Every time we have begun the adoption process, we get questions.

“Do you want a boy or girl?”

“Do you care about the race?”

“Do you want a newborn?”

“How long will it take?”

“Have you ever considered international adoption?”

“Have you thought about foster care?”

It’s the last question that can sting a little bit. No one has ever once asked me, “Have you thought about surrogacy?” But I get the foster care question a lot. And it’s frequently when that question is asked, it’s also followed up with, “because there are so many children who need homes.” My husband and I have chosen to do private adoption for each of our children. Each time we have contemplated going through the foster care system. Certainly there are many children in need of a loving home. And we could provide that. A home is needed where there is willingness to maintain some kind of relationship with birth families…visitations, etc. We don’t have a problem with the openness, so we would be fine with that as well. And if we are talking about finances, going through the foster care system is a lot more economical. And we for sure would appreciate that. So why don’t we do foster care? If you want the simple answer, it’s because it’s not right for our current family situation.

I have always felt such guilt when people ask me why not foster care? I felt like I needed to explain why we were so hard-hearted. I would always end with “But one day we may. It’s just not right for us right now.” This is true. We really may one day. But why did I feel it necessary that people know that? Quite frankly because I felt extreme guilt and wanted people to know that really, I’m not a horrible person. I felt judged.

One day I decided I was tired of feeling that way, and that just maybe, others really weren’t judging me after all. Some, of course, were and kind of told me that I should reconsider before I just assume all foster kids are messed up. (sigh) Let me explain, just because someone doesn’t chose foster care doesn’t mean that they think the kids are “messed up.” Believe me. We truly understand through experience that every kid, biological or not, comes with their own trials, personalities, and “disabilities.” Sometimes not choosing foster care isn’t about the potential problems, but about other matters. Allow me to share a personal example. We have a daughter who is rather sensitive. Though she doesn’t always show it in public, she does show it to us at home. She is greatly affected by situations and she remembers everything. We have experienced three failed adoptions. Only one of those we told her about, because we were going to all fly out in twelve hours to meet her new sister. That flight didn’t happen. So, we had to tell her. She was devastated. There are more reasons we haven’t chosen to adopt through foster care that I don’t find it necessary to share here, but she is one of those reasons why we feel like foster care isn’t right for us at this time. We want her to be able to understand a little better why a child, a potential brother or sister, may come in her life. . . and then may have to leave. She is our daughter and her needs are our priority. And I don’t feel badly about that. Your son or daughter may respond very differently. And that is something to be considered.

My husband and I have talked about foster care. We’ve talked about adopting an older child. We’ve talked about a lot of different scenarios. But we take each child one at a time. And we figure out what is best for our entire family before we proceed. I don’t feel bad about it anymore. And I don’t feel guilty anymore either. If anything, I feel gratitude for the closeness we have with our children so that we can make the right choice that will benefit our entire family. I also feel immense gratitude for those who do choose to adopt through the foster care system, because we need families to do that. I’m grateful that they have the right family situation to do so.

Creating a family is a unique process for us all. It’s personal. It needs to fit our personalities and circumstances. There’s no one way that is the correct way. Private adoption. Fost-adopt programs. Surrogacy. In-vitro. It’s ok if foster care isn’t right for you, just like it’s ok if private adoption isn’t right for you. Let us all choose what is right for our own situations and feel good about it without passing judgement on others.