Hey y’all! I want to talk to you today about something you can do to help your friends through the adoption process. I’m teaming up with Becky from Three Heart Babies to go over two different point of views for helping-adoption from a private agency and adoption from foster care!
Obviously, I am here to talk to you about how to help a friend through adoption through foster care. We adopted/have guardianship of three of our kids through foster care and I also have two siblings adopted though foster care. I often get asked how to help families who are awaiting adoption and I think it’s something that we can help each other through. Please feel free to share this with anyone who is being touched by foster care adoption, so they know how to help their brothers and sisters in Christ.
How can you help your friends through foster care adoption?
Get yourself CORI’d! It’s simple. You give a few essential items of identification to the agency and they run it to make sure you don’t have a criminal record. Then you can help baby sit the kids. And every mom and dad out there needs someone to baby sit their kids on the off chance they want to still be married at the end of raising babies.
Attend court dates with them. Guys, I’m going to be completely transparent here-the worst day of our entire adoption process was the day I had to get on the stand and testify. It was absolutely miserable. And because we had five kids at home and court was over an hour from our home, I had to do it alone. Which meant, I heard parts of the case I had never heard before(the really heart wrenching ones), was questioned and cross examined, and then had to go eat lunch—alone. If you have a friend who has to go to a court date, support them through it. Offer to baby sit or go with them. You can’t go into the courtroom in most cases, but you can hold their hand while they cry into their pizza after.
Educate yourself. I love talking foster care and adoption. The lingo is something I am at ease with after living in the world for over a decade; I know many people come to me and ask me questions about specific words and rules and guidelines. And I cherish that. But not every hopeful adoptive parent wants to have to sit there and explain every word to you as they are fighting through the process. Read others foster care and adoption blogs. Check out this post on the vocabulary you may want as you hold a friends hand through this. Look into the rules and regulations of your local agencies. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t ask a pregnant woman to explain every little part of the process to you, would you? You may ask her for advice after, when you decide to have babies. But during the process, if you want to know something, you Google it. Get on googling adoption from foster care facts. But-educate yourself, just make sure to not do it in front of the kids. Some kids don’t know the status of their adoption or termination of parental rights. It’s never appropriate to ask first family questions or about the status of the adoption in front of a child.
Offer to help with errands and around the house chores, if there are other kids in the home, offer to help out with them. Adoption is a long and hard process, but the court weeks and training weeks are extra exhausting and trying. See if you can help clean up, make meals, mow lawns, etc. Training in MA is 30 hours and sometimes there is traveling involved. If a family already has a child, it’s critical they have child care during this. Offer to help in any way they need it.
Know the difference between foster care and foster-to-adopt. The point of foster care is not adoption. SAY IT WITH ME A LITTLE LOUDER HERE. The point of foster care is not adoption; it is the reunification to a child with their birth parents or family when it is a healthy and safe situation. If your friends are fostering, please do not assume that they are going to adopt, that the goal is adoption or even that they want to adopt. We began the foster care journey with the hopes of adopting a single child. When that fell through, we wanted to simply foster and help reunify children with the biological parents or be a midway stop as they went on to forever families. Jesus had a different idea, obviously, but we never wanted to foster to adopt. It’s an acceptable question to ask, when the children are not around. (Above about educating yourself on not saying things in front of the kids!)
Don’t be discouraging or pessimistic. Chances are, if a person is far enough into this process, they already are aware of the risks. Yes, that’s right, I said risks. You can’t go through a foster care adoption site without hearing the stories. Some of our kids will never heal, some will only heal part way. PTSD, food insecurity, RAD, bed wetting, anxiety, a high chance of substance abuse, personality disorders, developmental delays, FTT….we’ve heard them all. The added bonus is that at the end of the day, they may become a teenager or adult, decide we aren’t their “real” parent and walk away. We are usual well aware of the risks when we are going through this process. No hopeful adoptive parent needs you to come tell them a horror story about a little boy who tried to stab his parents, okay?
Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray with them. Pray with them when times are rough, when they’re facing impossible choices. Pray for them. Pray for patience, for steadfastness, for faith. Pray for the first families and the children who have their lives in limbo. Pray without ceasing. If you need ideas of what to pray for a foster family, I have a post here on it!
Remember, it’s not over until the ink on the papers dry. One of the hardest things is the waiting, waiting, waiting. Our adoption took two and a half years to be finalized…and that’s considered a quick adoption and with voluntary termination of rights. I’m on a televised interview saying this very statement the day our adoption happened-this isn’t over until the ink has dried. The system can take a long time and it sometimes can not work out the way people hoped. So if those adoptions fall through, make sure to offer support and love after. Nothing is for certain in foster care until the ink has dried.
If you’re looking at ways to help a friend through adoption through a private agency, check out this post at Three Heart Babies!
Any other adoptive parents out there who went through foster care? What did you need from your friends then?