How To Find An Adoption-Friendly Doctor For Your Child

Finding an adoption-friendly doctor for your adopted child isn’t that different from finding a doctor for your biological child. Many parents prefer a recommendation from a trusted friend–myself included! But it’s still a good idea to interview potential doctors and ask some adoption-specific questions.

Adoption can come with many unknowns, especially when it comes to limited medical histories. At the time I interviewed our pediatrician, I wasn’t sure how much medical information we would receive. Ask how the possibility of not having your child’s medical history would be handled. Or, if there is information available from your child’s birth mom’s pregnancy and labor, would they be willing to take the time to go through it with you?

If you are adopting a newborn, you might want to check to see if you will be supported by your feeding choices. Maybe you’ll want to formula feed your new baby, or maybe you’ll be using donor breast milk, or maybe you’ll be inducing lactation for adoptive breastfeeding–or even a combination of these choices! Can your child’s doctor offer any support or resources to assist you? Our pediatrician’s office offers formula samples and free lactation consults.

I was also curious to know if there were other adoptive families seen at the practice; it gave me an idea how familiar our pediatrician was with adoption. Even though I personally didn’t need her to be familiar with adoption, if she was, I could feel confident that she would use positive adoption language, and be sensitive to my son’s emotional needs. However, if she wasn’t familiar with adoption, it would have been an opportunity to help educate the practice.

While sometimes it feels like your child’s doctor knows best, the reality is that your child’s doctor works for you. So, find a doctor that fits your family’s specific needs. A good doctor will respect your choices and be willing to help you navigate potential problems along the way.

How To Be A Single Foster Parent

How To Be A Single Foster Parent

I am on the computer. Two of my three kids are through the shower and the third is yelling because the hot water is gone. One is pounding on the piano, last minute practice before lessons tomorrow. It’s 15 minutes past the little one’s bedtime and I rushed her so she’ll probably be back up shortly. Their homework is done but not checked by me tonight. I have an article to write, instructing people on how to be a single foster parent.  I have only a little time, tomorrow there is work early. I wonder to myself if I am the wisest choice to create this piece.

I am a single Mom who fostered then adopted a sibling set of three. Being a single foster parent is a journey like no other. I have a plaque that reads “You are my greatest adventure” and this truth cannot be over exaggerated. It is a bumpy road and there are no clear signs or directions, but the view when glimpsed is breathtaking. When progress is made, a barrier broken, love visualized…there is nothing that can compare to the feeling of making a difference and changing a life.

The first thing to be done once you have decided to become a single foster parent is to immediately tune out those who believe you can’t or shouldn’t. Memorize this paraphrased quote: Courage is not the absence of fear, but the determination that something is more important than fear. You will be afraid, you will doubt, and you will question your sanity. As singles, we believe we can accomplish anything. Cling to this. We are not unlike the little engine in the children’s story. Do not let the big fancy engines scare you; your ability is just as great and your purpose equally grand.

In the process of preparing to foster, develop strong boundaries. They will be tested and you must be prepared. Know what you can/cannot handle. If you have strict work hours, it is difficult to care for a child with behavioral issues requiring regular intervention at school. If you have not processed a sexual trauma in your past, you will struggle to help children work through theirs. These are not weaknesses, they are who you are. There will be children you can help, you will not be able to personally save them all and you do them a disservice by not being honest with what you are capable of.

Get a village! You are going to need a tribe. Fostering is the most humbling experience of my life, and I discovered I quite literally could not do it alone. From the stranger in the church parking lot who took my hand and led me in, to the sitter who appeared with her giant planner and quelled the chaos of my life, to the dear friend who permitted me bonding time with each child by watching the other two, I would have been dragged under the water long ago were it not for those who magically surfaced to help me stay afloat. My family was my lifeline, but had it not been for the village, I would have drowned.

The loneliness will be real. Friends will not comprehend why you won’t have a shower because for the children it’s not a happy event. People will be more interested in your kid’s “story” than who they are.  Trying to explain the importance of reunification, your empathy for their mother, and how much your heart hurts for their “other” family will feel futile. Parents will attempt to rationalize how it’s “kids being kids” after a long night of perpetual dysregulation including verbal and physical abuse. The sitter will laugh as you try to explain the level of structure required for your children to feel safe. Your children will be different, and it will often feel isolating. Know that you are not alone; there are support groups, books, classes, online alliances to listen and understand.

I am often asked, “How do you do it by yourself?” My response is, “How do you do it with someone else?” It’s akin to asking an engineer why they aren’t an artist. My way is the only way I know and it works for me and my family. It is our experience. Perception is the reality, proven by my daughter’s recent question. She thoughtfully asked, “Mom, I know that I want to adopt children when I grow up…but I was thinking that I might want to have a husband too…” My response, “Honey, you are totally allowed to have a husband and still adopt.” Take the risk, go on the greatest adventure. You can do it!

 

Beth Ellen is a single mother who recently left the medical field to pursue a career in writing and public speaking. She has adopted a sibling set of three from the foster care system and has become quite passionate about helping parents and children survive and thrive in this tumultuous environment. When she is not being a personal taxi service for her kiddos, she is working on interviewing other parents and writing her book Ain’t a Saint. She can be reached through her http://adoptionaintasaint.com/.

