1. More people willing to adopt/foster
The first thing I would change in the adoption world is to have more people willing to adopt or foster these children. There are so many children waiting for families whether through foster care, domestic adoption, or international adoption. I know not everyone is meant to foster or adopt, but I think more people should consider it an option for their family. I believe more people could foster/adopt but unfortunately, they do not think they can. My only regret is not starting this journey earlier. I think about how many more lives we could have impacted if we had only said “yes” years ago.
2. More support for the adoption/foster community
The adoption community needs to have more support both from each other and from their neighbors, communities, churches, schools, workplaces, etc. More people could foster/adopt if they had the proper support system. It is very easy for foster/adoptive families to feel isolated. Parenting is hard and parenting children from hard places is also hard and can be physically and emotionally exhausting.
All children in foster care or adopted have experienced trauma. Even when placed as infants they have already experienced the loss of their birth family and possible trauma during pregnancy. Foster/adoptive families need a place where they feel supported, encouraged, and understood.
We were fortunate to have met many foster families through our agency. We have found support from these families and from the monthly support groups offered by both our agency and our church. Since our adoption, we have tried to remain active in our foster care community as well. That wasn’t difficult since we received another unexpected foster care placement just two months after our adoption.
3. Lower the cost of private adoption
Another issue that needs to be changed to help these children find forever families, is to lower the cost of private adoptions both domestic and international. The cost is just too great for many families to afford and these children need families. Although we may not be able to change the cost, we can find ways to support others in their journey. Many families who are privately adopting will hold fundraisers to help offset the costs which is an opportunity for us to support them and make a difference in another child’s life.
4. More awareness of adoption through foster care
I hear people say all the time, “I would adopt, but it is just too expensive.” That is why we need to spread awareness of the differences between foster care adoption and private adoption. Many people do not realize that adoption through foster care can be free. Yes, you read that right, I said “FREE!” People say they would adopt in a heartbeat but simply can’t afford it. But you can afford it, you just don’t know you can. Everyone can afford free! When we adopted our son last year through foster care the county covered all the expenses. We chose to hire our own attorney which cost us $1000 and the county reimbursed us that entire amount.
5. More awareness of foster care and adoption in general
I think the country has become more open about adoptions where in the past it was secretive and almost taboo. We need to be open and willing to tell our stories to our families, friends, neighbors, etc. When we can be open with others then we can also inform them. Before I became a foster parent, I didn’t really know anything about foster care or adoption. It was difficult for my husband and I to make the decision to foster because we knew very little about it. There is a lot of fear in the unknown. I would like to see more families sharing their experiences so people can understand what foster/adoption is all about, know how to be a foster/adoptive parent and know how to support other foster/adoptive parents. They may never know if we do not tell them.
6. Different perception of foster/adoptive parents
I would love to change how the world tends to view foster/adoptive parents. There seems to be two common perceptions of foster parents: either they are just in it for the money and don’t really care about the children, or they are super heroes that possess some special character or quality needed to take care of these children. Both could not be farther from the truth and I believe both perceptions prevent more people from stepping forward to foster or adopt.
When people assume that foster parents are “in it for the money,” it casts a bad reputation or stigma on all foster families. I don’t even know how people can think that foster parents are getting rich. Do they not know how expensive it is to raise a child and how difficult foster care can be sometimes? But once people believe this misconception, they are less likely to become foster parents themselves and less likely to offer much needed help to other foster families.
The second misconception may not seem like an issue. Viewing foster/adoptive parents as heroes, isn’t that a good thing? The children are the ones who are the real heroes though. The parents are just ordinary people. The problem is that when people think it takes a special person to foster or adopt then they are more likely to think, “Oh, I can’t do that.” But YES, you can! We are just ordinary people who love kids. We have fears, anxiety, hurts and yes, our hearts get broken. There is nothing special about us other than we put our fears aside and took a leap of faith. You can do it too!
How can you help make changes in the adoption world? What additional changes would you like to see in the adoption world? Let us know in the comments!