why I’m not adopting from foster care right now
Okay, I’ll be honest: My co-workers don’t know I’m adopting. I was scared to tell them early on, because I wanted to keep at least one group of people unknowing, so if it all fell through, I would have a least one group I wouldn’t have to share my pain and disappointment with.
Another reason: I work in foster care adoptions. What I’ve observed is that people who work in each sect of adoptions — foster care, domestic, international — are super pro-their kind of adoptions. A couple months after I’d quietly started the international adoption process, comments were thrown around at work about how it’s such an expensive waste of money and how silly it is to “save God’s orphans.” Ouch, right? Ouch to internationally-adopting me. Ouch to Christian, orphan-loving me. (And note: I do not believe we’re “saving” Theo and Elliot. And no one should adopt because they believe they’re “saving” a child. That’s just not good.)
I know I’m missing out on an awesome opportunity to share my excitement over this growing family of mine. I’m praying + waiting for a time to tell them. I’m preparing words to speak that will hopefully communicate a need for adoptive families of all kinds.
I really like my job. I’m passionate about adoptions from foster care. I can tell you a million reasons you should adopt from foster care at some point in your life. And I would love to adopt from foster care someday.
Adopting from foster care was not for us right now, though. And before I share why it wasn’t right for us, let me say this: I’ll blog soon about why you should adopt from foster care. It’s a good option for so many people!
The process of getting licensed, then fostering and adopting
In my experience, adopting from foster care requires families to become licensed foster parents through nine weeks of classes and then an additional three more weeks of adoption-specific classes.
After that, there are two routes: Foster to adopt, and waiting children. If we were to foster to adopt, we’d be waiting for a placement an unknown amount of time. Once we had a placement, we would be waiting six months to meet the state of Missouri’s requirement for children living with pre-adoptive families. If a child’s parents’ right have not yet been terminated, there’s still a chance they will be reunited with family members.
Though it has a lot of risk, it’s super doable for families with stability and consistency and the certainty of living in the same place for a while, but that’s not us. We’ve known all along that Dan’s schedule is constantly changing (making long-term foster parenting training hard) and that we would likely be moving this summer. Fostering to adopt was crossed off for us based mostly on the amount of time it would take with uncertain results in the end.
There are more than 100,000 waiting children in the U.S. foster care system right now. That’s more than three times the number of people in my hometown. No doubt, there’s a need. For a child to become listed on a waiting child list, such as Adopt US Kids, many things need to happen… or not happen… before then. A team of people have not been able to find a permanent solution for this child up until this point. Many have higher needs. We have humbly admitted to ourselves that, at this time, we do not have the experience, skills, and wisdom to be able to care for kids with many of the medical, behavioral, and psychological needs many waiting children have. I hope this isn’t true some day, but right now, it is.
Life in orphanages or on the streets
Unlike foster kids, orphaned and abandoned children in other countries (without their own foster care systems), end up in orphanages and later, on the streets. My experience in orphanages is one I won’t quite ever be able to shake. Because of my experience in orphanages, I want badly to see countries build up foster care systems and continue to allow children to be adopted into loving families.
In Jamaica, the physically and mentally disabled kids were kept inside while the others were allowed out to play with us. The ones we played with showed signs of malnutrition and significant developmental delays. They clung to our legs, as if they hadn’t felt someone touch them in several days. Orphanages just don’t come near the sense of family and amount of attention a foster family can provide. In many orphanages, the evidence of inadequate food, inadequate medical care, and inadequate education show up right away.
The country from which we are adopting has been called the rape capital of the world. Rape and violence are a culture there, if I’m honest. Young boys join up as child soldiers, desperate for a sense of belonging and purpose. Even if our sons and other children were to live a sufficient life in an orphanage, there comes a time when they become too old and would be asked to leave. Waiting for them: violence, fighting, begging, poverty, fear, and possibly death. The outcomes for youth who age out of foster care aren’t great, but the outcomes for youth who age out of orphanages frighten me even more.
A passion + a vision
One of the biggest reasons we chose international adoption is the hardest to explain. I hope, though, to some degree, anyone who has been reading my blog has come to understand it. International adoption was what I was introduced to first. Most of our adoptive network of friends and family have adopted internationally. I believe God put international adoption before me as a college student. And I believe He put it before me again as a wife. I can only see the beginning of His plans for me. Right now at least, it seems He’s given me a vision for a family built first through international adoption.
I read about it, I talk about it, I dream about it, and I pray about it more than any other passion. It’s been pressed into my heart in the biggest way. Bigger than domestic adoption. Bigger than adoption from foster care. I’m thankful for it. And I’ll happily continue to choose to advocate for all forms of orphan care while praying about the ways I personally will choose to grow my little family.