November is National Adoption Month. This month is set aside to bring awareness to the growing number of children in foster care who need a loving home. As someone who adopted from foster care, I understand the needs of the kids and the fear of adopting a child from the state.
When I began fostering in 2013 I wanted to adopt but quickly realized that the kids needed my love more than I needed to have a child. I quickly shifted my mindset to care for whatever child God put in my home.
What is Foster Care?
Foster care is where kids go when someone feels they’re not safe. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) removes them from the home and puts them in a foster home. A foster home can be a group facility with many kids or a home with a foster mom and dad. Some kids come into foster care with only the clothes they’re wearing. Others come with a trash bag filled with some important things.
While they’re in foster care, it is mom or dad’s job to take parenting courses, test negative for drugs, and follow judge’s orders to get their children back. As a foster parent, my job is to care for them until that happens. It can be anywhere from a few months to 4 years. Unfortunately, some families never get reunited. It could be for a variety of things. Maybe the parents were unable to comply with important safety measures, or they were in prison, or there were no family members able to take them.
When that happens, children are permanently separated from their biological family in a hearing to terminate parental rights. If those children are already in a pre-adoptive foster home, they’ll begin the adoption process and will hopefully stay there forever. If they’re not, then the state will place them up for adoption and they may be adopted by anyone who qualifies and is ready to give them a great, loving home.
Children who don’t get adopted at a young age have a hard time getting adopted and most stay in foster care until they turn 18 and are free to live life as they please. During National Adoption Month, there are many efforts placed on adopting those children so that doesn’t happen.
Fear of Foster Care
Most people I speak to about foster care are afraid of 2 things. People are afraid of getting attached and then having to give back the kids. And they’re terrified of adopting children from foster care who have had traumatic experiences.
I always tell families looking to get into foster care to not worry about getting attached. Yes, you will absolutely get attached. You will love them with all you have. But when you love, you want to do what’s best for the child. And although it seems you may be the better fit, sometimes the best fit is with their biological family. When it’s not best to send them back home, you may be able to adopt them.
Over time, your heart will become stronger and it will be easier to let go. It will also be easier to understand that whatever is for you will be for you and what’s not is ok.
Fear of Adoption
Some people fear bringing home a child from foster care who will have more issues than the family can handle. Many of the issues children have can be squashed with love. With a little time building their trust, you can get further than you think. Kids really just want to feel safe. Show a child that they will be loved by you no matter what and they will become family. For issues that need more than love, the State of Florida provides post-adoption services like therapy, college tuition, and a stipend until the age of 18.
There is no doubt that adopting a child will be different than having a biological child. You don’t have 9 months to prepare, there is no baby shower, and you definitely won’t get that yummy baby smell. But you will have a child who won’t judge you and will be grateful for loving him. You’ll have a child who wants to make you proud and who’s nervously excited to become part of your family.
Click here to find out more about adopting a child from foster care.