Why we decided to expand our family through foster care adoption
My husband and I already had one biological son when we thought about expanding our family. The subject of having a second child kept coming up every year since our son was still a toddler, but it seemed like either the time or the circumstances weren’t ever right.
Then, when our son was about 8 years old we had a serious discussion on whether or not we’ll make a decision about a second child. My husband was the first one who cautiously brought up an adoption as an alternative to having another biological child. He was surprised when I was excited about the idea. Why didn’t I think of it myself? After all, there are so many children who are waiting for forever families.
Making a decision to adopt versus having another child biologically was a big decision for us, but it felt like it was the right thing to do for many reasons.
Once the decision to adopt was made, we moved quickly to explore our resources and next steps. We attended an initial orientation at a local DHS office and learned there were many children in foster care who are waiting for forever families. Most of those children are older children. As we heard more about what these children have gone through we were convinced that adopting from foster care was the way to go.
One of the initial requirements was to attend a free adoption fundamentals training, which could be taken through the local DHS office or through Boys & Girls Aid. We attended the one through Boys & Girls Aid due to the schedule preference. We later decided to go through Boys and Girls Aid for our adoption process, and we were so glad we did. Our adoption clinician Cheri was always there for us with helpful information, encouraging words, and all kinds of support. We were very lucky to be matched to our daughter Ali quickly.
The DHS case manager had shared a photo book about our family with our Ali so that she could see where we live and what we like to do. Later the case manager scheduled a video meeting so we could see each other online and chat. In a few days we made a trip to Eugene and had a series of meetings there.
I especially enjoyed spending a day in our daughter’s school. It was a small rural school and she had already proudly shown our photo book to all of the teachers and her whole class. By the time we arrived to spend time with her at school, almost everyone knew who we were. Kids and adults would come to us and say “You are Ali’s new mom and dad!” We were celebrities that day.
The transition of moving her to our home permanently happened intentionally slowly. We had several outings together and then started having her spend weekends with us. She was more than ready when the final day came to live with us forever. When we brought Ali to our church we were welcomed with “Welcome Ali” sign and were all showered with cards, gifts, and kind words.
The finalization day came almost a year after Ali moved in with us. It was a tough year: lots of adjustments and changes for everyone, but we had such a nice support team. When we were notified by our attorney that the adoption paperwork was finalized and signed by the judge, we were jumping with excitement! We asked Ali how she wanted to celebrate, and she chose a dinner out for just our family. We later had a big celebration which included our friends, family and her classmates.
If I had to give advice to someone considering adopting from foster care, I would tell them to be open-minded and do lots of reading. There are tons of books about parenting adopted children and how trauma affects their brain.
Parenting children from foster care requires special skills. It’s important to have a team of professionals who have experience with special needs children and understand your family’s needs. Earning their trust takes time. Be patient not only with your child but also with yourself.