Breaking the myths about foster child adoption

Thousands of foster children are taken care of in families across the country, and some foster parents may want to adopt.

There are over a hundred thousand children in Colorado and across the country who are desperately in need of a stable, loving adoptive home. Many of these kids, unfortunately, do not have this luxury for numerous reasons. They might have been orphaned, or were the victims of abuse or neglect. They may have developmental or physical problems that their biological parents were unable to provide for. For whatever reason, those who decide to provide for the permanent needs of foster children are undertaking a vital role in these children's long-term wellbeing.

For many foster families, the bond of love and trust that is formed is so strong that foster parents consider adopting. This can be a confusing process for foster parents, since myths abound on the topic.

Common foster child and adoption misconceptions

The following statements on foster child adoption may seem discouraging for foster parents when they hear them, says AdoptUsKids.org. Fortunately, these myths can be easily discredited. These include:

  • Most foster children are teenagers-Children of any age may need the care of a foster parent, from infanthood to the late teens.
  • All foster children have special needs or are "problem children"-Some foster children are born with special needs, but others may have ended up in foster care because of neglect or abuse. Regardless of whether someone thinks a child has problems or not, all children need and deserve love, patience and compassion. Oftentimes, families may be eligible for adoption subsidies in order to mitigate the barriers associated with adopting a special needs child.
  • Foster parents have no rights - in Colorado, as well in many states, foster parents do have legal rights that may enable them to advocate for the children in their care, including pursuing a legal adoption.
  • Foster parents cannot adopt the children they care for-Perhaps one of the most misleading myths, this one is simply not true. 51,000 children in the foster care system were adopted last year alone. More than half of these were adopted by their foster parents.

One additional myth that well-meaning friends and family may perpetuate is that foster parents wishing to adopt must be wealthy. Quite the opposite: Adopting a foster child is often cost-effective and many resources are available to help. Families who adopt from the foster care system may not only be eligible for an adoption subsidy but may also qualify for an adoption tax credit.

Helping a child adjust to foster care and adoption

Not surprisingly, getting used to a new home and family can be frightening and even traumatic for a foster child. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises that foster parents allow children time to adjust to their new surroundings. Children usually thrive with routine and structure but this can take time, especially if the child suffered from years of mistreatment. Knowing when to involve outside help, such as therapy, is essential.

The rewards of patiently and lovingly creating a safe home for foster children can be great. Children who are given the chance to grow up with the security of a foster or adoptive home are given the tools for a healthy adulthood.

An attorney can help

During the adoption process, foster parents will doubtless have questions and issues that can be addressed by a compassionate attorney who is experienced with adoption and foster care.

Keywords: foster child, adoption, family law