November is National Adoption Awareness Month! Originally, the idea stemmed from a Massachusetts Governor who wanted to promote the awareness of kids in foster care needing adoptive homes. Most kids in foster care get to return home, but many need forever homes.
What is foster care?
Foster care is an out of home service for families who are struggling to keep their kids safe. Most commonly, kids are placed in foster care due to neglect. Other reasons kids may enter foster care include: physical abuse, incarcerated parent, child’s mismanaged medical or behavioral issues, parent death or illegal drug use. The state removes the kids in order to keep them safe in hopes that the parents can receive services and assistance so their kids can be returned to them as soon as possible with resources set up so everyone in their family can be safe.
Why adopt out of foster care?
There are so many reasons. Here are just a few:
We learned about the need. There are over 2.300 kids in foster care in Milwaukee County alone. Knowing we could live in a neighboring community (within 1 hour) or inside Milwaukee itself and remain foster parents made it possible for us. We wanted to adopt and saw that there was a huge need right here in our community.
It’s AFFORDABLE. So many misconceptions about adopting out of foster care were brought into light when we attended an informational meeting at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services. There is another foster care agency — Saint A’s — which is also great. We learned all about the heart of these agencies: to keep families together. We also learned about the huge need for foster and adoptive families to step in when kids can’t return home for a while or at all.
You will be resourced. Since every kid in foster care is provided with state health insurance the kids have incredible free health care. This includes therapies, medical services, and dental care. When adopting these kids — especially those with special needs — they may even qualify for health insurance post-adoption. There is also a stipend that can help offset the cost of having an additional child in your home. This tax-free stipend is directly related to the child’s assessed needs and services provided.
The kids are worth it. After adopting FIVE kids out of foster care, we have had a lot of challenges and struggles. Our kids have struggled with mental health, trauma, and attachment. There is nothing easy about caring for a child in foster care. But, the blessings of seeing a child grow, helping them understand unconditional, safe love and if you are lucky enough to get to raise siblings together — the rough moments are worth the joy.
Yes. I actually chose not to work anymore so I could stay home to manage the many therapies and services my kids need to thrive. It is a lot of work. All it takes is for a loving person to impact a child’s life in order to stop the cycle. Sometimes working with birth families is so hard. Knowing them has taught me about love, grace and how many people do not have a fair start. We can stand in the gap between their current situation and their forever. Many by fostering. Some may choose to adopt. Either way, the love I have received and the joy I’ve experienced reminds me my kids are completely worth it.
Because I was loved first.
The reason I first fell in love with adoption was because it so closely mirrors God’s love for me — for us. Before I was perfect (still working on that one) God chose to love me and be there for me, long before I appreciated it or reciprocate that love. Maybe you have been lucky enough to have been loved unconditionally and can share that with a child. I hope you have.
While these are the main reasons we adopted out of foster care, there are many others. I have learned more about myself in the past 7 years as a foster and now adoptive mom than I did the rest of my life! I have learned more about forgiveness, grace, and generosity as our friends, family and community have supported us. There has been an incredible sense of belonging and support from the foster and adoptive parents we have gotten to know in the process.