I keep trying to answer this and it’s hard. But the first thing is…
In foster care, you absolutely will emotionally invest in children who will return to their families of origin. Reunification is the primary goal of foster care. You will be expected to support reunification, even if you think it is a terrible idea, even if you really really really wish you could have that child in your family forever. Even if the kid loves you and thrives in your home, even if a lot of things. The goal of foster care is reunification. In my experience, this means that the unity of the child’s family is what gets priority, even over the needs of the child, certainly over your needs and sometimes even over the needs/desires of the parents.
If you cannot find it in you to support that goal or live in that system, if you really ONLY want to possess a child of your own who stays with you forever, if you want your home to be free of social workers or therapists or other people who may need to come in and out relating to the child, then anything involving foster care would be difficult.
If you think perhaps you could support that goal, if you think you can keep your own personal boundaries even if you have to have people come in and inspect your home, transport your child, etc, just keep learning more about foster care.
As for adoption from foster care, I have not personally gone down that rod and it was never our goal. But if you ONLY want to adopt, you can say so. You can wait for legal-risk or legally free children (maybe wait a while for a younger child or take an older child). Keep in mind children in foster care may have special needs because of their medical histories, truama histories, etc. Their parents rights were severed for a reason that was likely severe and recurring. Keep in mind also when adopting from foster care that children might have siblings they need to keep in contact with or later siblings who are born that you may be asked to take. How would you feel about supporting those relationships or taking (or not taking) that child? How would you feel about maintaining an open relationship with a mother who abused a child, neglected a child or allowed them to be abused? How would you handle extended bio family relationships with aunts, uncles, grandparents that might exist or be desired?
Some of those same things come up with private adoption, I would assume. I don’t know much about private adoption, because we didn’t find it an appealing road for us.
Adoption of any kind involves SO MANY people beyond yourself. I think the sooner you accept that reality, truly embrace that reality, and are thoughtful and kind and generous about the feelings of everyone involved, the better you will feel about your process. And the more foster adoption might appeal. Because no matter how you are engaging in adoption, these uncertainties exist. At least foster adoption is a place where you know that from the get go. And your child(ren) may benefit from the information and services that are available through this system.
In my view, life is full of uncertainties, especially regarding the concept of becoming a parent. You may mean to be a biological parent but be infertile or love an infertile partner. You may mean to have one child and get pregnant with three. You may expect to adopt a straight, cisgender kid and end up with a queer, gender nonconforming child. You may expect a healthy baby who is born with a congenital medical problem. You may have a healthy child who falls ill. You may have a healthy child who is injured. Anyone could get hit by a bus tomorrow. You really don’t know what life is going to be like until you start living it, and expectations and preferences sort of get steamrolled, especially when it comes to kids.
I don’t know what the “advice” part of this is except to be really honest with yourself, and with anyone you plan to be parenting with, about what you can handle, and what you can’t. Financially, emotionally, time-wise (waiting can be really stressful), schedule-wise, career-impact-wise, etc. What kind of help would you need? What are you honestly trying to get out of this journey? And to listen to the other person (if there is another person) equally.
If it’s just you, find someone to talk it out with. If you pray, pray on it. If you meditate, meditate on it. If you cook, cook spaghetti on it. Write, draw, swim, whatever you do. You know what I am saying. Think. Really think in whatever way works best for you about what you want to do and what you are capable of.
I’ll share my personal story. I was on the fence about fostering. It wasn’t something I have a lot of experience with, and I often feel very closed to strangers and I was really anxious about getting involved in a system that would bring so many people into my life. I wanted to parent, I knew we could definitely help some kids, but I was scared.
And then one night we were at a gay piano bar, and everyone was singing show tunes and I was feeling amazing. And I looked around at all of those drunk gay strangers and I realized, every single one of them had been a child. Every one there had been helpless and vulnerable. And perhaps some of those people had needed protection and help, or a home. And at that moment, I loved all of those strangers, or at least I realized, I could love them all. I especially could love any of them as a child, whether they were like me, or unlike me, or had parents who made my life difficult or a social worker who drove me up the wall or had to go home and broke my heart. I felt connected and confident that I could love them. And that was when I knew I was going to be ok with fostering, when I knew what I could give to the endeavor, rather than what I wanted from it.
I’m reblogging this, because it’s a great post, and pretty much on point. High five, sister!