Short on time, so borrowing this from a thoughtful person in my all things adoption group.
Hopeful foster parents, hopeful adoptive parents, and even current foster parents and adoptive parents often say, they “just want to provide love for a child who needs it.”
Let’s talk about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maybe you’ve heard of it. When was the last time you gave it any thought?
Each level of the hierarchy builds on itself. This means that until a person has their most basic needs met, they can’t achieve the next level of actualization.
Look at the pyramid in my image. See where “Love/Belonging” is on that pyramid ? And consider that when you’re saying you “Just want to provide love for children in need,” what else is missing ? I would add that the word Love is ambiguous – I love steak – for example. “Love” really has no clean definition.
People FIRST need their physiological needs met. This means they need healthy food, clean water, and somewhere to dispose of their waste in a sanitary way. How often do the former foster care youth try to report that these physiological needs weren’t met by their foster caregivers ? More often than you might want to believe. I have even read about foster parents who keep their refrigerator door locked or even some who prevent the foster children in their homes from accessing hygiene products.
Love doesn’t matter if the physiological needs aren’t met.
“Safety” is next, before love. The traumatized brain has a difficult time processing safety because the traumatized brain enlarges the size of the amygdala, which processes stress and sends signals to the hypothalamus, which produces stress hormones, which then results in the shrinking of the hippocampus, which is where every human being processes happiness.
Until you can provide for the physiological needs of a child, and for their need for safety and security, LOVE isn’t even a factor.
So why don’t you focus more on what the child’s traumatized brain needs the most ? The security and safety of family ties — i.e. family preservation, whenever possible.
Provided the biological parents are capable of providing for the physiological needs of their child (or ask yourself: Could they provide for the physiological needs of their child WITH YOUR HELP?) and can they provide for the safety and security of their children, which means they are not physically abusive. Do they have stable housing (ask yourself also, can you help them find stable housing) ? Until these are provided for the child, your LOVE is meaningless.
Focus on providing for the basic physiological needs of the child, then on their safety, and that will lead you back to ensuring that their PARENTS have the tools they need to provide for their child, if at all possible. If they CANNOT, then YOU must provide for those needs before LOVE ever becomes a factor.
Stop talking about what you think is right, and learn what’s ACTUALLY needed, if you truly “care”.
Love isn’t enough. It’s the middle of this pyramid.
Many adoptees cannot reach the level of “esteem” because their trauma has not been addressed and even with therapy, will likely be with them, whether they are conscious of it or not, for their entire lifetime.