Within the foster care community there is a lot of controversy about the idea of “foster to adopt”. There’s one side that believes that no one should get into foster care with the hopes to adopt the children that come into their home. The opposing side believes that people should hold onto hope when it comes to adopting their foster children. There are a few things to consider when you’re going to become a foster parent, especially with the intentions of adoption.
For Josh and I, we started this journey with an open mind. We both agree that someday we would love for Estelle to have a sibling. However, it is not in the plan to provide her with a biological one. We also aren’t in any rush to provide her with a permanent sibling right now. So basically, we are going with the flow of things. If we come across the opportunity to adopt, we will but for now we wait.
The basic idea of foster care is for the children and their parents to be reunited. Foster parents are responsible for caring for the children’s needs and help them grow from their experiences, all with the intentions that they return to their parents. In the chance that the children cannot be reunited with their parents, it is a great loss for them. It’s not something that should be taken lightly or seen as a “good” thing for hopeful adoptive parents. Everyone goes into foster care for different reasons, but I feel as those who go into with with the only intentions of adoption should be cautious with their feelings.
I’ve read a few stories about couples who had trouble getting pregnant, experiencing many miscarriages among other difficulties and then became foster parents with the hope of “only foster to adopt”. I do not know the statistics of how many people actually become foster parents for this reason, but regardless it’s a decision that holds a lot of risk. Nothing is for certain in a child’s permanency plan, there are plenty of events that can disrupt it. I’ve read stories of foster parents who were told they were going to be able to adopt and then being unable to because another family member stepped in, among other reasons. If you are going through the process simply with the intention of adopting an infant that may come into your care, it is a disservice to yourself and I would suggest you pursue the traditional adoption route. Is there a possibility that you may be given the option to adopt? Yes. Is this always going to be a possibility? No.
It may sound as if I am against people becoming foster parents to adopt a child and that would be hypocritical of me. Josh and I would love to adopt a child someday of course, but we already have a biological child. We have never experienced the loss of a child (and I hope we never do). In our training to become foster parents we spent a good chunk of time learning about loss and while this focuses mainly on what the children have lost throughout the course of their lives, a small part of it asks what the foster parent loses. Each child that comes into your home, you love as your own. You care for them, you help them heal, but you also need to prepare for the day that they return home. Each child that leaves your home is considered a loss, which is bittersweet of course, but for couples who have experienced loss in their own childbearing journey they need to realize that they will most likely experience loss in their foster parent experiences as well.
The most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to read as much as possible. I cannot stress how crucial it is to be informed before you embark on the journey of becoming a foster parent. Other families personal experiences with foster care can really give you some insight: blogs, Facebook groups, books, anything that you can possibly have access to will prove helpful.
I would love to know other’s opinions on this. What do you think about foster to adopt?