Should You Raise Your Family Through Foster Adoption?
For many parents, it is difficult to decide when and how to raise a family. And when other factors come into play, such as infertility or the heightened needs of your other children, the decision can be much more difficult. Here’s a question for parents this week:
My husband and I are over 40 and are head over heels in love with our 7-year-old who is smart, adorable, cute, funny and amazingly asleep. He also has ADHD and gives us the opportunity to make money. We have ongoing therapy appointments, specialist counseling, school IEPs, and more. I work a short week to adjust to most of it.
My husband and I love babies and children. I cannot give birth to another biological child for medical reasons, and I coped with my grief about this. If we want to raise two children at roughly the same age, we need to move forward with adoption, perhaps with adoptions from foster families.
At the same time, sometimes my husband and I feel like we are coping with our especially needy child. We are often upset, exhausted, etc. He worries that it will not be fair to another child because our son is taking up so much of our attention.
My question to you is: should we choose a large family or decide to be content with what we have?
I really want to give you an answer. This is a column of advice, and you came to me with a very specific question, and I am honored to have been entrusted with something so close to your heart. But for this specific question, I simply cannot answer for the other parent. I don’t think anyone can.
To be honest, I struggled to answer for myself. I also have one biological son. I was also attracted by adoption through the foster care system (in a couple of years we had several techniques, none of which led to adoption). I, too, ended up unable to have a second biological child – or didn’t want to keep trying after a couple of losses.
I will say that now one child is enough for me. But it didn’t work out naturally or quickly to be satisfied with it. I really had to work on it. I really wanted more kids. I really wanted my son to have brothers and sisters. And I am happy with my family of three. All of this may be true, at least for me.
Part of what may be holding you back in terms of adopting a foster family may not be known. You had a child; you have a good idea of what this entails, even if the experience will vary from child to child. But raising a child in a foster home, as I’m sure you can imagine, is a completely different experience.
You mentioned that your son regularly undergoes therapy and visits a specialist, and that he needs a lot of attention and emotional energy. With children raised in foster care, I would say the same is likely to be true for any child that is placed in your home. It is no exaggeration to say that each of these children experienced some kind of trauma, whether it was abuse, neglect, the trauma of being separated from their biological family, and / or being displaced from several different foster families. They may also have regular visits to their biological parents or siblings, visits to a therapist, home visits from a social worker, and court visits.
I’m not saying this to discourage you: foster adoption is a wonderful thing. But the key to success here is having all the information and realistic expectations. This is why my best advice to you as you work to make this decision is to go on a local fact-finding mission.
Contact your state Department of Human Services for information on foster qualifications and a list of approved public and private foster and foster agencies in your area. Meet with directors of several agencies, ask if you can attend several trainings or if they can put you in touch with other foster and foster families with whom they have worked so that you can learn more about the process and get a more accurate picture of what this could be. an experience for you and your family. (If you do decide to move forward, this will also help you find the agency that’s right for you.) AdoptUSKids also has a lot of useful information about foster families.
You don’t mention private home adoption in your letter, but it may or may not be an option for you. In any case, I think that you and your husband are now lacking a clearer idea of what the process looks like and whether you have the time, resources and support to get an adoption.
I wish you all the best as one “mother of one” to another.
Do you have a parental dilemma? Send your questions to email@example.com with “Parental Advisory” in the subject line, and I’ll try to answer them here.