When we began our foster-to-adopt journey in 2015, we had a lot of questions- and misconceptions- of what the path ahead entailed. We’d heard the “horror stories,” and seen plenty of TV shows detailing the realities of the foster care system. There were a lot of things we thought we knew, that we wish someone had told us up front. Hindsight being what it is, maybe we would have entered the process sooner if we’d had this information, we don’t know.
With an increase in those asking us for advice on what growing a family through this process is like, here are 4 of the misconceptions we’ve encountered (or held ourselves) during our journey:
It’s too expensive to adopt!
This misconception comes because, in one way, this is true. If you decide to adopt internationally (any age) or an infant domestically, the cost to your family does add up. Adopting from the foster care system, however, does not share those high costs.
When we began the process, we did pay for our background check as part of our application to our agency. We also had miscellaneous charges like CPR certification, federal fingerprinting, etc. Overall, however, we didn’t accrue many expenses when adopting our son from foster care. The bigger expenses (lawyer for adoption, mileage for visits, etc.) were covered in our post-adoption reimbursement. This reimbursement changes from case to case but, for the most part, these expenses are covered. Due to our agency’s suggestion, even our lawyer was an easy hire as she is the main legal counsel for adoptions with our agency.
Overall, adopting from foster care is not going to empty your bank account when it comes to the process itself.
Note: as foster parents, and in some post-adoptive situations, you will receive a stipend to aid in care for the children with you. This stipend is not a lot of money but is enough to help with some of the ‘extra’ expenses you’ll take on as foster/adoptive parents. Children in foster care also have their medical/dental, etc. insurance covered through Medicaid, so you’ll not have that worry either. In NC (and other states), children who are older than 12 when they are adopted are also eligible for receiving college-aid (up to full cost) ensuring that adoption later in life does not take that possibility off the table for them.
I won’t know how to handle __________ …
On some level, this is true. There is no amount of preparation or training, that can prepare you for everything. The important thing to remember is that you are becoming a parent. No parent has all the answers and no amount of reading, training, or conversation is going to give you all of the answers.
That being said, the process of adopting from foster care does give you a lot of good insight for the road ahead. By the time we became licensed foster parents, we’d sat in multiple training classes covering things like medication administration, trauma, working with birth parents, dealing with legal situations, and discipline alternatives (to name a few).
The best part? If you didn’t get it in the training, you still have a case worker assigned to you to call on when you need help. In our case, our agency assigned us a worker from the beginning who guided us through the process and has been there every step of the way.
It’s too much work…
Well, it a process of becoming a parent and raising a child, sooo…
Yes, adopting from foster care is not a perfect process and it comes with its own share of good days and bad. This does not mean that it’s not worth it! Don’t let the process scare you. It can be long, it can be tedious, but in the end, you’ll (hopefully) find it was worth all of the effort. If you’re like us, the long training/waiting process will fade into the background when that child/children are asleep in their beds upstairs.
But, an older child comes with too much baggage…
I’ve not raised an infant, so I can’t fully help you there. What I can say, as the parent of a middle schooler, is that my son is just as deserving of a family as an infant is. Just because he entered his teenage years before he was adopted, does not mean that he is not deserving of a loving, caring, root-providing family.
I know that an older child comes with a knowledge of their past. (If you’re wondering, that does not go away with adoption and a “new” family). The thing is, we get to spend each day providing for our son and helping him learn that his past does not make him less than who he is. His past is a part of him and always will be. While an older child is not easy, we do not regret the fact that he is a part of our family or that we became his parents with mere years before college.
I can’t speak to this fact fully, but it is important to note that a child being removed from their biological family, whether at birth or later in life, will affect them in some way. Do not assume that adopting young will avoid those tough situations/conversations later.
All I will say is that, statistically, with every passing birthday my son became less likely to be adopted due to his age. The staggering reality that there are hundreds of thousands of children in foster care, many above the age of 5 (average age is 7-8 years old), makes considering adopting an older child, worth the time.
This list is not, nor is intended to be, exhaustive. There are many, many more that we could add to this list (perhaps we will, in future posts). That being said, what would you add to the list? Comment below!
Want more information on what to do next? We LOVE our agency. Using a private agency does not cost anything and ensures your license covers a broader area. Check them out here: chsnc.org.