One of the worst feelings a parent can have is the worry that someone will take their child. Often, this is just an instinctual fear that poses no real threat. However, this fear is very real and present in some adoption situations.The risk of losing a child that they are attached to is another reason many people will not consider foster adoption. Quite often, people think of foster adoption as the type of adoption that puts the adoptive family most at risk of being hurt. Opening your heart to a child through adoption is not without risks of heartbreak. However, in some situations, foster adoption is not always the riskiest choice.
International adoptions depend on relations between countries.
All adoptions have some risk of falling through. International adoption typically involves children who have been orphaned who live in institutions. Someone coming from across the sea to take the child back is almost unheard of. This is one of the reasons many people feel that going through the process of foreign adoption is worth investing money and time. However, it is not without its setbacks. Parents who would adopt from other countries are at the mercy of political leaders. Russia’s recent ban on international adoptions was a painful reminder of that fact for many waiting parents.
Private adoptions are risky until the adoption is finalized.
In private adoptions, you typically go through the nine months of pregnancy with the birth mother but have no legal rights until after the baby is born. Even then, she has to consent to terminate her rights to parent the child. Even after that time, some states give her a grace period to change her mind. However, as in every type of adoption, once it has been finalized, it can’t be undone without very rare and special circumstances. Private adoptions often have some degree of openness to them. If at any point in this process the birth mother changes her mind, even if the child ultimately stays with you, it can be a very conflicting situation.
Foster-to-adopt can be a slow and frustrating process, but the outcomes are often foreseen.
In my state of Louisiana, Foster-to-adopt is when someone becomes a foster parent with the hope of one day adopting their foster child. Many children may come into the foster home temporarily before moving back home or with a relative. It is true that this process can be heartbreaking, but it is almost never a surprise. It is also not common for the child to stay long enough to get attached, though it does happen. If a relative is available, they often know soon after the child goes into care.
Adoption is not the main purpose of foster care. Reuniting children with their birth family is the goal. When that isn’t possible, the goal is to provide a permanent option through adoption. This can be stressful for couples looking to adopt, but for many, it is worth the wait for their child. Like many people who have gone through the foster-to-adopt process, my husband and I have found satisfaction in providing a safe home for children, even if only for a little while.
Adopting a child waiting for a home in foster care is the least risky of all.
Children waiting in foster care are those whose parents no longer have parental rights. They also do not have relatives who are able to take them in. This is why they are sometimes referred to as “free for adoption.” These children range in age from 5-19 and are looking forward to one day having a permanent family. The adoption process for these little ones is typically quick and without complication.
In 2008, researchers from the University of California at Berkley defined “disruptions” in adoptive placements from foster care. They estimated it occurs almost 25 percent of the time. However, this statistic is misleading. These disruptions, by definition, occur after the child is put into an “adoptive placement” and before adoption. Disruptions are most likely the result of the trial period adoptive families and foster children have to get to know each other. Adoptive parents who don’t feel the child is a good fit for the family or older foster children who don’t get along with the family choose not to go through with the adoption. While caseworkers try to match families as best they can, and it is unfortunate if a placement doesn’t work out, sometimes you just don’t know if it is a good fit until you try. They don’t call it a “trial placement,” because if it does work out, it counts toward the six months the child has to be in your home before adoption.
All children are adoptable.
I hear many people say that the reason these children have been in care for a long time is that they are “unadoptable” children. They are thought of as the leftovers from foster care that nobody else wanted. That is simply not the case. Adoption doesn’t filter out the best and brightest from foster care. My daughter was one of those children waiting in foster care. She was part of a sibling group that they were not able to find a home for. Every child’s unique situation came about because of a variety of factors, but being “unadoptable” is certainly not one of them.
Every adoption has the potential to fall through for various reasons. When you are the parent whose heart has been broken, it doesn’t matter if it was because of a government decision or a long-lost relative’s return. It still hurts. For people who are considering adoption, know that the risk of the adoption falling through is always present no matter which adoption path you choose. If you can, consider offering your heart to a child already waiting in foster care.
Coakley, J. F., & Berrick, J. D. (2008). Research Review: In a rush to permanency: preventing adoption disruption. Child & Family Social Work, 13(1), 101-112. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2206.2006.00468.x