You’ve finalized your adoption… congrats! Now your social worker is getting nervous and wondering whether you will keep fostering. Maybe you’re wondering yourself. I can’t answer the question for you, but I can share my experience and give a few suggestions. My daughter was 5 when we finalized her adoption. After that, we put our foster home “on hold” for a year—technically we were still licensed, but we were not supposed to get calls about placements. This was actually suggested by our agency, and I think it’s a good idea. That year gave us time to bond and learn and function as a family without the uncertainty that comes along with foster care. It gave us time to start building together forever. After that year was up, I honestly wanted to be done with foster care. But I knew I wasn’t. So I completed all of the requirements and accepted a respite placement and then the placement that (after almost three years of uncertainty) would become my son. We finalized my son’s adoption in October, and I knew I was done. I had literally converted my dining room into a bedroom to make space for everyone and there was no more room in my home. But actual square footage aside, my heart just knew. I always tell people that when the time and situation are right for them to start the foster care or adoption journey, they will “just know.” I think the same is true of ending it. Trust your intuition. And ask yourself these questions:
Do you have room?
Do you have space in your home for another placement? Do you have space in your car for another booster seat (this was a very real consideration for me!)? Do you have space in your schedule to manage the logistics of family visits, social worker visits, CASA visits, and court hearings? Do you have space in your mind and heart to help your children deal with the uncertainty that continuing to foster will bring?
What is best for your family?
This is hard. Foster parents have big hearts. We want to help kids, that’s why we got licensed in the first place. But here’s the reality: not every placement is supposed to be your placement. It is crucially important that you take care of yourself and the other members of your family. Sometimes that means saying no. But sometimes it means saying yes. I was honestly worried about how continuing to foster might affect my daughter. I wondered if it would trigger insecurities about her own place in our family. In reality, it felt incredibly redemptive. She already knew that the world can be a hard, scary place for children. And now she was part of helping to make that better for the children placed in our home. Though continuing to foster could certainly trigger difficult feelings in children who were adopted from foster care (and it’s probably wise to keep a therapist on standby!), that doesn’t always mean that you should stop. Deciding whether to continue fostering after you’ve adopted from foster care is a highly personal decision. But these two questions and trusting my own intuition helped me make the right decisions for our family.