Okay. I admit it. I was a little scared of “foster to adopt” at first. There, I said it!
I was worried that we would get kids I could not handle. I was afraid that it would disrupt our family too much. I was afraid that we would fall in love and then the kids would be moved. My biggest fear, though, was working with Child Protective Services (CPS). I am not a huge fan of bureaucracy, but here I was, getting into partnership with a huge state agency about which I’d heard little that was redeeming.
I am happy to report that none of these fears were realized. First of all, let’s talk about CPS. Without exception, everyone I have met or worked with in CPS has been a friendly professional with a genuine and obvious love of children. They truly do want the best for the children they encounter, whether the “best,” is reunion with their family of origin or an adoptive home. I know there are inept and uncaring workers out there, but I do believe they are the exception. Of course, they have their flaws but I do not think anyone goes to work for CPS just because they need a paycheck; their hearts are in it.
The “falling in love” factor is a risk, but a calculated one. I’ve talked about guarding your heart before.
I do know families who have had children with such severe issues they could not continue working with them. Again, however, they are the exception. The children who come to us have been parented by someone else. That means there is going to be an adjustment period for all of us as they adjust to how things are at our house and we adjust to how the kids respond to our parenting. There is, of necessity, a period of shifting expectations. Eventually, it will all smooth out. I found it easier with the “Littles” because we knew they were (hopefully) here to stay.
It is disruptive to the family when a new child or children come in, but I think the disruption is a helpful one. Seeing our family through a new child’s eyes helps us pare back to the basics. We start to focus on what truly matters– loving the child, having a safe environment, meeting everyone needs– and the stuff on the periphery just fades away.
Not every foster to adopt story ends in adoption. Juries and courts are unpredictable. But making room in your home and your heart to love these children and make a forever imprint on their heart means regardless of the outcome, every story does have a happy ending.