Our oldest daughters were adopted through conventional means back in the 90′s when quite a few newborns were still placed through agencies. In truth, because there were so many babies available in those days, we didn’t really think too much about adding to our family through the foster program. We had a lot of misconceptions about foster care and the children who were in the system, and because there was no necessity to challenge those beliefs, we simply didn’t.
A couple of years ago, so friends of ours decided to adopt through foster-adopt in our home state of Texas. In becoming involved with their placements, my own calling to be an advocate for children was rekindled, and within a year, we had our own license. It seemed a little wild and crazy at first, but as we began to accept placements, our eyes were opened. None of our fears or biases about kids in “the system” were proven out. Instead, what we’ve learned is that kids who have lost everything (their original family), long to be loved, and come to us looking for that love. It’s really that simple.
I worried about whether I could truly “fall in love” with a child that did not come to me as an infant. The answer is yes, unequivocally. In fact, in some ways, it is easier. The attachment process is different with a non-infant, for sure, but it is surprisingly uncomplicated. Our 4-year-old has struggled some with attachment– we were his sixth move– but knowing all he has been through in his young life brought out the “mother bear” in me. Fighting to get this child the services he needs to thrive (as opposed to just getting along) helped me attach to him, and I think him seeing me working to help him has helped him attach to me.
For us, choosing foster adoption was stepping bravely into a new world. It is only in hindsight that we can see the advantages. The day that our sibling group’s bio mom relinquished her kids ranks among the most notable days of my life. Having the opportunity through foster care to fall in love with them before they were free to adopt made the day we adopted them a huge celebration. It turns out that with children, loving them is the easiest path; everything else is just logistics.