Now that you’ve made your decision to adopt from the foster care program, I’ll bet you have a lot of questions:
How do I get started? Where do I find an agency? Where do I get an application? How long will it take? Will I lose out on a child if things don’t go quickly? How many children are available for adoption?
Before you start the “formal process,” you need to begin the emotional process. This is the time for heavy-duty soul-searching.
- Why do I want to adopt a child?
- Can I provide a stable home for a child?
- Am I ready to open my heart to another’s needs?
- Do I perceive this child a substitute for a lost child– or a person in his or her own right?
- Am I willing to go through all the paperwork and various other requirements to have a child?
- Can I love this child as my own?
- Will my family and friends willingly accept this child?
- Is it important that my child looks like me or has the same interests as me?
- How will I deal with my child’s questions about birth parents?
- Can I accept that my child will love another mother in addition to me?
- When will I tell my child about adoption?
- Can I financially afford to take another person into my family?
- What “type” of child am I looking for?
- What are my preferences on age, race, gender, and disabilities?
- What behaviors am I willing to live with, and what behaviors are absolute “deal breakers” for me?
- Am I willing to keep contact with the birth family if that is required?
- Will my family and friends willingly accept a child of another race?
The state social workers should provide you with information regarding behaviors and disabilities that children in foster care may have. Deciding how much you’re willing to work with, and deal with, is vital to your success in adopting. If you are adopting as a couple, fill the pages out, and answer the questions listed above separately, and see where you agree and disagree. Agreeing on key points will be crucial later when you are reading a child’s profile. Parenting a special needs child can be hard on the best relationships. If you are not in agreement on what issues you can handle, or how you will handle them, you will be headed down a very rocky road.
Children who are being adopted from foster care are usually considered special needs children. For purposes of adoption, special needs children are often considered to be:
- Older children, generally over the age of two, but the age varies from state to state
- A child who is a member of a racial minority.
- Members of a sibling group of two or more children
- Children with a physical or mental disability
- Children with an emotional disturbance
- Children with a recognized high risk of physical or mental disease
- Children who possess any combination of the above factors or conditions
It is natural to think that love and stability will help or “cure” a child, but the sad fact is, that most of these children have been emotionally damaged in some way, so it’s important to examine your heart and make sure you are ready to cope with this hard reality.