Research indicates that children spend an average of two years in foster care. Some, however, wait far longer for adoption. Currently, 100,000 children remain in foster care. Sadly, persistent stereotypes keep many parents from providing a home to foster children who so badly need one. In reality, adoption from foster care can be a rich and rewarding experience; parents simply need guidance and support.
The initial transition is critical; the following best practices increase the likelihood of success.
Don't Expect an Immediate Bond
Skyrocketing levels of oxytocin closely bond parents and their children after birth. With foster children, relationship building takes longer. Foster children may have grown attached to (and been separated from) multiple adults over the years. Some will naturally be wary of a new parental figure. Be patient; this bond will develop with time. Likewise, don't beat yourself up too much if you don't experience strong feelings for your new child right away. Provide the quality care this child deserves and appreciate the small blessings he or she brings to your life.
Children crave the familiarity of routine. The more structure you can provide in an uncertain time, the better. When possible, retain healthy patterns from foster life. When did your child eat or nap? Where did he or she attend school? Slowly develop additional routines as you transition to a new normal. This will provide a much-needed buffer during an abrupt transition.
Keep Your Frustrations to Yourself
You're bound to encounter frustration as you navigate the adoption process. Don't share these with your adopted child; older foster children are especially attuned to dissatisfaction from the adult figures in their life. Children may falsely assume that you're annoyed with them, rather than the process in general. If necessary, find an outlet for venting such as therapy or a support group.
Attitudes towards foster care adoption are changing; a 2017 U.S. Adoption Attitudes survey reveals that 80% of first-time adoptive parents would consider adopting a child from foster care. The better you understand the process and its potential complications, the easier a transition the new child in your life will enjoy. Legal support is invaluable as you help your child transition to a new family and a new home.
Seek counsel from our Fairfax family lawyers at DiPietro Law Group, PLLC. We are one of the area’s most trusted adoption resources. Call us at (888) 530-4374, or fill out an online contact form here.