Last week I wrote a bit about the difficulties of adopting from the foster-care system. It was mostly a vent about the judgments that people have for adopting internationally . . . but I worry that I sounded like I was discouraging people from adopting through foster care. Though I do believe that it is a difficult process that needs massive reform, I also believe it is totally worth the hardships and inconveniences.
I cannot sugar-coat it. The process was very difficult for me personally. I don’t know that I can ever adequately describe what it was like to raise Jafta as my own son for three years and wonder every night as I put him to sleep if he would stay in our family. It was an extremely painful and stressful time in our lives. As a new mom, that cloud of worry affected how I learned to parent, and caused me to detach in many ways. I am still working hard to overcome some of the parenting habits I developed during that season in order to cope with my fear of loss. Adopting in this way not hard out of inconvenience. It was so much more than annoying social workers and intrusive home inspections. It was emotionally traumatizing.
But, as Rebecca commented:
“As for the process being “excruciating,” yes, it is hard to love kids and then potentially lose them when a bio family member is found. I have lived through that! It is HARD, but you are told from the very beginning that is a possibility at any point up until finalization. One of the “costs” of fostering for me is being willing to suffer loss (on my part) in order to provide a loving home for a child in need, whether they stay a few weeks or forever. If your primary concern is finding the easiest way to grow your own family, no, you probably shouldn’t try to adopt through foster care. There is nothing easy about being a foster parent, and these kids need people who are willing to put aside their comfort and advocate for them.”
And as K said in this post:
“Personally, I just don’t believe that “because it is hard” is a good reason not to do something. I want to be honest about the foster care system – sometimes it will suck. Sometimes it will feel like it is not really working. Sometimes you will say goodbye to kids you are completely in love with. But it is what we have to work with here in the United States and I really believe the best way to reform the system is good foster parents. There are many but we need a lot more and abandoning the system does nothing.
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:35-36 ESV)
If being treated poorly and dealing with incompetent people is what needs to be done to prevent a child from being one of the 19,000 who age out of the system every year, it is worth it.”
I believe this with all of my heart. It IS worth it. It sucked, and it left scars, and it was worth it. Much like pregnancy and childbirth. Building a family is never easy.
I stumbled upon this post on the evening of Thanksgiving, a day we had spent enjoying our family and counting our blessings. It rocked me, and hearing similar stories had been the inspiration for us adopting through foster care in the first place. I thought about this post all day on Friday as we spent the day celebrating Thanksgiving . . . as I watched Jafta revel in the love of his family, as we cheered him on riding scooters and chanted his name as he got his dream of a pie in the face. Campbell’s words haunt me, and break my heart:
“I spent every thanksgiving as an outsider. I observed. I sat quietly and watched families enjoy the time they had together and studied them. I would watch my foster family interact with each other–every one grazing on appetizers, hanging out and enjoying each others company. This is what family is, I thought. I want this. I want to be part of this. Will I be here next year? Will they be my family next year? Do they remember my name?
Thanksgiving is a day that reminds me that I’ve never had that kind of connection. It reminds me of what I’m missing. It reminds me that I don’t have family. It reminds me of all the Thanksgivings I cried myself to sleep overcome with desire for family, stability and tradition. It reminds me of how different I am from the average American. It reminds me of how undeserving I am of family.”