Hoping to adopt from foster care...but...
I have been hoping to adopt a child around age of 5 from foster care system. Dh has been up and down with our discussions. Lately he has been reluctant because of concerns financially for future college and in general. He also has expressed he is content with where we are now as a family. Years ago he promised me we would adopt. I have tried to think about how I would feel if we didn't, but it has been so heartbreaking and I feel my heart is so full of love to have a child.
Hugs to anyone reading and going through adoption.
Any advice on how to help get dh more enthusiatic or at least willing to try this and go to classes?
I am thinking of writing him an E-mail, because when we try to talk about this he avoids my eye contact lately. I think he really has mixed feelings and it's so hard to deal with. Has anyone gone through this and then had dh feel better eventually?
Take good care,
LM (orig. from TAL)
Does your DH object to adoption at all or adoption of an older child?
I think the key is to talk to your DH and figure out exactly where his hesitation lies: adoption at all, adoption of an older child, or adoption via foster care.
If your DH is not on board, the I urge you to consider it very carefully. A 5-year old child from foster care is going to have significant, lifelong challenges that a child adopted as an infant would not have. And if the child is not legally free for adoption, he may not want the risk that the child returns home.
Some books to read
"Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child"
"A Child's Journey through Placement"
(((hugs))) it is so hard to make rational choices when our hearts are breaking
Thanks Erin for your support and kind words. I had a talk with dh tonight just so we could clear the air. I feel a little bit better, but there is still a lot for us to work out.
I hope with all of my heart that somehow we will be able to figure this whole thing out. You said it so clearly at the end. It is so hard when our hearts are breaking.
I just hope to be able to cope and accept whatever may come in our future. Life is so hard when two people have different perspectives and it can be painful when it is about something so special as this.
I know I'm not saying much right now, but it is so raw and I need to process this right now. I hope to keep posting.
Would you mind sharing your story of adoption plans with me?
Thanks again for reaching out to me.
It seems so long ago. In 1999, DH and I were at the point that the next infertility treatment cycle would have required us to take out a large loan with no guarentee of success. We also wanted a large family and knew that we could not afford 4 private adoptions, so we went the foster-adopt route.
We had 4 children placed in our home for the purpose of adoption. They were "post legal screening" meaning that they had cleared all but the last hurdle to be free for adoption, at the time in our state the DA would not take the case over that last hurdle until the kids were in a pre-adoptive home. We also had one little girl that we did foster-only because we knew her parents and they were in a horrific car accident and we cared for her for 6 months until mom was out of the hospital (sadly, dad died).
While legally we adopted 4 children, only 3 are still in our home. The fourth was a young girl, age 5. She was with us about 7 years before she had to be placed in a Residential Treatment Center for children with severe mental illness and extreme violence. Looking back, the warning signs were there but we weren't experienced enough to understand them and our caseworkers were younger than we were!
Here are some things I wish I would have understood prior to choosing this path:
1. Even moderate abuse of a young child cause permanent changes to the brain structure that no amount of therapy, medications or love can fix. Moderate abuse rarely leaves the tell-tale signs of broken bones, etc.
2. Most children in foster care have been sexually abused. Again, there is rarely any physical proof of this. (That shocked me, I would have thought that there'd be tearing, etc. but if there is any, it heals quickly.)
3. The BIG RED FLAGS that signal that a child has significant mental health issues: sexually acting out, harming others, harming self, harming animals, setting fires, encropesis, and manipulation/triangulation.
4. On the nature vs nurture debate: Nature wins. Mental illness and IQ both are heavily controlled by genes. While nuture can maximize someone's potential, it cannot trump nature.
5. Talk to the child's current foster parents, find out why they are not choosing to adopt the child. Really listen to their answer. For three of our children, the foster mom was an older 'grandma' type woman and she was retiring and moving in with one of her children so she couldn't keep them. For the one girl that ended up causing so much pain, her foster mom told us "there's something wrong with that girl, she's nasty". We thought, how could anyone say that about a 5 year old child. And our thought process was reinforced by her 'honeymoon period' (a time anywhere from a few days to over a year when the child behaves very well before the 'real' child come out).
6. Get all the promises in writing for your adoption subsidy. If the child is in therapy and the subsidy agrees to pay for continued therapy with that therapist for $x/hour, make sure that x is really what the therapist charges, etc.
Now that I have told you are the scary warnings, please realize that only 1 of our 4 was that bad. From the other foster-adopt families that I know, that seems to be the common ratio.
