Deciding to adopt or foster a child is a major decision. Opening your home and adding a new member to the family dynamic is a BIG thing to do.
You should never rush into a decision to bring a new child into your home. Have a long talk with anyone involved as you figure out if you are ready for this incredible journey. We have shared some key topics to communicate on to know if you are able and ready to move forward.
Be open and honest with each other as you talk through this decision. All parties need to be in agreement to make sure harmony remains in the family dynamics. Can your finances support an additional member to the family? Do you have the extra time to give to the child as they transition into your family life? Remember, many have been in traumatic situations and can be coming to you in a fragile state. If married or with a partner, this makes it very important that both of you are dedicated to adopting or fostering a child, otherwise ongoing arguing will likely erupt between you. Although the joy is immense, raising kids is hard work and sometimes exhausting! Ask yourself if you are physically, mentally and spiritually prepared. Once the adults involved are on the same page, it’s time to talk to the kids you already have (if applicable) and see how they feel. As you guide them through these discussions, make sure to really listen to them. Be prepared for mixed emotions from them, they need to know your love for them won’t diminish by adding a sibling, whether short term through fostering or permanently through adoption.
If you decide you CAN do this, then the next step is getting ready for it. Prep your home, your financials, your current family, and everything else you can to be ready. Remember you won’t be able to prep for everything and IT IS OKAY IF YOU START FEELING NERVOUS AS YOU DO THIS. You wouldn’t be the first and won’t be the last to feel nervous about bringing in someone new. Even if you have done this before! As you prepare, just remember what you are doing, that you know you can do this, and how you are making this child’s life better.
After you know you are able and have prepared yourself, the next step is to start the process as soon as you can. This process can take months unfortunately, but then can become very spontaneous if things line up quickly at the same time. If it does take a long time, keep your spirits high! Something will happen as there are many children who need help – 424,000 children in the foster care system; all told, there were a total of over 672,000 children in the system at some point in 2019.
With such large numbers, that means there are a lot of children out there in need of a warm, loving place to stay, even if it is only a few months as a foster home.
We would love to give you a specific time on what is right for you, but it largely depends on your situation and how long the process takes. Whether it is in the winter, summer, spring, fall, during the holidays, or in any location; children are looking for help! It could be to escape the cold, the heat, hunger, poor living situation, or other problems they face.
Remember, it’s okay to be nervous and even a little afraid. Honestly, it would be more strange not to feel these things when making a choice like this. Embrace the excitement and allow yourself to be hopeful and proud because you are doing a wonderful thing.