Adoption from foster care myths stem from legitimate concerns. While children are in foster care because they have been abused or neglected, they are no different than any other child and need a family to give them the love they deserve.
When it comes to adopting from foster care, most people want kids who are under the age of two and who have no siblings or special needs. The children who are waiting for forever homes rarely fit into any of those desired categories, but the truth of who they are may convince prospective adoptive parents to open their hearts and homes.
Adoption from Foster Care Myths: Most Foster Kids Are Delinquents
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, 50% of people surveyed believe many children are in foster care because of their bad behavior. This is one of the most common misconceptions – foster kids are delinquents.
In reality, children are not in foster care because of what they have done but because of what has been done to them. They are in no way to blame for the harm that has come into their lives. They are victims of undeserved treatment, but with your help, they can overcome the past and move towards a brighter future.
Adoption from Foster Care Myths: I Don’t Know How to Care for a Special Needs Child
There are children in foster care who are considered special needs, but this term is not only used for those who have extreme physical, mental and emotional challenges. Within the child welfare system, this also includes foster kids who are older, from a specific racial background (e.g., African American or American Indian) or a part of a sibling group.
If you adopt a child from foster care who needs special medical attention, you’ll have access to health care, such as physical therapy and counseling, that will encourage his healing. For example, if he has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, there are resources available like therapists and medicine to treat his condition.
Adoption from Foster Care Myths: There’s Only a Handful Waiting to be Adopted
Another common misconception is there are not a lot of children who are waiting for adoption . According to AdoptUsKids, there are more than 100,000 children in need of forever homes. That’s a far cry from the small list of children you may see online.
Because the number of children in foster care is high, it means a lot of kids have suffered mistreatment. There are people like you who can provide them with what they need and assure them that love doesn’t hurt.
Adoption from Foster Care Myths: I’m Not Financially or Emotionally Qualified
Private adoptions can cost tens of thousands of dollars. If you are adopting from foster care, in most cases, the cost is covered by the state. There are also post-adoption services that can benefit your family (e.g., counseling and therapy). You may also receive a monthly adoption subsidy that can help offset the ever-increasing cost of raising a child.
However, adopting from foster care costs something money can’t buy. It costs your time and requires you to be nurturing, loving and ready to take on the challenge of raising a child. You must also be willing to advocate for him and work in partnership with everyone involved in his life (e.g., biological family if applicable, caseworker, etc.). It is an emotional investment with a promising profit of a successful future for you and your child.
During the process of adoption, pre-service training will prepare you to take a new child into your home. After adoption, there is support available for you with access to information that is specific to adoptive parents.
Adoption from Foster Care Myths: I’m Just One Person – I Can’t Make a Difference
Challenges will arise and every day will not be a ray of sunshine. But let’s face it, whether you are biologically related to your child or not doesn’t determine good days from bad.
As you transform the life of your child for the better, yours can be changed as well. And who knows – you may have the opportunity to raise a future teacher or doctor who will have a positive impact on others. It only takes one person to affect the lives of many.
To learn more about becoming a foster or adoptive parent in New Jersey, visit Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS).
For more information about the foster/adoption process nationwide, visit AdoptUsKids.
Salendria Mabrey is a Communication and Development Associate at Foster and Adoptive Family Services.