November is National Adoption Month and as an adoptive parent, it’s a great time to acknowledge the beauty and sweetness of adoption. But as someone who is also a foster parent, I can’t help but think about all the kids who aren’t adoptable and never will be. They need love and stability too, even if their stories are more complicated. Happy endings sometimes don’t look like we imagine.
When you are caring for a foster child it is common to have people ask about your longterm plans. You will often have people ask, “Are you going to adopt this child?” The problem is that you can’t make longterm plans about this child’s permanency. Judges make plans, lawyers make plans, caseworkers make plans, biological parents make plans, but foster parents just follow the plan. When someone asks if you are going to adopt your foster child, it can be a tough question to answer. . . and some days it can even be a tough question to hear.
It may be tough to hear because you know this child’s parents are truly doing the hard work of trying to get custody back. To imagine adopting this child means imagining that these parents are going to fail, which would be desperately sad for everyone involved. As much as it hurts to think about having this child leave your home, you know that’s best for them and for their family.
It may also be tough to hear that question because you see the progression of this case and it looks like reunification may happen even though it isn’t a good environment for the child to return to. Or maybe there’s a chance this child will be moved to a home with relatives if a longterm placement is needed. It is painful to have to explain that while you would like to adopt this child and you do think it would be better for him, that isn’t going to happen.
Many times it is a hard question to answer because the details are painful and private. Yes, you are going to adopt him, but only because the parents you loved and supported are no longer pursuing reunification. Maybe they are back in jail or homeless or involved in substance abuse or they’ve just disappeared. Whatever it is, it is sad for this child and to admit that you do plan to adopt him is to also admit that his parents aren’t going to come through.
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Maralee is a mother of six pretty incredible kids ages seven and under. Four of my kids were adopted (one internationally from Liberia, three through foster care) and two of our sons we made ourselves. Prior to becoming parents my husband and I were houseparents at a children’s home and had the privilege of helping to raise17 boys during our five year tenure. I’m crazy passionate about caring for kids, foster parenting and adoption, making my husband a fairly decent dinner every night, staying on top of the laundry, watching ridiculous documentaries, and doing everything I do for God’s glory.
Read more from Maralee at www.amusingmaralee.com.