Is A “Foster Only” Home Acceptable ?

Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends

When my sons were young, this was a favorite cartoon in my family. Both of my sons had stuffed animals that were imaginary friends and they did mature out of it. In the cartoon, when this happens the imaginary friends are taken into a foster home.

Sadly, though there are MANY foster homes in real life. And there is a lot of abuse in the system. Today’s story is about attitude. A foster parent was posting publicly that she’s not willing to adopt the children currently in her home if they needed that, and that she believes it is totally fine to foster while being unwilling to adopt. I disagree completely because I feel that if a child has no possible route to return to their family and consents to adoption, they should not have to experience another loss, another transition etc. Basically I feel like foster parents need to be open to what the child and their family end up needing, and that taking a placement of a child KNOWING that if reunification cannot be achieved you will be disrupting that child, is wrong.

Obviously there are special situations (a child not wanting to be adopted by you, a child needing to move to be in an adoptive home with their siblings) but that’s not what this lady was talking about, she was talking about having a child in foster care long term, them needing an adoptive home, and refusing to be that home for that child resulting in their team needing to search for other options for them. I also feel like this happens a lot to kids who have (or are perceived to have) challenging behaviors, or older kids, so it’s not like they have all these other great options if an adoptive home is needed because most people who adopt waiting kids in foster care discriminate against kids with behavioral needs or older kids.

Basically, do you think being a “foster only” home is acceptable ?

And now some comments and perspectives.

ALL foster homes should be foster only when reunification is still on the table. Too many foster carers foster for the wrong reasons and sabotage renunciation. We need to go back to the old days when foster homes weren’t even allowed to adopt. Foster parents should be willing to give a child a safe place for whatever amount of time is needed, whatever the outcome. They’re supposed to be part of the team that helps the natural family work through it all. Foster only homes result in higher reunification rates and successful efforts. Eliminating foster only homes would feed the predatory foster to adopt system. No child *needs* adoption. Generally adoption is for the adults. Children need stable homes, but not the erasure of their genetic identity.

From an adoptive parent’s perspective – Why is adoption the end goal? Why can’t they remain in foster care? Why does termination of parental rights have to happen? It’s plausible to think that not having adoption available would reduce terminations and potentially give parents more time. But Child Protective Services is so quick to be done with cases and push adoption that parents aren’t given a fair chance. Very few terminations are actually needed. Maybe the state needs to help make it easier for kinship to take kids. Provide them the money foster carers receive. Why are you so set on adoption being the end result? I think that’s something you need to sit with. There are so many other options. And we can’t just settle for termination and adoption. Without adoption being in place parents rights can be reinstated later down the road if the child is still needing permanency. You feel like it wouldn’t be good for the kid, but several former foster youth have stated the exact opposite.

There was offered this example from real life – a person who has fostered 3 babies/toddlers in the last 3-4 years. They were not reunified with their parents. One went to an extended family member. The other two were placed for adoption through Child Protective Services. This person has 5 children of her own. Three are still at home. She doesn’t want to raise another child for 18 years. But she does feel strongly about providing a safe place for children – while their parents work their plan. Her position is hard for some to understand. People ask her how she can “just give them up after 8 months or a year in her home” and she simply says – “they were never meant to be here forever.”

What It Costs

A few days ago, the New York Times had an article titled What I Spent To Adopt My Child.  Sharing some statistics, facts and excerpts today.

Each adoption process shares the same ultimate purpose: to unite children who need families with those that want children. Yet, despite this common goal, the price tag of adoption in the United States varies widely.

The cost depends on what path you choose: If adopting through the public foster care system, your total out-of-pocket expenses can be next to nothing. If you hope to adopt a newborn, however, the cost can reach $45,000 or sometimes higher if you’re adopting from outside the country.

There are two main paths to adopt an infant in the United States: through a lawyer, often referred to as an “independent adoption,” or through an agency. An independent adoption can cost $15,000 to $40,000.  My youngest sister chose through a lawyer.  Some of her living and medical expenses were covered by the adoptive parents.  Prospective parents are responsible for finding a birth mother.  My sister received several packets from hopeful adoptive parents and shared them with me for my own impressions about her choice.  Her choice was always her own and she always knew she was going to surrender her baby from early on in her pregnancy.

My other sister’s surrender went through an agency.  When adopting through an agency, costs can vary by state, ranging from $20,000 to $45,000.  The cost covers organizational, legal and medical expenses. And all agencies operate differently.  It is up to the prospective parents to carefully review what is and is not covered in their rate prior to signing with any agency.

One same sex male couple in this article who adopted a 9 year boy out of Foster Care comes the closest to one of the better outcomes.  Older children in Foster Care need loving and stable homes more than most of the infant adoptions (which are primarily due to financially unsupported mothers).  This couple recently celebrated 14 years of marriage.  Seems stable enough to me.  One of the partners in this relationship is an adult adoptee.  When asked to total the out-of-pocket expenses this couple allocated toward their adoption, one said, “At the risk of sounding glib — gas money. Otherwise, nothing. No processing fees, or surprise $1,000 bills here and there, and that’s very typical of the foster care experience.”

You can search the NY Times for this article.  I’ll even give you the link – What I Spent To Adopt My Child.