Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Guest Post: Myths and Facts about Foster Care Adoption

I thought it would be appropriate for National Foster Care Month to share a guest post courtesy of Children First FFA, a private, non-profit foster agency based in California, about Myths and Facts about Foster Care Adoption:

Myths and Facts about Foster Care Adoption

Over 100,000 children in the United States are waiting to be adopted. Unfortunately, too many of them—over 22,000 of them—age out of the system when they turn 18. This leaves them vulnerable to all kinds of difficult situations and large percentages of them become homeless, incarcerated, or early parents. There are a number of myths that have persisted and that have prevented potential adoptive parents to consider foster care adoption. Here are a few of them.

Myth: Every foster child has mental, physical, or emotional issues.

While foster children have usually experienced neglect, abuse, or abandonment that was significant enough for the state to take them away from their birth families, it doesn’t mean that they are beyond help. Children are surprisingly resilient. Given a stable environment, along with the nurture and support of a loving family, they can grow into a stable, healthy adult. Yes, there may be challenges, but every child is capable of healing from past wounds.

Myth: I only qualify if I am married, well-to-do, young, and own my own home.

People of all types of socioeconomic statuses, ages, and races can and have adopted children. Single parents make up one-third of adoptive parents. People in their 50s and 60s, such as Stan and Gloria, are adopting children at increasing rates. And, while it may be ideal to own your own home, it’s not necessarily required—you only need to prove that you have the adequate means to provide for a child.

Myth: I can’t afford to adopt.

Private adoptions may be outside of your budget, but foster care adoption may cost you almost nothing. There are both state and federal subsidies for adoptions made through the foster system. These subsidies cover costs incurred during and after adoption, such as court costs, home study costs, medical benefits, and college tuition waivers.

Myth: I need to have parenting experience.

Many people adopt because they were never able to have children of their own. However, that doesn’t mean they are not able to develop the skills necessary to parent a child. If you have the right heart and the willingness to learn parenting skills, you can adopt too.

Myth: I don’t have a choice on the type of child I can adopt.

You will be able to set your preferences for the child you want to adopt. You will also be able to say yes or no to a match. Keep in mind, however, that the broader you make your parameters, the more options you will have.

Don’t let the myths scare you away. Foster care adoption is easier than you might think and it’s a rewarding experience that will change you and your adopted child for a lifetime.

1 comment:

Tammy said...

While I am happy to see these myths dispelled, I do want to add that, depending on where you live, adopting from foster care can also be harder than you think. We don't have a foster-adopt program in my state for children under age 8, and most of the children available for adoption through foster-adopt really are teens. The ONLY way to adopt a younger child from foster care where I live is to become a foster parent and wait to see if one of your foster children becomes available for adoption. We have had six children this year. Four have gone, and one will likely leave before Christmas. While we are happy that these families have been able to reunite, we have not been able to adopt or have hope of adopting through foster care yet. One child will be available for adoption, but may have a family member, DFCS has had more than a year to verify relationship, but hasn't. So, we wait....and wait...and wait...until they "get around to it." Family, whether they have met the child or not, or whether they understand the child's needs or not, always have first choice, and legally foster parents have few (if any) rights. In the meantime, this child, who I have cared for since birth, knows only my family. He has moderate cerebral palsy with feeding issues, yet the putative family wants him because the father "played ball" and they think he will too (he will be fortunate if he no longer a needs assisted walking devices by age 4). For us, it's been agonizing and heart wrenching. The children really are wonderful and loving and deserving of great foster homes,,,but adopting from foster care is much harder then I ever thought it would be.