5 Big Mistakes People Make When Adopting from Foster Care

As an adoption social worker, I want to see adoptive families succeed.

Derek Williams August 01, 2018
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Adopting from foster care is one of the greatest things a person could do. However, the fact is that not all foster adoption stories end up happily ever after, like in fairy tales. Disruptions, false allegations, disappointment, and dissolution are sometimes a reality for those who have adopted a child from foster care. So how can you prevent the mistakes made by those who have come before you? Here are 5 mistakes people make when adopting from foster care.

1. Lack of training

The first mistake people make is a lack of adequate training. Just because you are a successful parent or grandparent doesn’t automatically mean you will be a successful foster parent. Get training. Know what to expect. In today’s Internet age, you can obtain training online. You can complete training in the comfort of your own home and work around your own schedule.

2. Lack of understanding of trauma

Next, realize that foster care adoption is not glorified babysitting! Adopted kids that come out of the foster care system have all gone through some type of trauma such as abuse, neglect, or abandonment to name a few. Be prepared to meet their needs. Learn what special needs your child has and educate yourself. Meet the child where he or she is.

3. Lack of information

Be informed on your child’s history. What was the original reason for CPS custody? What is the family’s medical history? Who were the important people in the child’s past? What is the child’s culture/ethnicity? Information is power! You will better be able to care for your child if you know what he needs.

4. Unrealistic expectations

Let’s face it: your adopted child may not be the next LeBron James or Serena Williams or Albert Einstein. She may not even be first in her class. Your adopted child may not meet your expectations in any way shape or form. And comparison of your adopted child to your biological child is not advisable. But the worst thing you can do is let that disappointment fuel you to be unloving. A foster child’s behaviors, special needs, and development comes with the territory. I wouldn’t say to lower your expectations but rather readjust your expectations. Meet the child’s needs rather than seeking for your needs to be met. Adults are supposed to meet the needs of children, not the other way around. Learn what their strengths are and seek for the positives in every situation.

5. Lack of mentoring

Lastly, seek out other foster adoption parents who have been down the same road you have been. Glean from their knowledge; learn from their experience; listen to their wisdom. Of course, no two cases are exactly the same. But you can learn from others. Do so.

As an adoption social worker, I want to see adoptive families succeed. It is disappointing to see adoptive families struggle. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

If you feel you are ready to adopt a child from foster care, please visit Adoption.com’s photolisting site for children who are available for adoption. 

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Derek Williams

Derek Williams is an adoption social worker and has been in the field of child welfare and behavioral health since 2006, where he has assisted families in their adoption journeys. He and his wife started their own adoption journey in 1993 and have 8 children, 6 of whom are adopted. His adopted children are all different ethnicities, including East Indian, Jamaican, and Native American. He loves traveling with his family and is an avid NY Mets fan! Foster care and adoption is a passion and calling for Derek and he is pleased to share his experiences with others who are like-minded.


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