50 Things I Think About Foster Children

Things I Think About Foster Children

Foster children are so many things. Whether you foster parent, know foster parents and their kids, or have some other connection to foster children, you know that these fifty things about foster children are absolutely true. Read through this list and then share in the comments what you think of when you think of foster children.

 

They are beautiful.

They are loved.

They want to be loved.

They need to be loved.

They want to feel connected.

They want space.

They feel vulnerable.

They want to feel safe.

They are funny.

They love their family.

They need you to love their family.

They want to feel free to miss their family.

They want to know you are there to stay.

They want to feel normal.

They want to play.

They want to sit.

They want to laugh.

They want to talk.

They want to be quiet.

They want to be loud.

They want to be calm.

They want to be rowdy.

They want to have fun.

They want to engage.

They want to listen.

They want to be angry.

They want to be happy.

They want to be sad.

They want to cry.

They want to share their feelings.

They want to keep their feelings to themselves.

They want to throw things.

They want to scream.

They want to run away.

They want to hug you.

They want to trust.

They want to pull away.

They want to lie.

They want to speak the truth.

They’ve seen horrible things.

Endured horrible things.

Lived horrible things.

They want to learn.

They want to succeed.

They want to love.

They are tough.

They are independent.

They are dependent.

They just want to be free to be themselves.

They just want to be children.

 

Have you thought about adopting a foster child? Or perhaps just being a temporary home for foster children? The blessings and challenges will be endless, but there are many resources available to help you. Be sure to check out the other articles on this website and also on Adoption.com/Foster. Never underestimate the difference you can make in even one child’s life.

6 Pieces Of Advice For Fellow Foster Parents

6 Pieces Of Advice For Fellow Foster Parents

As a foster parent, I have some pieces of advice for you fellow foster parents–be you new to fostering or a seasoned veteran. Us foster parents have to stick together and learn from each other. Be sure to share in the comments what other advice you would give to foster parents.

1. Stand Firm and Know Your Limits

“One boy age 5 and up” was what we told the state when we were first licensed to foster. However, we got several calls for sibling groups, girls, and children outside of this range. Most of the time, we said yes. I could not stand the thought of saying no to a child needing a home. But I came to realize quickly that you should only take what you’re comfortable with. Because as great as being able to take any child, it isn’t a plausible reality for many families. Knowing your limit and standing firm on what you think will best fit in your family will save you and the child(ren) from heartache.

2. Get to know other foster families

One of the biggest things that helped my husband and I when we started fostering was having a support system. When I say a support system, I do not mean your family. I mean someone who is walking the same path and dealing with the same issues. They will be there for a shoulder to cry on as well as respite care.

3. Have Low Expectations

All–yes, I can say confidently ALL–foster children come with a troubled past. This troubled past, even as newborns, can have lasting effects on them mentally and physically. Do not think because you are getting a 10-year-old, they will mentally be 10. Most foster children are much younger in their behavior but have been exposed to things that surpass their age.

4. This is Not About You

So many people will say “These children are blessed to have you” or “You are going to change this child’s life.” THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. You will give a child a safe home and maybe love them for the first time, but nothing about their story is a blessing. You will change their life, but they will change yours more.

5. Have tough skin

These children have been hurt and lied to. Many of them have been abused. Often times, they do the same to those who love them. By having tough skin and loving them through it, you will prove to them they can trust you. You ALSO need a tough skin for those people who do not understand foster care. People will make crazy comments and ask questions that are none of their business. You will need to be tough and tell them so.

6. Go all in

Get attached. Love the child(ren) until it hurts. If you can care for a child like your own and not be broken-hearted when they leave, then foster care is not for you. Every one of these children needs you to be their advocate, cheer them on, and love them like they are yours forever.

8 Things About Foster To Adopt That I Learned

8 Things About Foster To Adopt That I Learned

Ten years ago my husband and I entered the world of foster care with the hope of eventually adopting a child. Our caseworker explained the process to us and we knew that there was no guarantee that we could keep a child, even though foster to adopt was our dream. Here are some of the things we have learned about foster to adopt:

1. You can fall in love with a child in a heartbeat.

2. You will not always agree with the decisions CPS makes. In fact, I think it is safe to say that you will often feel they do not have the best interest of the child in mind when they make decisions. We had to learn it is our job to love and nurture the children who came into our home, not to make decisions about their futures.

3. Love is not enough to heal the hurts a child has experienced prior to coming into care. Adoption will not heal that hurt.

4. A child will naturally, especially as he grows older, remain loyal to his birth parents, regardless of the trauma that made it necessary to remove him from his parents.

5. You will need to learn not to feel threatened by that bond between birth parent and child, even though you are now her parents.

6. Every child in care has a Guardian Ad Litem. This person makes decisions for the child. This person can be a great ally.

7. Sometimes you have to make decisions for which there seems no good answer. We had to say no to an infant who was a sibling to two of our children. I wanted that baby because we had his brothers, and I felt it would be best for him to remain with them, but also I knew there was no possible way I could care for them, including the little girl we were in the process of adopting.

8. You can never spend too much time rocking the baby or child who has come into your home. When a child is placed with you he deserves your full love and attention while he remains in your home. Even if he returns to his birth parents or goes to another home, the time and effort you put into him will never be wasted.