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.