Adoption is different from foster care.
The goal of foster care is typically reunification. The hope is that parents will get the help that they need to be able to safely parent their children. Foster care is meant to be temporary (and ideally, short term).
Adoption is forever. Once a foster adoption is finalized, the child’s case is closed. Though there may be continued interaction with members of the child’s birth family, the adoptive parents have permanent legal custody.
In some states, families are licensed as both foster and adoptive resources whether they are interested in foster care, adoption, or both. But foster care and foster adoption are different things.
There is no typical case.
There are all kinds of myths surrounding adoption from foster care. The truth is that there is no typical case. Children in foster care are all different. Some are infants. Some are teenagers. Some are part of a sibling group and desperately want to be placed together. Some are not. Some have diagnosed special needs. Some do not. Some have been in foster care for a long time. Some have not. Don’t believe the made-for-TV movies. Children are different. Cases are different. There is no “typical” in foster care adoption.
It doesn’t cost a lot of money.
I’m not sure why this stubborn myth persists. Adoption from foster care can be costly, for sure. It may cost you time, effort, energy, love, passion (and sometimes blood, sweat and tears). But it will not cost you a lot of money. In many cases, all of the adoption fees are reimbursed by the state. Additionally, children adopted from foster care may be eligible to keep their state provided medical insurance until they reach the age of 18. And you may also be eligible for a monthly adoption stipend to cover the services that your child needs.
It is not for the faint of heart.
Before your adoption is finalized, your child will still be in foster care. The journey to finalization may be relatively quick and uncomplicated (don’t let anybody tell you that this never happens—it does!). Or it may be frustratingly long and convoluted. You will likely experience strong emotions as you help your child process the loss and grief that go along with adoption from foster care (even if your child is very young). You will get mad at people who ask stupid questions and say ridiculous things. You will be bogged down in paperwork. Adoption from foster care is not for everyone.
Your kid is worth it.
Even after all of the training, even after all of the books you will read and the blogs you will follow, you will not be a perfect parent. You will get frustrated, overwhelmed, and exhausted. But your child is worth it.
Attachment with your child adopted from foster care may come easily. Or it may take a lot of effort. Take the time. Make the effort. Your child is worth it.
I know a lot of folks who have adopted from foster care, and we are a ferociously loyal bunch. We love our kids with a special kind of mama-bear love that is hard-fought and fiercely guarded.
Adoption from foster care is not for everyone. But it is for some of us.
And if it’s for you, know this: it will be a wild ride, but your kid is worth it.