But, even our other 3 are high-needs children. One needed therapy and special ed until she was 9, but is now on honor roll in regular ed classes and only struggles on tests. The other two remain in special ed despite average IQs due to learning disabilities, sensory issues, etc. But both are so much better than they were 5 years ago; the oldest is in high school and is planning on college
Would I do it again? Most days , I would adopt my three again. My biggest regret was not understanding the signs that would have warned us not to adopt that 5 year girl. (Visit the forums at www.conductdisorder.com for some insight from families in the trenches, most of the kids there are moderately difficult to parent; some current kids on the board that are like my (former) daughter: Onyxx, Kanga, ktbug -- just use the forum search to read about any of them.
I love my three dearly. They bring joy to my life but they have also forced me to become a 'warrior parent'.
You didn't mention how old you are. If you are still young, you may want to consider one year of "childfree living" and make an appointment for November 1, 2012 to discuss the issue again with your husband. Unless you are nearing the cut-off ages, you can take your time, there are always foster children needing homes.
(Sidenote: all of our children are also transracially adopted, that part ended up being far less of a big deal that we were told; so many resources out there now and far more open mindedness among today's children)
Dear Erin (preg, losses, and b/c ment)
Hi! I tried to private message you because it is hard to talk about some things. However, it came back to me. Anyway, here is my post below.
Thanks so much for your wonderful post. I appreciate hearing your story.
I am 41 and dh just turned 49. We have a dd miracle baby who took ten years of trying and multiple losses, including the loss of her twin. We love her dearly and are very lucky to have her. The pregnancy was extremely difficult with multiple complications; and I was on bedrest from 8 wks of preg.
Just before we conceived her I told my dh that I was about done ttc b/c of sooooo much stress and heartache. I had finally found out answers, had to take a year off to get medicines to help, then was going through so much stress ttc again. My dh said we should try and see if the treatment and other meds I found out I needed would help. We agreed to try one more cycle, but we also talked about adoption and I was very strong on wanting at least two children. I even made him promise me, no matter what happened that we would adopt! (He was a little concerned about having a b/c and an adopted child.) We also talked about adopting in the future after I lost my dd's twin. Dh said adopting sounded like a good idea.
My dd was born early which was stressful. Then, when my dd was only 5 months old I ended up with emergency surg. and was in the hospital for 8 days. It was hard on all three of us. The reason I bring this up is b/c I think all of this wore on my dh.
My dh wanted 12 kids when we first met and talked about having a family. Now he is content with just one b/c of all we went through, but was willing to do it b/c I felt so strongly about having another child and also for having a sibling for my dd. At one point he said he would leave it up to my dd to decide. She really wants a sibling. So this has been so complicated all around.
My dh first talked about adopting through foster care and we started out with the idea of a younger child 18mos or 2, however we kept raising the age. Now it is up to 5. He was fine with the idea of adopting from foster care about 5 months ago, but suddenly he was turned off to the idea b/c I told him children in foster care get free college. He wanted us to just have a foster child and not adopt, after that, but I was against that. I want the child to feel accepted for love.
This is such a long story, but it is hard to talk about.
My dh says he's getting older and thinks he has reached his maximum potential to give to another child, which is hard, but we are trying to figure things out. This frustrates me b/c he wanted to wait until my dd was older. Now that we waited I think it is harder on me b/c he changed his mind.
I'm a Special Education Teacher, so I have experienced some of the things you described with my students. I worked with children with severe behavioral problems for three years and I currently teach children who are adjudicated. I know I have patience, but am worried about dh with that end of things. However, I know many wonderful children who are in foster care. They may have challenges, but I have seen lots of improvements and it so wonderful to see these accomplishments.
I am hopeful that it will all work out in the end, whatever the final outcome will be. We agreed to talk again, but to wait two weeks. It is hard to know what the future holds.
I appreciate all of your kind words.
When my account had to be reset it tuned me back into a newbie so I can't PM again yet. I had thousands of posts way back when.
I didn't realize you already had a child. How old is she?
My strongest recommendation is go for a child at least 5 years younger than her. That way she is big enough to defend herself and old enough to tell you things. It will also cut down on some of the rivalry because they will be far apart enough in age that they won't be in the same social circles or in high school together.
Yes, there are many great kids in foster care through no fault of their own and with enourmous potential. But every child in foster care has been traumatized to some degree.
I taught self-contained ED/BD for several years at an alternate school. While your experience will help, parenting an ED/BD child is a whole other level.
I'm not saying not to do it. Just have your eyes wide open.