We are finalizing the adoption of our little girl (21 months) on Tuesday, so I thought this was a great time to write an article on the benefits of adopting through foster care. I think most of the time when people think about adoption, they think of international adoption, but the truth is, there are a whole lot of children right here in the United States who would love to be a part of a stable and loving family. That being said, in this article I want to highlight some of the benefits of adopting through foster care.
1. You can choose the age, gender, and level of care that will fit your particular family. To be sure, no one child is more worth of being adopted than another, but every family has different needs and capabilities when it comes to bringing another child into the home. In adoption through foster care, you can choose very specifically what kind of placement you will agree to take.
2. As a foster parent, the state is there to help you every step of the way. Many people like to complain about how inept DHS is, or how broken the system is, and they probably have some valid points. However, it's been my experience that the state will do what it is capable of doing to help out its' foster and adoptive parents. For my adoptive daughter alone, we have at the very least 7 support people we can go to (her lawyer, our lawyer, the GAL, our agency social worker, our adoption worker, our DHS social worker, her speech therapist, and her physical therapist). We have never, in the 20 months we've fostered her, had an issue that went totally ignored. No, the state isn't perfect, but the support is there if you are intentional about advocating for your adoptive child.
3. Depending on the circumstances, you could raise your adopted child from birth. If you choose to care for children who are not legally free for adoption, you could potentially have your adoptive child with you from birth. That's what happened in our situation. We had no intention of adopting at all, though we were open to the possibility. We picked our adoptive daughter up when she was 10 days old. She was not available for adoption, and her birthmom attempted to work her treatment plan for over a year after she came to live with us. After parental rights were terminated, as her foster parents, we were first in line to adopt her. Because she had been with us since birth, the bonding and attachment that happens with biological children was already in place.
4. Providing for a child adopted from foster care should not burden you financially. Foster parents receive a monthly stipend to cover the cost of basic necessities. Foster children also receive WIC and medicaid. Sometimes they can receive clothing allowances. After adoption, depending on the circumstances, the stipend can continue until age 18, increasing at specific intervals. Medicaid typically continues until age eighteen. Some foster children qualify for free college tuition. I believe all foster children who are adopted qualify for mental health services, counseling and the like. Even the adoption itself, including legal fees, is provided at no cost to the adoptive parents. Finances are a touchy subject, especially when it comes to adoption. But I mention this mainly because I hear so many people say that they would love to adopt, but they can't afford it. My feeling is, if you really want to adopt and feel you can't afford it, adoption through foster care may be for you.
5. These children are just as worthy as those orphaned in a third world country. This is perhaps the most important reason to adopt from foster care. Maybe this is just my own perception, but I sometimes feel like people are enchanted by international adoption with its' exotic culture, long wait times and incredible expense. It seems that adoption through foster care is looked on by some as less desirable. As if those adopted internationally will be less challenging than those adopted from foster care. All adopted children will have challenges. All are in need of loving homes.
If you've considered adoption before, but weren't sure which route was best, consider adopting through foster care. I know it was a choice that I will never regret!