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When Zach and I made the decision to adopt we chose to go the domestic, private adoption route (you can read about some of our reasons why here!). Today Natasha, from Let’s Be Brave, is sharing nine myths about adopting from foster care:
I hear these comments all the time. Adopting from foster care is too expensive, hard, heartbreaking, etc. – fill in the blank with whatever you want. And while it’s always good to consider the challenges that will come along with any choice you’re going to make, it’s also important to be properly informed. Below are nine myths I hear all the time about why people shouldn’t adopt from foster care.
1. Adopting from foster care is too expensive.
Adopting from foster care is not expensive. A lot of children in foster care qualify for adoption subsidy so sometimes your adoption is completely free. If you end up having to pay for your adoption, it shouldn’t cost more than $1500. Many employers offer adoption benefits and there are state and federal tax credits. There are also tons of resources and benefits (monetary and non-monetary) to help you while you do foster care.
2. Children in foster care are bad.
So false. The vast majority of children in foster care are just normal good kids who entered into the system through no fault of their own. They were neglected, abused, or abandoned by the people who were supposed to keep them safe yet failed to do so, and now they just need a soft place to land. Yes, sometimes they have a lot of healing to do because of what they’ve experienced, but that doesn’t make them bad. It makes them strong. It makes them resilient. It makes them brave. But definitely not bad.
3. Children in foster care have too many medical/special needs.
Definitely not true! It is true that many children in foster care need some time and/or help to heal from what they’ve experienced, and some have been exposed to drugs. But there are many, many children who do not have any significant medical or special needs. They are mostly just children who have had a rough start in life and need a stable, loving family.
4. Birth parents can get the children back.
Once a child is legally free for adoption, birth parents have no right to claim a child or petition to get a child back. Foster care adoptions are just as legitimate and permanent as private and international adoptions.
5. Foster care adoptions are all open adoptions
Adoptive parents may decide to have an open adoption with their child’s birth parents, but that choice remains with the adoptive parents. You are not forced to build a relationship with the child’s birth parents, or even the child’s extended family. Personally, we believe that if you can have an open adoption – that is, if it’s a safe and healthy option for the child and your family – then that’s the best choice. But it’s a very personal choice for each family. It’s not something forced on an adoptive family.
6. Single people cannot adopt from foster care.
Single people are legally allowed to adopt in all 50 states, and there are many foster care agencies that will license single people.
7. If you adopt an older child they’ll never feel like yours.
There is no reason that just because you adopt an older child, he won’t ever feel like yours. You can bond with a child of any age! Simply because you adopt a child when he’s older and miss the smooshy baby stage doesn’t mean you’ve missed it all. There are so many firsts to be had and to bond over! We adopted our three oldest kids at the ages of 7, 5, and 2. We took all of them to the beach for the first time and took them on their first airplane. My husband took Laurel to her first daddy/daughter dance. We we there for Bennett’s first day of school. We’re currently potty training Christopher (not my favorite milestone, but a milestone nonetheless!).
8. Dealing with the foster care system is too hard.
Ok, so this myth is the one that has any truth to it. It’s not exactly a “myth.” Dealing with other people enforcing rules in your home, putting boundaries on your family, coming in and out of your life as they please – these things are not easy. But they are worth it. I guarantee you that dealing with the system is much harder on the kids in it than it will ever be on you. The mere fact that they’re even in the system is devastating to their little lives. Can you even imagine losing everything you’ve ever known and having to go live with strangers? It’s a terrifying thought. Sure, dealing with the system is hard, but it’s not so hard that you shouldn’t do it.
9. Foster care is too heartbreaking.
I hear this one ALL. THE. TIME. Or some version of it. “I could never do that.” “I don’t know how you do that.” “I could never give them back.” “I’m not strong enough for that.” “It’s not worth the risk.” “I couldn’t handle that.” You name it, I’ve heard it. But, as with any form of adoption – or becoming a parent, for that matter – there are risks. It’s often a long road fraught with uncertainty. But most foster parents will tell you that the kids are worth the heartbreak. Your adult heart has so many more coping mechanisms than the tiny heart of a small child. If you can take any part of their hurt and help heal it or shield them from it, that’s a win, and you should absolutely do it. We fostered twin baby boys a few years ago and we still get to see them a couple times a year. They went to an aunt who ADORES them and takes such great care of them, but even so, when they left I cried. A LOT. But I’d do it again and again for them to end up where they are now. It was so worth it.
These “reasons” not to adopt from foster care aren’t really reasons at all! Foster care is hard but not too hard, and if you want to adopt and feel at all led to do foster care, do it! Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back. Get informed, find a support system, and open your hearts and home to a child who needs a family. If you have any questions at all I’d be so happy to talk with you! You can contact me by sending me an Instagram DM @natashacombs or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natasha is a work-at-home lawyer and mama to 4 kids – Laurel (8), Bennett (6), Christopher (3), and Everly (1), with twin boys on the way. She blogs about foster care, adoption, IVF, pregnancy, and mamahood at Let’s Be Brave.
You can also read all about my personal experience with adopting our son, Spear, on this page!