Monday, March 10, 2014

Foster... adopt?

I feel like I'm going to be somewhat unproductive until I get these words out.  I've always been a writer.
I think people who knew me age 19 and younger are shocked that I didn't pursue writing as a career, not because I was great, but because I was always writing.  Something trailed off around college, too much comparing to others, too much of a feeling like there were enough writers and my added voice wasn't anything special.  Plus, I watched my mom go through the very difficult journey of becoming a published writer, and as proud as I am of her, it wasn't a journey I really wanted for myself.  But something about the peculiar story of fostering has me at it again, and now I can't stop.  It makes me wonder how I lived the past decade without writing much.

B and I had a long, very good conversation last night about fostering.  We hoped to decide what to do about the potential placement of newborn twins, and we did make a decision.  We won't be taking the twins.  I know what made me say yes originally, but we couldn't figure out why B did.  He doesn't want to take on more than one foster child for at least another year or two.  He is nearly ready to be done with newborns.  None of this adds up to newborn twins being a good fit for our family, but sometimes it's just being asked that makes you want to say yes.  The fact that I'm more ready to jump in does not make it a good decision.  First, I am often willfully blind to difficulties ahead when my heart wants to say yes.  Second, we need to be a team.  Setting up a family scenario that's particularly stressful to who B is as a parent, in a potentially long-term way, is not wise.

But the really interesting topic that emerged from our conversation was about adoption.  I brought it up as a pro for taking the twins: I would like to be open to the idea of taking sibling placements because I can see how adopting siblings could be a good fit for our family.  We don't know the twins would be available for adoption, but there's always that possibility.

B stopped everything and said, "Oh, you really want to adopt?"  Cue record-scratch sound.

Going into fostering, we said that we might adopt through foster care, but we might not.  B reminded me how we wanted to fulfill a need for foster parents.  He took that to mean that we would foster long-term, even if it meant turning down adoptive placements.  How did I change to hoping for adoption, hoping our stay in foster care wouldn't be that long?  I think a big part of it came from the online communities I've been a part of over the past year.  While I'm grateful for all I have learned from forums, blogs, and Facebook groups, with a few exceptions, these are people hoping to adopt.  The word adoption is everywhere  Many people hope for an easy case: abandonment, no parental visits, parental rights terminated quickly.  No one wants the multi-year mess of being in limbo.

Don't get me wrong, adoption is a good thing.  Permanency in safe homes is a good thing, and being in limbo is not good for kids.  I also haven't been through the struggles of infertility that many of these foster parents have lived through.  Please understand that I am speaking only of our story, and in our story, we felt called to be shaken up from the comfort of family life we might have pictured for ourselves, and the family life of our friends and family.

So, for our story, it leaves us with very difficult decisions in the future.  We agree that we do not see ourselves as having a large adoptive family.  B imagines 3 kids total, I imagine 4.  So, how are we to be the foster parents God has called us to be?  What if we have a foster child that is available for adoption?  We would want to prevent an experience of loss by continuing to be that child's family.  However, as our home quickly fills up, that would also shorten our "career" as foster parents.  We are needed, and as we gain more experience as foster parents, I think we would become even more needed.  The system needs foster parents who stick with it for more than a few years, who know enough to effect change and mentor birth families and other foster parents.  And as we foster very young children, there are many people who would make very good adoptive homes for them.  Could we say no to adoption to help make a difference for more kids?  Or will it be too difficult to say no to adoption, knowing the heartbreak one child will endure in being uprooted, a child we know and love?

We don't have a child available for adoption in our laps now, so we will cross this bridge when we come to it.  Yet, this conversation was very important for us to have now, as I hadn't realized how set I had already become on the first option, that clearly God would bring us a child or two that we would adopt and then we would retire from fostering.  It's the story I've read in 20 blogs, so clearly it should be our story, right?  Maybe not.

In the meantime, if anyone has some good resources for foster parents who are less focused on adoption or who "strictly foster," please send them my way!


  1. My family got into foster care just to do foster care. We never dreamed of adopting, but we were asked to be pre-adoptive for both little boys we've cared for and it was difficult to say no, especially because it really looked like Primo would go home and after he'd been with us over 2 years I didn't have it in me to hurt him again and send him to strangers. Our first little guy went on to a kinship placement and it looks like Primo will stay with us via adoption. As for resources they do seem mostly focused on adoption. Our agency has already asked us if we will adopt again, there are so many children who need permanency. When our family began foster care I thought we would have many children over the past 3 years, but we've only had two and one is staying.

  2. Mitzy, my bookmarks for foster blogs from when we were first getting licensed has yours marked as "few placements." Interesting how things don't turn out how you might expect; I had it in my mind we wouldn't get newborns. I also can't imagine having a child that long and feeling good about moving him to an adoptive placement. God would have to make it clear to me that it was the right thing to do.

  3. A few days ago I wondered if Beetle was in your life for that short time to "hold your crib" until the twins were born. But it sounds like the reason the twins came across your radar was so that you and B could have this discussion. I'm so glad that you and B will move forward together as a stronger team.
    " Could we say no to adoption to help make a difference for more kids? Or will it be too difficult to say no to adoption, knowing the heartbreak one child will endure in being uprooted, a child we know and love?" You'll take it one kid at a time. This is one of the biggest things I have against foster-adopt programs: Just because you have a family willing to adopt, and a child who has lived with them and needs an adoptive family, it doesn't mean you have the right match. I think there's a lot of foster families who feel pressured into adopting the child because they don't want to hurt the child with a move- when really, the move may be what is best for them. On the other hand, you may have a child and you may be the best fit for them- and then you'll need to pray that God makes it clear to you that you are to be "Forever".
    As you know, we are foster-only. That being said, if Baby 1 came back into care we'd take her back (as we've already done in the past), knowing it almost certainly be for "forever". It's SO hard to find resources, I agree!

  4. I think you're spot on, Karen. I don't want to downplay the loss involved when a child moves, but I agree it shouldn't be assumed that a long-term foster placement is the best adoptive placement. I don't know firsthand about pressure from an agency, but I imagine there would be a lot of social pressure for us, especially as we're young and our family isn't that big. I've heard older foster parents have an opposite pressure, people resisting that parents who should be enjoying their near-retirement years would would take on adoption. I'm always happy to read about how involved you are with your parents' fostering journey.