Becoming a Foster Parent – An Overlooked Road to Adoption
DECEMBER 26TH MARKED THE TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE ADOPTION OF OUR DAUGHTER. We chose to adopt our second child through foster care in Hennepin County Minnesota. If you use the state system in Minnesota, you adopt where you live. While it might not for everyone, we think adopting a baby or child through foster care is an option that is overlooked by too many looking to grow their family.
EVEN BEFORE WE WERE MARRIED, WE BEGAN EXPLORING ADOPTION. My wife did the research and we attended orientation sessions and individual meetings with agencies. We considered both domestic and international. We also attended a meeting through the state of Minnesota’s adoption program.
AFTER OUR MARRIAGE, WE HAD OUR FIRST DAUGHTER NATURALLY. It went well for us, but we were still interested in growing our family through adoption and specifically through foster-to-adopt. We went to the foster program orientation offered by Hennepin County. It was a three hour session that described the program.
WE CHOOSE TO ADOPT THROUGH FOSTER CARE BECAUSE WE LEARNED IT WAS VERY LIKELY WE COULD ADOPT A BABY AS LONG AS WE WERE WILLING TO BE FOSTER PARENTS FIRST. There are many older children in the program. Virtually all of them have suffered from some degree of abuse and/or neglect and we were moved by their stories. However, we wanted our second child to be younger than our first.
WE LEARNED THAT MANY BABIES, AS WELL AS OLDER CHILDREN, CAN BE ADOPTED IN FOSTER CARE. Our concern, like many others who choose to adopt through foster care, was that we would get too attached to a child only to have it removed from our home. Or that a child would come to us with more challenges than we could handle. We talked it through. While we wanted to do it, and ultimately chose this option, the conversations were difficult. We simply weren’t sure how we would handle things if they were more challenging than we anticipated.
OUR STORY IS PROBABLY UNIQUE. Our daughter was placed with us only one week after we were licensed. She was 3 months old. The birthmother did not show interest or was not able to partipate in visitations. No family members were both interested and eligible to parent her. We were able to finalize the adoption before she was a year old.
OUR DAUGHTER TURNED THREE IN JANUARY. It is hard to overstate how much joy she brings us and how grateful we are that she is in our lives. She is a fantastic sister to our oldest daughter. I anticipate that they will have typical sibling and sisterly struggles, but I hope they provide a lifetime of friendship, comfort and support as well.
AS A FINANCIAL ADVISER, I THINK MANY PEOPLE MIGHT BENEFIT FROM UNDERSTANDING THE FINANCIAL ASPECTS AND PROCESS OF FOSTER TO ADOPT. There was virtually no cost for us to become foster parents. However, we had to apply, which took a few months. Once this was completed, we had to go to what amounted to about 40 hours of training. All of our training was classroom style in Hennepin County during evenings and weekends. It was a long month. We had to arrange care for our daughter, so there was some cost for this.
ON THE OTHER HAND, CONVENTIONAL ADOPTION CAN BE EXPENSIVE. It can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. International adoption, which can be difficult and very time consuming, appears to be even more expensive. Also, like many things in life, there is no guarantee of success.
WE RECEIVED COMPENSATION FROM HENNEPIN COUNTY WHILE WE CARED FOR OUR FOSTER DAUGHTER. It amounted to roughly $650 a month. In addition, we also received WIC (food stamps) each month for food and other basics for our daughter. Also, and this is very important, we received a significant dollar for dollar tax credit.
FOSTER CARE IS A REAL OPTION FOR PEOPLE LOOKING TO GROW THEIR FAMILY. It worked out well for us and many others. It is not without its challenges and uncertainties, but so is much of life. It can be a wonderful option for those concerned about the costs of conventional adoption. Do I need to mention what this can do for a child??
PLEASE CONTACT ME DIRECTLY IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS CONSIDERING ADOPTION AND WOULD LIKE TO KNOW MORE. I would be happy to share our story and answer their questions.