Adopt a Teen????

Last year, I attended a foster parent training and something extraordinary happened.

Before class started, I walked over to say hi to a fellow foster mom.  She was sitting with her foster child, a teenaged girl.

The three of us began to talk.  Her teen foster daughter was cool.  Smart.  Funny.  We talked about fantasy books and music and art.

And I walked away thinking, hey, we should consider fostering teens.

If that was my sole takeaway, that in itself would have been awesome.

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But, last weekend, I saw that that teen girl is available for adoption.  She’s listed on AdoptUSKids.

For the first time over the many years I’ve browsed AdoptUSKids, I actually know someone who is featured as searching for a family.

Her picture is a little dorky.  The paltry eight sentences summing her up don’t do her justice.  There’s  no video.  If I hadn’t met her, I probably would have skipped right over her entry.

But she is so much more than her profile on AdoptUSKids.

And then, as I was writing this blog, my husband popped over to where I was sitting at our dining room table.

And I said, hey remember that girl?  She’s looking for a family.

And my husband says maybe we should think about adopting her.  ADOPT?!?!?

This is mind blowing.  Because we haven’t been planning to adopt anyone.  Because we had never thought about adopting a teen.  Because we already have two teens and I don’t know how they would feel about us adding a family member so close in age.  Savvy is at boarding school and we don’t want her to feel like she’s being replaced.  Silent One is a teen boy – is it weird as a teen to suddenly have a teen of the opposite gender be a family member?  And how do you afford college?  And the biggie – what’s a relationship with an adopted teen like?

I don’t know, people.  How crazy is it to be considering this based off a short 5-10 minute conversation we had a year ago?

The Paid Foster Parent?

I wish I could be paid to be a foster mom.

Gasp! I said it out loud.

I want money to be a foster parent.

Clearly, I must hate all children and just want to take them into my home to make a buck.

No, actually. There’s nothing further from the truth.

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I simply want to put a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes on our backs, and care for children who need it the most.

Is that so wrong??

Culturally, I’m not sure why we feel it’s wrong to make ends meet while caring for someone else’s children. Why we assume that wanting to be a professional foster parent equals being a money grubbing, heartless fiend.

The other professionals working in foster care are paid – the social worker, therapist, school teacher, guardian ad litem (lawyer), family court judge, and police officer. It just seems natural that these experts are both paid to do their jobs AND that they care about the child in question.

After all, they have to eat, right?

Well, so do I and all my fellow foster parents.

But for some reason, we have to pay for the privilege of fostering.

Where I live, we apparently shell out $10,000+ for this privilege.***

No wonder there’s a shortage of foster parents.

No wonder foster parents mostly represent the upper middle class and don’t reflect the full diversity of our communities.

Not too many people can afford to pay ten grand to raise some stranger’s child.

Right now, there are empty bedrooms with empty beds in my house, when they could be filled with children who need a place to call home.

We had some unexpected expenses and are paying the bills off before we welcome more foster children. Because we can’t afford to do otherwise.

In the meantime, I know there are hurting children who are being sent to group homes and institutions due to a shortage of foster homes. There are no welcoming families waiting for them with open arms.

And it breaks my heart.

I’m here. And I’m willing.

But my bank account is holding us back.

If only I could be paid to be a foster parent, there’d be hurt children with a place to call home right now.

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*** My math is derived from the following. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) calculates how much a person must earn in order to meet basic daily expenses like food, housing and transportation (http://livingwage.mit.edu). How minimum are we talking here? Well, the average cost per meal equals $2 per person. So, pretty basic.

Where I live, two adults living together need to earn $44,000 per year to scrape by. If you add a child, you need another $17,000 per year to put a roof over your head, food on the table, and wheels to get you to work. However, foster care pays $6,492 per year for one child. This means the foster family has to pay $10,616 for the privilege of caring for someone else’s child. ($17,000 – $6,492 = $10,508)


Read other great posts at the Adoption Talk link up.

No Bohns About It

Starting a Birth Mom Search?

Today I started researching how to find Silent One’s birth family (aka first family). Man, it’s daunting.

Finding a birth mom seems like the proverbial needle in the haystack. Looking online, it seems there are some search services, but how do you know if they’re reputable? How much is a reasonable cost? What’s the likelihood of success?

More importantly, should I even be doing the search?

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In my mind’s eye, I envision handing a package to Silent One shortly after he turns 18. Inside, it contains his birth records and adoption papers. There’s a hand-written note, telling him that inside another envelope is information about what his birth family is doing now, who’s alive, and where they live. This note lets him know that he doesn’t have to open it. That he can save it for later. Or for never. That the love we have for him will always remain and that knowing or not knowing his birth family won’t change this fact.

But maybe this is a journey that adoptees need to undertake by themselves.

I don’t want Silent One to feel pushed.

But I also don’t want to wait until it’s too late, and the trail has grown cold. As time marches on, people pass away and documents get misplaced. Gathering the information now is a way to safeguard that treasure for him.

Still, so much was taken from Silent One when he was just a little boy. He had no choice in losing his first family and gaining a second.

Maybe the right thing to do is gather the information, but not share it unless he says he wants to look for his first mama?