Adopting is a wonderful way that many people use to grow their families. While there are many different routes to adoption, one common way is through the foster care system. People decide to work as a foster family in the hopes of making a strong connection to the children in their home. Then, they can use adoption to bring a special foster child into their family permanently.
While there are many successful foster-child adoption stories out there, not all of these stories end up happily ever after. Disappointment, disruption, false allegations and even dissolution are sometimes the harsh reality for those who adopted a child they were fostering. You can, however, increase your odds of a wonderful foster-child adoption experience by avoiding some common mistakes people have made in this situation.
Not Enough Training
One of the first missteps people make when adopting a foster child is a lack of proper training. Being a great grandparent or parent doesn’t automatically mean you will be a great foster parent. Get foster parent training and know what to expect. There are a lot of helpful guides, training videos and courses online for prospective foster partners, so you can do this training at home and around your current work schedule.
Failure to Understand Trauma
Foster care adoption, to put it bluntly, is not a form of glorified babysitting. In many cases, children coming out of foster care have experienced some type of trauma, including abandonment, neglect and abuse. As a foster and adoptive parent, you have to be prepared to meet their needs. Learn more about what specific type of needs the child has, and educate yourself about them. In short, you need to be ready to meet the child wherever they are currently and work from there.
Missing Too Much Background
You must know the child’s history. Why are they in the foster care system? Who was important in the child’s past? What is the medical history in their family? What is the child’s culture? When you learn more about your child’s background and where they come from, you will be better positioned to care for them.
Having Unrealistic Expectations
Your adopted child may never be a sports star or at the top of their class. They may never meet any expectations you have in any way, shape or form. If you have biological children, comparing your adopted child to your biological children is a bad idea.
In addition, you should never let any disappointment you may have with your adopted foster child prod you into being unloving in any way. A foster child’s special needs and behaviors simply come with the territory. While it’s okay to have some expectations, you should be prepared to adjust them as necessary. Aim to meet your child’s needs instead of having your own met. Adults should always meet a child’s needs and not the other way around. Take the time to learn more about what your adoptive child’s strengths are, and look for the positives in every situation you encounter.
Not Seeking a Mentor
Reach out to people who have adopted from foster care to obtain some valuable insight. Learn from their experience and gain some of their knowledge. No two cases are identical, but you can still learn a lot from parents who have already been down the road you are heading toward.
Be sure to listen to your attorney as you go through the foster care adoption process. They will help you avoid any legal mistakes, which can be very costly in an adoption case.