Adoptions Possible, Finances don’t have to stop us!
Recently I’ve had a couple opportunities to talk to families interested in adoption but the cost factor has been such a strong drawback along with not knowing where to begin.
Usually they want to know about my story and how we did it so I’m writing this blog to help others get the details on how this works!
I have friends who want to adopt but the cost can be shockingly daunting when you find out that it costs $20,000-$30,000 domestically and $40,000 internationally. But it is almost completely free to adopt through the United States foster care system.
In 2004 my husband and I had a pre-marriage talk about the importance of adoption for both of us, we both knew we would adopt a child as a part of adding to our family.
We wed on an unusually warm New Years Day in Hampton, VA our alma mater state. Surely, Happily Ever After was our destiny, but it was delayed. 12 years delayed.
Of course, didn’t moap around for 12 years carrying the burden of infertility like a huge load on our back, but we did feel the impact of it deeply.
Why weren’t we getting pregnant?
After multiple surgeries and a lot of research we did give birth to a precious baby girl.
We settled ourselves into the rhythms of new parenthood.
It was time for a break from crazy doctor visits, unanswered questions and the most spiritual of people telling us, “We don’t know why this is happening.”
It was time to move forward.
We were dropped from our home study after two failed adoptions and one never fully pursued. We were dropped out of the system to bond with our baby and this was absolutely ok with us.
What we didn’t see coming was the opportunity to adopt a precious baby boy.
And that was amazing!
Today I don’t want to share his story because it is his to share, not mines.
I want to tell you about the “system” we were dropped from and what I learned while trying to sort through adoption.
But before I do that, let me tell you how much of a need is here for people like you and me to give, our home, our finances, a helping hand into children’s lives.
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, as of 2016 there were an estimated 437,465 children in foster care.
273,538 children entered foster care that year.
The good news is 250,248 exited the system that year. But there is still a large number of youth in the system.
44% of these youth are white, 22% black, 21% Hispanic, and 10% other races or multiracial.
And the median age is 7.8 year old.
Sure, that’s a lot of facts and I get it…But I want you to get a picture.
There should not be this many children in foster care. Also, as an African American woman I would be remiss to bring up the fact that minorities are represented in foster care at disproportionate rates considering national demographic representation.
In short, I am learning people are afraid to adopt through foster care due to one word: TRAUMA.
Unfortunately, foster care children have been given a bad rap. They have been seen as troubled or “bad” children.
What do the words “special needs” bring to your mind?
Probably not the best images.
And yes, all children being adopted, even from birth have been through trauma. The separation of a child from his biological mother is severely traumatic.
But some of these children do not have major behavioral issues. Some of them are given the label “special needs” simply because they are in a sibling group, over a certain age or they’ve been in foster care over a certain amount of months.
With adoption, love is needed but it is not enough in any case. Education and training prepares us to be adoptive parents and to help children still in the system.
Spiritual Responsibility & Race
Fortunately, we are in the middle of an adoption movement thanks in much to organizations such as Focus on the Family’s Wait No More Campaign. We are seeing children be adopted out of foster care bit by bit.
But I’ve also seen the after effects of adoption. There is a lot of cultural sensitivity talk whereas a lot of these children are of African American decent moving into all white neighborhoods with white parents who do not understand their culture hence cannot fully understand who they are.
Many of these parents don’t know the effects of this going into it with a positive view, a heart to give and a Scriptural backing to what they are doing. But they may or may not be educated on how deeply race effects a child’s life and self esteem in America, including having a representation that looks like them.
This is creating layers of trauma with our adopted children.
Oftentimes kids do not even realize the effects, as many of us don’t with childhood trauma, until they become adult adoptees.
Christians are getting a bad rap due to these subconscious biases and the lack of training. But there is still a Scriptural mandate to care for the orphan and widow.
The Big Question is not should we do this, but how can this be done well?
I love that the very act of trying to adopt cross-culturally forces us into working through compassionate, personal awareness of racism in America and the humble stance or learning from one another- beyond trying to save the world that is in need of our help.
We have to take a humble stance if we want to help in the best way possible.
We have to listen and learn from minorities if we want to win our children’s hearts and help them heal fully.
In my opinion, it is impossible to separate foster care awareness and racial healing in our day. It truly matters how the larger minority community feels when we adopt their children.
Where to Begin? Heal the System
In order to heal the system, our involvement is needed. Maybe you’re not called to adopt from foster care but what a great opportunity to become a mentor, give to a foster family, ask what their needs are.
Maybe you can give clothes, food, offer to babysit? Maybe you can bring an adoption specialist from an adoption agency or a social worker to your church to share stories and stats.
Maybe you can look into ways to mentor at a group home by contacting your county children’s division office.
And finally, maybe you can become one of many parents who foster to adopt.
When I first started I didn’t know where to begin. I started researching, asking adoptive parents questions, joining online support groups and getting as much information as possible.
I found various adoption agencies online and government websites with listings of many of the children in foster care.
That looks like you researching children that are in need of a home through your states government. Even those photo listings are controversial to some because of the children’s privacy but it is a start. You can “meet the children” online, learning a little about their stories and even watching a video.
But after talking to adoptees and hearing their stories I would caution to do it because you want to love them, not out of a position of simply wanting to save them from their unfortunate plight.
As with any of our kids, we soon learn there’s a lot we can learn from them and being a parent too.
There are also groups like The Heart Gallery of America who advocate for these precious children and help meet their needs. If you want to adopt our help out contact them.
As you take the first steps towards adopting or helping those in the process you will get clarity.
But fear causes us to procrastinate or sometimes never make those steps. Not knowing where to begin does too!
Did you know adoption agencies also help people adopt from foster care? Many times the government fees are absorbed and you don’t have to pay out of pocket.
You can simply contact a reputable agency and they can help you navigate home studies needed to place children in your home.
If you are approved, the child will be placed in your home after a very detailed selective “match” system based on what you feel is best.
(I will give you a heads up that is is rare to find a newborn baby through foster care. Most children will be at least 2-3 year is age and oftentimes a part of a sibling group.)
They stay in your care for at least six months and if everything goes as expected you then appear in court to finalize your adoption!
And just like that you became the part of the solution more than a social media rant or talking about the crisis could ever do! You have won the war over a child’s life but more than that, you are blessed to be a parent to someone who will be a blessing to you in more ways than imaginable.
Only two weeks in, to date, and we already feel that way about our precious baby boy!