t prevent heartbreak because humans are too complex to reliably and predictably constrain personal feelings, but at least the conversation is initiated. And even with this checkpoint in place, families always have the underlying possibility of losing a child that seemed “unlikely to reunify” or be asked to keep a child they did not think would even have an adoption plan. I disagree with what your state is doing personally and professionally because the concurrent adoption home study requirement preys on a human emotion that is always unreliable: guilt.

    So, the short answer, in my humble opinion, is a human being will never be a part-time neutral party, and for as long as we all remain foster parents, we’ll be in the position to experience immense pain and loss in the state’s pursuit of keeping kids with their families of origin.

    Liked by 1 person

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