This is the 4th post in a series, "Foster Care? I could never do that". Click here for the previous post.
Since we started dating, Daniel and I have discussed the possibility of adopting a child. My adoption heart has been drawn to Ethiopia, then to Haiti, and then came full circle back home to the United States. But despite our desire to adopt a baby, we shied away from foster care because of the other reasons I talked about here, here and here. And even though we had discussed the idea of adoption, it was often an after thought – we will adopt AFTER we have our bio kids, or we will adopt AFTER we have the finances in place or we will adopt AFTER our other kids are grown. I liked the idea of adoption, but it came with many conditions – conditions that I could control and quantify.
Growing up I pictured my family with four children – three biological little blondies and a wild card spot that could be filled by either an adopted child or another biological one. From the minute my second son arrived, I have referred to him as my middle child, not my youngest—he was just another stepping stone to building our family. If I talked to you last May, I would have told you we would start trying to get pregnant in August of 2015, because that was what MY life plan looked like. I guess God had a different idea.
There is no doubt in my mind that I want more children permanently in my home – so why then, would we consider foster care if we must risk giving a child back? That’s a great question—one that I asked myself (and God) approximately one bazillion times. (I would have made a great Pharisee, always asking questions trying to stump Jesus.) Unfortunately for me, He keeps providing answers to every single one of my questions. It’s starting to get annoying.
Disclaimer: I am not a foster care expert and the processes are different in every state – I simply know the process in the one state I’ve fostered in, Hawaii – so don’t assume all the logistics are the same everywhere.
In Hawaii, there is no option to “foster to adopt”. Due to the “Ohana” (family) culture that exists here, the state has a strong desire to reunite children with their birth family. In fact, 75% of children in Hawaii’s foster care system are reunited with some kind of family. Knowing this, we understand that our chances of adopting through foster care in Hawaii are not statistically in our favor. Even so, we have committed to serve children in foster care during our time in Hawaii, whether or not it leads to adoption.
I now know that God is in control of our family, and He will build it however He sees fit. So if after our time here we have been able to adopt through foster care, then great! But, if not? We will trust in God’s plan for our family and be grateful for the children we were able to serve. Can I tell you how much this uncertainty scares me? A whole freakin’ lot. But I know this – I am more scared to turn away from the foster children we can serve here than I am to figure out how we can build our family.
What I love about the way God works, is that He often answers prayers bigger and better than I even imagined. It had become very clear to us that we needed to foster, but I didn’t realize how fostering is arguably the most appealing and logical way to go about adopting a child. Like I said, we are unsure if we will be able to adopt, but if we are, there are a lot of perks from fostering first.
A friend once told me that the beautiful part of fostering is that, unlike a private adoption, you are able to have a “test run”. By welcoming a child into your home through foster care, you can begin to understand if this kid is really a good fit for your family. You will often gain in depth knowledge about this child’s family history and experience their strengths and shortcomings first hand. By no means are you required to to adopt a child you’ve served in foster care, but at least you are able to make a fully informed decision – assessing how the child fits into your family’s dynamics.
Secondly, unlike private adoption, there is little to no financial burden. During a child’s time in foster care, the foster parents are paid a monthly stipend. The state (at least in Hawaii) usually covers the cost of the home study as well as any legal fees associated with a foster child's adoption. And while the prospect of income is no reason to foster, it does make adoption incredibly more affordable for families who aren’t able to raise the $30,000-$40,000 for a private adoption.
Lastly, we feel that we can serve the greatest need by looking to adopt a child in the foster care system. And while these kiddos potentially have more trauma in their lives than the newborns adopted through private agencies, they are still deserving of a loving home.
Our hearts were almost healed and I knew we were called to foster, but one detail was still perplexing. In my limited experience with the system, I only heard of two types of families who foster – poor families who needed the money or precious, saintly, ultra-conservative families. We didn’t fit either bill, so I began to wonder, “Why don’t more middle-of-the-road families do it?”
This is the fourth post in a series, "Foster Care? I could never do that". Click here for the previous post.
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I am a lover of people, a child of God, and a laugher at jokes. I write words, cry tears and smile at strangers.