My 3 yr old daughter took this pic of me

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Why Foster-to-Adopt? Why not an "easier" route?

Someone asked me this week why we are in the foster-to-adopt program instead of straight adoption or having more of our own children via a surrogate (I have one ovary left from the partial hysterectomy I had to have 5 years ago). I have been thinking about that a lot. Many people have asked us that question over the last few years.

Why would we do something that could cause us disappointment and loss?

Why not just go the "easier" and more guaranteed route?

Why take that risk?

I have Our family has a deep love for orphans and the fatherless and the widow. I admire people who spend upwards of $10,000 to adopt internationally and wait for years to receive their child(ren)....who adopt older children...who adopt medically fragile children, etc. That is their calling. But it is not ours, at least not for now. God has called us to this ministry. No matter which program you choose to pursue, NONE of them are easy. Or fast. They all include waiting, anxiety, unknowns, and emotional pain.

The positives of the foster-to-adopt program are....

that it protects the children in the program. If they are to be adopted, they WILL stay with us and be a part of our family forever, but if not, they will return to their birth family. The less transitions the child makes, the better. This is the best thing for the kids.

that we are supported financially while caring for these kids, as well as after we adopt them. When we went into this at the beginning, we had no idea of what that would look like financially and we didn't care. When we found out our monthly amount per child, we were almost disappointed - not because of the amount, but because we weren't in it for the money. We just wanted to help kids. But we have learned that this support makes a huge difference in our ability to meet the needs of the kids in our care and the needs of our growing family - and I appreciate that. I have the peace of mind that if my child needs therapy because of trauma or has extra medical needs, I will be able to provide that.

The training. I cannot say enough about the training. I think that every parent should have to take this training and especially people who are adopting internationally or adopting older children. If more people had the training needed, I believe that adoptions would have a higher success rate. Knowing what is causing the behaviors in my child and knowing how to properly respond in order to best meet that child's needs trumps being confused and thinking that they are just a spoiled brat and following that with actions that increase their emotional trauma.

that we can foster/adopt babies. We do babies because it is easier on our older children and on our family. We also made this decision because there is less trauma experienced by the child. Notice I said "less". It is difficult to adopt babies internationally, at least newborns, because by the time they are actually in your arms they are often well over 1 or 2 years old. Attachment can still happen with children this young, but it is not an easy thing.

Now what I do not like about the program....

there is a lot of legal risk. (means that the child may be returned to their family and not be a permanent placement). This is hard on the heart because we attach so strongly to each child. But it is usually good if the child can be returned.

Yeah......I could only come up with one negative. 

I think that we are able to help more children through foster-to-adopt than we could through any other program, and that is just my opinion. I don't think that this is what everyone should be doing, as obviously there is a great need for the other programs, too. But this is what we are called to. 

I won't pretend it is easy and that it doesn't dramatically change our family dynamics. It is hard at times and it changes everything, but our lives are so much richer for doing it. Not just my husband's and mine, but our children's, too. They are different kids now that we foster. They are empathetic, loving, world-changing kids. They see beyond the next video game or cookie they want. They see the world through new eyes. I have met so many people in the foster/adoption field who say, "Yes, my parents fostered (or adopted) and it changed my life and I love it and wouldn't have it any other way." It is hard on them, but they are stronger and better people for it. It is also a great blessing to them.

When facing the hard parts - the loss and lack of control - I sometimes think, "suck it up, princess, other people are worse off than you" and other days I truly let loose and grieve - crying, venting, hiding in my room, etc. I trust that God is in control and that His plans are above mine, but it's hard to let go and realize that it is out of my hands and I may not get the outcomes I'm begging and pleading for.

Someone said to me recently that God is weaving a beautiful tapestry and we are a part of it, but we can only see the knots and the ugliness on the back of the tapestry. One day we will be able to turn it around and see the beauty that God has created through these tough times and we will understand. I am so grateful to be a part of what God is doing in the lives of these precious children.

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