Over 125,000 children in the United States are waiting to be adopted. National Adoption Day raises awareness so that those kiddos move from foster care to forever families. Judge Michael Nash of the Los Angeles County Juvenile Court was the inspiration for this awareness day, as he opened his court on Saturdays with volunteers to finalize adoptions during a significant court backlog.
It’s fitting that National Adoption Day is just a few days before another national holiday where families and friends gather to give thanks for what they have been given. We embrace the stories and ideas of children who sit around a celebratory Thanksgiving feast with people who love them and accept them for maybe the first time in their lives. Those stories inspire. They even motivate some to action.
If you are one of those people moved by the National Adoption Day stories, we applaud you. We celebrate you. We are with you. However, we’d like to ask something else of you.
We’d like you to wait.
Would you wait to sign with an adoption agency? Would you press pause on paperwork? Just until January?
When amazing adults are motivated to walk into the foster to adopt space, it is almost always with excitement and expectation. Sometimes these adults have an understanding that the journey will be difficult. Rarely do we hear of potential adoptive parents expecting to walk through years of hard parenting. This “rarely” category of parent is reality when caring for children who have hard histories.
This is why we are asking you, the ones beautifully motivated by National Adoption Day, to pause. Wait until January. Ask yourselves these questions:
- Are my expectations for what my family will be like after we adopt a child consistent with the reality of trauma-related behaviors that are common in children who have been in foster care?
- If you are married, is your marriage strong enough to weather the proverbial storms?
- Are the other children in my home able to handle the addition of another child in your home?
- Have you, as the potential adoptive parent, healed from your past so that you are emotionally health enough to care for a child with trauma?
- Are you willing to put in the hard work of mental health appointments, connecting activities, and academic assistance to help your adopted child heal?
- Do you understand that adopted children grieve the loss of their biological parents, even if their adoptive parents are amazing?
- Will you press on when the foster-adopt journey is really hard?
- Am I willing for every day to be Adoption Day? Children adopted out of foster care need to know that they are in a family forever.
If the answers to any of those questions are “no,” we would ask you to wait until January to enter the foster-adopt space. Find solutions to your “no” answers. Call Chosen and we will give you some assistance on how to turn those no answers into “yes” answers.
If the answers to all of those questions are “yes,” we would still ask you to wait until January.
Wait, so you can seek inside your soul to see if adoption is something you can do selflessly, without your own expectations of what the process will be like. Wait to see if you are still as deeply motivated after National Adoption Day when ads, stories and blogs aren’t in your social media feed anymore. Wait, so that you have time to talk to others who have walked the road. Wait, so you can listen to stories, both good and hard. Wait, so you can sit with the idea that adoption is a beautiful, joyful journey, combined with the idea that adoption is hard and complicated.
We recently walked a potential foster to adopt couple through curriculum that teaches parents how best to care for children who have experienced abuse, neglect, and trauma. These parents of three had responded to a call to do something about the foster care crisis in our country. While their hearts wanted to jump in with both feet, their heads knew they needed to wait. They shored up their support system, provided respite for other foster parents, prepared their biological children as best they could, and now they know more about helping children from hard places that they ever thought they would. This trauma-competent couple waited. A year later, they are significantly more prepared to handle the complexities of the journey.
As you wait, here are some suggestions:
- Read books, blogs and articles about adoption out of foster care;
- Listen to foster and adoption podcasts;
- Make a family appointment with a therapist to talk through the potential of adoption;
- Babysit another family’s child adopted out of foster care;
- Get an Adult Attachment Interview from a qualified administrator to see if you have a secure attachment style;
- Have everyone in your family complete free, online personality tests so you know each other’s communication styles;
- Determine who your support system will be when you do adopt and ensure those you identify are on board with being your support.
Wait. Talk. Call Chosen. Think. Pray. And then wait some more. January will be here before you know it.
Chosen does whatever it takes to keep families together, every day.