Fostering and Adoption: How to Decide if You Should Do It
Kevin EastKevin East is the President of The Mentoring Alliance - a ministry dedicated to mobilizing godly people into the lives of kids and families, to provide tangible help and eternal hope. You can find more articles written by Kevin at his blog, "Following to Lead". Connect with him on Twitter at @kevinteast.
- 2012 Feb 28
"How did you make the decision to do this?"
This is the question I hear the most from people when they find out we foster kids. Most of the time, it is well-meaning people who are agonizing whether or not fostering/adoption is for them.
Months ago, I wrote about all the freedoms we gave up as a family once we began fostering. But just as I said then, I'll say again now; I'm so glad we are doing it. God is teaching us all what it means to be the body of Christ.
I've heard of many types of people hoping to foster or adopt. Just the other day a retired couple asked if they were too old. They wanted "in". They're going for it, fostering some little children who are all too eager to know what a safe family feels like.
I know 2 or 3 single girls who are going through the process of getting licensed right now as well. For them, they weren't content waiting on the sidelines as life passed them by. Sure, there are some nuances they will need to figure out, but I love them stepping into the fray.
So if you are old (85 or older) or single, I can't relate. But for all of you who are married, and maybe have a child or two, I'm speaking directly to you. I don't know how you will make the decision, but here's how we made ours:
1. We determined if there was a need. When we were dating, my wife told me she wanted to adopt someday. Honestly, I replied, "why?" I had only heard how people waited for years to adopt. I didn't understand why we would stand in their way. After looking into the facts, we were amazed at how many kids are in need of adoptive homes.
Keep in mind, the kids who are old enough to understand the Hell they live in would love anything better. What I thought about, though, was how many of these homes would also model the love of Jesus and tell these kids about a Father who doesn't abandon.
2. We considered if we were suitable. We had already had kids. Was our quiver full? I fully believe that God calls me to lead and shepherd my family first. If something was to hinder me in doing that, then it wasn't good for us. After much discussion, we realized it wasn't hindering our family, but helping it.
Race was also an issue for us. In talking to a Child Protective Services (CPS) employee, I asked her - a dark skinned African-American lady - if a white family fostering or adopting a child of another race was bad for the child. She thought about it and then responded, "it's better than the alternative." She explained the alternative was that the children wouldn't be cared for, and would "bounce" through the system, eventually ending up in jail.
3. I considered if my wife could handle it. My wife is a "Jedi mom," as some call her. In our family, we have chosen for Steph to stay home with the kids and for me to work outside the home. I knew if we took on another child, this would be a big strain on her. It was important to me to make sure we were considering how this addition would impact our ability to raise our other kids.
4. We analyzed our finances to determine if we could afford it. Adoption is expensive. International adoption is even more. We knew if we were going to do this, God would have to provide. I have watched countless videos about how God did just that with so many people. If you didn't see my post last week, then I would encourage you to watch this video of a friend of mine sharing his adoption story.
Sure, adoption is expensive, but fostering isn't. In fact, the state pays you a small stipend each month for being foster parents. Believe me, wives, this might be the "hook" you need to share with your husband. I don't care how they get there, and if them knowing that about the stipend helps, so be it.
5. We prayed about it, as a family. Our oldest was 4 at the time, so we didn't expect a big debate about it with our kids. However, including them in the process has been so rich to see. They are learning what it looks like to seek God in decisions like this one.
No, we didn't hear an audible "yes" from God, but we didn't sense any reason not to as well.
Adoptive kids have killed their parents in the past. I know. Plenty of people told me that as we began to walk down this road. But you know, many people have died in car accidents, yet I continue to drive.
Adding children to your family is a big decision, and shouldn't be taken lightly. However, don't be that person or family who endlessly needs to "pray about it." Such an excuse - although sounding good and holy - is merely a diversion tactic.
What questions do you have? Or what questions did you have answered before you went down this road?
For more blog posts like this on leading, following, parenting, fostering, and family, visit Kevin's blog at www.followingtolead.com.