“I would never want to subject my family to that.” This statement is often heard when the discussion of foster parenting or adoption comes up. In truth, there are a lot of difficulties that come with the territory of foster care and adoption. There are some bad stories swirling around out there; children being removed after years of living with a foster family, biological parents expressing bitterness and hatred towards foster parents, children who struggle with serious emotional and behavioral issues and decisions being made that break someone’s heart. Yes. These situations are a part of the system, but not all.
There is a tremendous amount of goodness that comes with foster parenting and adoption. Here are a few reasons why you should not let the bad outweigh the good:
1) If you have a heart for children and want to help put families back together, why wouldn’t you consider foster parenting? Children need to know there are a lot of caring adults in the world. They also need to know that there are people rooting for their biological parents and helping in the process of family restoration.
2) You can play a vital role in the decision-making process. Although, you will not have the final say in what happens regarding foster care or adoption, your input is valuable. Your advocacy and care for the children in your home is important to the process. Don’t forget that.
3) Foster parenting and adoption teaches you about yourself. Throughout your journey, there will be moments when you realize that perhaps you are not as patient as you thought or maybe you are way more flexible than you once believed. Foster parenting and adoption stretches and grows you!
4) You will learn the importance of thinking outside of the box. This is so important! What works for one child may not work for another. The process of building a family through adoption or being an active foster parent forces you to consider what the true meaning of family, safety, and love is. It is quite humbling.
5) You will witness the powerful process of lives changing. There is something truly inspiring when you see lives changing for the better. You will see this in children who start to heal from their trauma. You will witness this when you see biological parents obtain goals, go through recovery and become safer, better parents. It really is a powerful thing to witness.
6) Adoption can change generations. Sure, you might just foster or adopt one child, but in many ways, the changes made for the betterment of that one child does affect generations. This is why foster parenting and adoption can help to break the cycle of abuse and neglect for future generations.
7) Just because something is hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. This is much easier said than done, of course. Most foster parents will tell you that fostering is not easy and the system can be frustrating, but the kids are always worth it. Foster and adoptive parents are not perfect nor are they superheroes. They come from all walks of life and share in the common goal of seeing children safe, loved, and wanted.
8) Each child is unique and needs to know that he or she has purpose. This cannot be stressed enough! Every single child in this world should feel valued, loved and purposeful. Foster parenting and adoption is a direct way to help a child see his or her worth.
9) You will experience a love that goes beyond bloodlines. Ask most foster and adoptive parents about this and they will respond with a fervent, “Yes!” The notion that one could not love a child not born to them is a bit ridiculous. Love doesn’t have boundaries. The love that you feel for a child (regardless of how that child comes to you) is just as “real” as can be.
Foster parenting and adoption are both extremely unique life experiences. Within them are layers of loss, grief, and joy. Friends, don’t let the bad stories keep you from adopting a child or being a foster parent. If you believe that children are our future, perhaps it is time to for you to step up and help. After all, the children need you.