There are many ways a family can grow, and two of those ways are through adoption or foster care. With adoption, the goal is for the child to find a permanent home. With foster care, “[the goal is to] offer a child a safe, family environment while their biological parent(s) do what is needed to achieve family reunification,” says Andra Martinez, vice president of communications and development for Children’s Bureau in Indianapolis.
The thought of bringing a child into your home, whether through adoption or foster care, can be exhilarating, and can also raise a number of questions. You may be wondering if you are ready to welcome a child into your family through adoption, or if foster care may be a better option for you.
What to Consider When Thinking About Adopting
“Adoption is another road to parenthood,” says Meg Sterchi, one of the founders and executive director of Adoptions of Indiana. “It’s not second best, or the last resort. Adoption isn’t always the right option when you’re struggling with infertility. Being able to separate being pregnant from being a parent can help. It’s important to allow yourself to grieve what might have been, so you can open your heart to what can be.”
When thinking about adoption, Sterchi suggests considering how important it will be to understand and respect your child’s birth history and birth family, and have an open heart toward your child’s birth family.
Sterchi says that when thinking about adopting with a partner, you and your partner will both want to move forward with adoption or fostering only when you’re both ready. “If one person isn‘t ready, you shouldn’t proceed,” she says. “Give them the time they need to decide if it is right for them, too.”
The Steps to Adoption
Take time to consider the right type of adoption for your family, and do your homework. Most agencies offer free consultations to help you understand their programs and process. It will become clear to you which program best fits your family.
Also, you will want to be sure to look for an agency that provides strong services to expectant parents and birth parents long-term, and who believes strongly in adoption education and support for adoptive families.
The Foster Factor
The foster licensing process can take a long time and require a decent amount of paperwork, according to Kris, a foster mom and blogger for Children’s Bureau, who breaks down the process of getting a foster care license in her blog, Kris’ Corner: childrensbureau.org/news/kris-corner-it-takes-so-long-to-get-licensed.
However, the process is worth it, as foster families are greatly needed. “Foster parents are needed in Indiana,” Sterchi says. “Reach out and learn more about the foster programs in your community. It’s important to have a strong relationship with your agency so you know you’ll receive the training and support you will need ongoing.” Sterchi recommends talking with other foster parents, and joining a foster parent support organization. Having these resources will help you as you navigate foster parenting.
Adoption and foster care can be a wonderful opportunity for you and your family to grow. There are many resources, and support systems, available for parents who would like to learn more about this option for their expanding family.