The Myth vs. Reality of Foster Care Adoption

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Fact_vs_Fiction

Okay, school’s back in session and I’ve decided to talk about some of the myths people have about Foster Care also known as adoption through Children’s Aid, Children’s Services and/or, public adoption. A lot of people have some serious misconceptions about what Foster Care is and how it works. When people ask me about it, they’re quite often surprised that what I share with them usually isn’t what they thought it was at all. With so many people misunderstanding what it’s all about, it undoubtedly prevents some potential adoptive parents from considering Foster Care, and in turn, prevents so many beautiful children from finding their forever families. So here are some of the common myths and truths, about public adoption.

MYTH: All forms of adoption are extremely expensive, and therefore, you have to be financially capable of footing these costs.

TRUTH: Foster Care is the cheapest form of adoption. There are very few costs involved in adopting through the public system. The only costs you will incur are the cost of police checks and the cost of a medical report, if your doctor chooses to charge you at all. Some doctors will not charge, or will at least lessen their fee if they know the report is for adoption purposes.

Even the cost of the homestudy and PRIDE training (which are both required in order to adopt), are covered through the various Children’s Services agencies throughout Canada. Some choose to pay for these themselves in order to speed up the process, or to pursue various adoption options. They will pay an adoption practitioner to perform their homestudy which costs on average $2000-$3000. The cost of PRIDE training is on average about $1500 per couple, or half that if you’re a single person looking to adopt.

If choosing to foot the bill for a homestudy and PRIDE, you are still usually under $5000, which is still far less expensive than private domestic adoption which averages $10-$20000, or international adoptions that can range anywhere from $20-$50000, or more.

MYTH: Children in Foster Care are there because of something they did.

TRUTH: Children in care are there through no fault of their own. Sadly, they have no control over ending up in care, and equally sad is that they usually enter care due to abuse, neglect, inabilility of their biological parents to parent them, or in some instances, even through the death of their parents.

MYTH: Children in care are considered special needs due to severe physical or mental illnesses.

TRUTH: The truth of this statement is that all children are indeed special needs. But the definition of special needs does not refer to health issues. All children in care have special needs solely due to their life experiences that put them in care, whether it be a child that was abused, or siblings who lost their parents. Special needs just means they need adoptive parents who are dedicated to loving and helping their children work through what they’ve been through.

MYTH: All the children in care are “unadoptable”; having severe behavioral isssues, medical or mental issues, rendering them undesirable and unadoptable.

TRUTH: There are no “unadoptable” children. There is a parent or parents for every child in care. All children have special needs, and some do need higher levels of care than others based on past experiences and health issues. No child deserves the label of “unadoptable”, and every child deserves to find their forever home.

MYTH: It’s easier to adopt a healthy child, through private adoption than public.

TRUTH: Many pre-adoptive parents assume that because they choose the private route to adoption, with a birthmother who chooses a birthplan for her child, they will receive a healthy newborn. The reality is, that a birthmother may not be honest about prenatal care or indulging in drugs or alcohol during their pregnancy. Also, like any birth, there is the possibility a child can be born with health issues or learning disabilities, despite the birthmother doing all the right things for her child in utero.

MYTH: Biological parents of children in care are all drug addicts, alcoholics, abusers, etc.

TRUTH: As mentioned earlier, not all children who enter the system are abused or neglected. Some children lose a parent or parents to death, and sadly do not have family available to adopt them. Other parents are unable to parent their children either due to mental capacity, mental or physical illness.

MYTH: Biological parents of children in care don’t love their children. This is probably one of the biggest myths surrounding Foster Care children. Most people when told this, can understand that children of parents who have mental illness, may be very loved, but their parents are incapable of providing proper care for them. They don’t doubt their parents ability to love their children.

Where the myth is harder to disprove is when you’re talking about an abusive parent. Now there are no doubt rare instances where children are victims of parents who are incapable of love or empathy. But for the most part, even parents who have abused or neglected their child, still love them. They may not have shown it through their treatment of their children, but in their own way, they do love them.

MYTH: A biological parent can come back and decide to reclaim their child.

TRUTH: Children in care who are available to be adopted, are available because their parental rights have been terminated by the courts. Once a parent’s rights to their child have been legally terminated, they do not have the ability to come back and try to regain custody of their child.

MYTH: Older children and teens in care are already set in their ways and behaviors resulting from their past experiences. This makes them more difficult to adopt than say a toddler.

TRUTH: There are unique challenges with any age of child, adopted or not. In the case of children in care, there are a lot of advantages to adopting an older child.

Toddlers do have memories, just as older children do. However, unlike older children, they do not have the mental capacity, nor the capability to process and grasp those past experiences and the process of adoption. They also don’t have the ablility to express their emotions verbally, which often offers up it’s own set of challenging behaviours.

Older children may have been shaped by past experiences and have more life experience. However, an older child can express and process their emotions surrounding adoption. You are able to converse with them about what they are going through and verbally reassure them. This is not to say that older children are less challenging, but that the challenges they present can be managed differently.

MYTH: In order to be approved to adopt, you have to meet a lot of stringent criteria. You have to be financially successful couple, who have a large, beautiful home in order to be considered acceptable.

TRUTH: This is so not the case. Single, divorced, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transexual, and older individuals can be approved for adoption. You don’t have to be financially wealthy, or have a large home. You just have to be able to demonstrate that you can financially care for a child or children, in a loving home, and provide them with the emotional support they need.

MYTH: A lot of Foster Care children don’t want to be adopted.

TRUTH: Children in care just want a loving home with a loving parent or parents they can call their own. They want to live in a home that isn’t temporary. They want someone to tuck them in at night, and someone to see them off to school in the morning. Someone to be there for all the big moments, and the little ones. Someone who’s there for them through thick and thin, who will love them no matter what. They’re no different than you and me. We all want to be loved, so why wouldn’t they?

These are just a few of the most common myths, but unfortunately there are many more out there. And I know that if any of you who are reading this are already parents of children adopted from care, you’ve heard ’em all. I’d be happy to have others share their experiences with misconceptions. The more myths we can dismiss the better. These kids need people to know that they’re just as deserving of love as any other children out there waiting to be adopted. And potential parents need to know that they don’t have to be perfect to be parents. One of my favorite quotes is from AdoptUsKids.org:

You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent. There are thousands of kids in Foster Care who will take you just as you are.

I think that pretty much says it all. ❤

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