Is Regular Adoption More Difficult Than Foster Adoption?

Adoption is a roller coaster in and of itself.

Karla King September 25, 2018
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No matter how you go about building your family through adoption, there will be peaks and valleys. Amongst those that have been there, adoption is often called a roller coaster, and I would agree that it’s a very accurate description.

Adopting via domestic infant adoption was challenging for many reasons. One of those reasons is due to the fact that fewer women are placing their children for adoption. There are many reasons for that statistic. Domestic adoption can also be cost prohibitive to many families. It’s not easy to raise funds, and some families don’t feel comfortable asking their family and friends for help, nor do they have a few extra thousands lying around.

Depending on the area you live in, it can be hard to find an adoption agency that provides services for domestic adoptions. Getting an agency to travel long distances to provide these services is possible, but it can also add costs to the adoption process.

Being chosen by a birth mother/family to adopt a child is a special relationship: a bond that grows quickly and naturally. At least it did for us anyway. It creates a level of comfort and trust for all sides of the adoption triad.

The downside of domestic adoption is the waiting period, and the right for a biological parent to change his or her mind. While I understand completely why this is part of the process, it can be excruciating to bring home a child, name him, and have to return him to a biological parent. In our case, we didn’t bring our son home, but we had named him; we had prepared his room, bought him clothes, books, toys, and put out legal fees in our state, and theirs. Only to find out via social media that she had changed her mind and decided to parent him. At the time it was extremely hurtful, but with time, healing, and perspective, I’m able to see how hard all of it must have been for her, and I’m happy she’s able to raise her son.

Foster care adoption can be an answer to many families dreams of becoming parents. For me, I found that I had far less control in the process of choosing a child/children. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, but as a born planner, and someone searching for some control in the craziness, it certainly stretched me on a very personal level. There are so many positives to adopting from foster care that I feel guilty in pointing out the negatives. But they are real, they are world-changing for all involved, and they can be extremely difficult to navigate.

We set out to adopt an infant or sibling set with an infant from foster care. We ended up (by choice) adopting two 2-year-olds. They came home 367 days apart, and I vehemently said no to each of them. I was terrified. TERRIFIED. That fear ended up causing me time in the attachment process, but we are getting there. It’s good to be aware, to be concerned; however, it’s also important to understand that each child is different. And it takes time. So much time to form that bond. RAD (reactive attachment disorder) is very real, but not every child has attachment issues that are long-lasting or major.

My daughter was home for about 3-4 months before she went back to her biological mother for a trial home visit. In hindsight, her biological mom was trying hard. It was heartbreaking to watch my little one leave. We had bonded well and naturally in comparison to our son. When she returned 31 days later, she was sullen, reserved, and could barely look at me let alone bond with me. We will never know what happened when she was there, but with our history with her biological mom, I have a pretty good idea. Our daughter has now been home for nearly a year, and on the good days, we are bonding well. Other days are a struggle. It’s hard to watch her come in and out, and most of that is the PTSD. It’s hard to correct them, parent them on days when they are easily triggered. The nervousness, the dilated pupils, the fear, it’s real. I didn’t put it there, and yes, there are days I get frustrated and don’t make the best choices, but we are taking huge steps forward. I have had to change how I parent them, how I parent. Period. They are worth every moment. Every minute. Every struggle. Every judgment.

Adoption is complicated. What is right for one family may not be right for yours. You must research, read, and talk to people who have been through it. I had a lot of “nevers” before we adopted. It’s not so black and white. There are a lot of gray areas that make life easier, and harder. Find the best route for you. Don’t be afraid to find those on the same path. There is beauty through ashes.

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Karla King

Karla King is a passionate open adoption advocate, adoptive mom, foster mom, wife, reader, avid creator of food, stay-at-home mom, and Christian. She loves taking care of her family, supporting others on the adoption journey, and watching the world through her children’s eyes.


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