My family was created through foster care adoption. When I married my husband, that is the last thing that I thought would happen. But now it feels like the most obvious outcome; like it was always supposed to happen. And I can’t begin to imagine life without my kids. Our adoption journey started when we didn’t get
pregnant like we expected. It was very painful at the time but if you believe things happen for a reason, like I do, then the reason is obvious. We were meant to be parents to our four children.
The whole process took almost a year. We started the classes in June of 2007, got approved in August of 2007, got matched in January of 2008, brought our boys home in February of 2008, and finalized in May of 2008. Looking at the time-line now, it all seems super fast. But, it did not feel that way then.
We were in the dark a lot through the process and spent a lot of time and self-advocating. It had its frustrating moments but it ended happy. We learned some things along the way and I thought I would share them with you.
1. Did you know that there are about 104,000 kids in foster care who are currently available for adoption?
These are the kids whose biological parents’ rights have already been terminated. They officially need a family. So, if you are worried that you will bond with a child who will then be returned to their biological family, that is not going to happen. Yes, in general, a major goal is biological reunification. But for these kids, the parental rights have already been terminated. These kids are simply living a foster care life until if and when someone decides to adopt them or until they age out of the system.
2. You don’t have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to adopt.
Not counting the toys that we rushed out to buy for our early visits with the boys, I think that all we spent was $55 for a background check. The home study was free, the court costs were free, the lawyer was free, whatever other random expenses that I can’t think of right now were free.
See, that’s the thing with adoption from foster care, it’s non-profit. They are not looking to make money. They are trying to get these kids out of the system and into homes. I mean, if you want to be practical about it, it probably costs the states less to cover the court costs, etc, than to continue to completely financially support a child. So, yes, you should have a large enough income to care for a child. But, no, you don’t have to hand over that arm and leg to be given the opportunity to do so.
3. If you have heard that it’s hard to get a baby through foster care, you have heard right.
If you are determined to start with a baby, then you might consider fostering first and waiting to see if the parental rights are terminated. That is an option. But you will find yourself risking having to say good-bye if the biological parents work the case plan and get their lives together which is a good thing, of course. If you are a stronger person than I am and can handle the potential loss to get the eventual gain, then it could work out. After all, babies need loving homes, too.
4. Free College
Let me say that again, free college! Kids from foster care are eligible for free college tuition in many states. This is definitely true in Florida, but other states have programs, as well. We found this out after the boys were already with us and, man, was it awesome news. Knowing that their college is covered is a major relief. Now we can focus on making sure that they go.
5. In many cases, you will even get some financial help
I don’t know if other people know this, but we sure didn’t. Many kids come with monthly assistance/subsidy until the age of 18, especially sibling groups and kids with special needs (this includes disabilities and those that have a harder time getting adopted, i.e. minorities). This saved us, particularly when it was clear that I couldn’t keep up with my job and my parenting duties. When our daughter entered the picture, I ended up staying home with the kids and we were able to stay afloat.
6. Adoption Tax Credit
This is another little benefit that we learned about as we were signing some of our final paperwork. In Florida, for five years per eligible child, you get a tax credit. Several other states offer a tax credit, as well.
7. One that is close to my heart. Race.
Statistically, there are more African American children in the foster care system. I don’t know the number and I don’t know exactly why. We can talk about socio-economic levels, educational levels, etc. But, the point is that minorities, especially African Americans are not the minority in the foster care system. But, all the time, there are more and more transracial families being created through adoption.
Some people think that it’s a big deal, some think it’s not, and some don’t know what to think. But, if you consider adopting from foster care, you have to consider whether you are ok with adopting outside of your race if you are, in fact, white.
For us, we knew that we didn’t care. But, we did worry about whether others would care. And, one of the first things that we worried about was hair care. We went right to the practical issues. But, when we got the call from the case worker, asking if we would like to be considered for our boys and she stated that they were African
American; we knew one thing for sure. We didn’t care. Not a bit. Yes, there will be issues involved and it does add another layer of “stuff” to deal with. But, there is stuff to deal with no matter what your parenting situation.
We have had awkward and complicated conversations about race. We have worried about them and obsessed about whether we are exposing them to enough of their culture. I don’t know whether we have or not. I just know that when you’re home, doing your thing, it won’t matter. When you are watching a movie, playing a board game, or yelling at them to brush their teeth; the color of their skin won’t be a blip on the radar. Believe me, it won’t.
The More You Know
When we went through the process, we had no idea what we were doing. We just knew we wanted to be parents and were willing to jump through all the hoops to make it happen. There is no doubt that going through the process was emotionally exhausting but I have no doubt that going through the pregnancy and labor process
is pretty dang exhausting, too. Adopting from foster care was was absolutely the best decision that we ever made. Ever. It brought these kids into our lives. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This wonderful guest posts about foster care adoption was written by Emily from the6parkers.com. If this post resonated with you and you want to read more about her journey with foster care adoption and more, feel free to visit the blog. I really enjoy it and I’m sure you will too!
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