There are many times in life where you might be confident that you are completely prepared for a situation. There are many times in life where you might feel that you have it all together and have everything figured out. However, having adopted twice now, I can certainly say that at least for me and my family, adoption was one thing where I felt unprepared pretty much the whole time. This was true for both adoptions. This was also true for both times I gave birth to my biological sons. Fear and that feeling of being unprepared is incredibly normal when it comes to both adoption and foster care. It is normal in any new parenthood situation. There are so many unknowns that come with bringing any new child into your home. You just don’t know what to expect or what will happen at each turn. It will take a lot to overcome this fear. However, there may never be a time that you feel fully prepared and that is okay. Adoption and foster care are each a journey and both offer quite the ride.
Much of figuring out how to overcome the fear of feeling unprepared or general fear that comes with foster care or adoption will be to do your research. The best way to beat feeling unprepared is to prepare more. You may never feel completely prepared, but you can always get more prepared than you were before. If you are working with an adoption agency, utilize them as much as possible. They likely have many resources to provide and directions in which to point you that will allow you to have a wealth of information and resources. There are likely groups that you can join or classes that you can take to help you feel more prepared and to ease some of your fears. Joining online adoption and foster care groups can also help you to gather information from those who have been there before.
A great option to help you prepare and feel less fearful will be to research and ask questions often and to many places. There is a wealth of information available online. There are fantastic adoption websites such as Adoption.com and Adoption.org. These sites feature multiple articles written by those who have experienced adoption in some way. These can be adoptees, birth parents, or adoptive parents. These writers may also include foster parents for those who have experienced the adoption or foster care process. These articles can offer great information and insights into the adoption and foster care process. There is a wealth of information and advice that is available that will be invaluable through both the adoptive and foster care process. There is also an incredible amount of support and information provided for when your child comes home or when a foster child is placed with you.
These types of sites can also help to alleviate fears by reading more about the process that people have gone through and the different fears that they themselves have had at any point in the process and beyond. There are also forums available on the Adoption.com site that will allow you to ask questions and communicate with those who have been through the process before. These kinds of options can be incredibly helpful to speak with others in similar situations and to vent your concerns. You may be surprised to find a great number of people who are going through or who have already gone through similar fears and feelings of being unprepared.
Another part of overcoming the fears that may come with foster care and adoption is to address the fears head-on. Some of these fears may not even be logical but are still very real for you. For many foster parents and adoptive parents, they may have a fear that they will not bond with their child. While this fear may seem illogical to some, it is very realistic. It is only natural to question this, especially if you are a new parent. I have had two biological children, one stepchild, and two younger adopted children. With all of my children, whether biological or not, it took time to establish a bond. I remember bringing my now 8-year-old son home from the hospital. He was my first biological son. I was not the type of woman who, during pregnancy, felt like she immensely bonded with her baby. I like pregnancy and pregnancy was awesome in general, but I didn’t feel those warm fuzzies like some women describe. I brought him home from the hospital and it felt a little bit like bringing a stranger home. Don’t get me wrong. I loved him immediately, but that bond took a little bit of time to develop.
I remember when I had him home for about four days, it was late at night, and we were up feeding, of course. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon was on the TV and I was groggily feeding my son. It seems like he always woke up during Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. My husband and I would joke that my son only woke up to watch his show. However, this night, I remember looking down at him as I was feeding him, laughing at Jimmy Fallon, and realizing how much I truly loved my son and would lay down my life for him. In that moment, I felt a huge connection with him.
For my children whom we have adopted, they all have similar stories. It was all about a week after they had been home. We had those moments together where I felt like they were at peace with me and I felt at peace with them. I love all of my children the same. Biology did not change that for any of them. However, I, too, held the fear that I would not bond with my children immediately or that it would take longer than normal. However, for me, that turned out to be a fear that I did not need to worry about.
There are many ways an adoptive or foster parent can feel unprepared to take a new child into their home. People may have physical, mental, emotional, or financial concerns that prevent them from moving forward or make them hesitant to pursue the adoption or foster care process. This is why it is important to know what you will need to pursue each process and how prepared you will have to be in each of those areas. Your adoption agency or adoption professional will provide much of this information. You can also research the requirements at both the state and national level for whatever process you are pursuing.
For finances, you do not have to be rich to adopt or to become a foster parent. Many people of all different types of financial status have completed the adoption or foster care process.
There are many ways to fund an adoption and foster care is typically free. However, there are, of course, other financial concerns in the long-term. Will bringing the new child into your home affect your financial health tremendously? Will bringing a new child into your home be detrimental to your family’s finances as a whole? These are certainly things to consider, but definitely things that you could work on. Adoption professionals will not be looking for families with perfect finances. While that is certainly a plus, the adoption professionals just want to see that you are financially stable. This means that you can take on a new child and that it will not affect your life negatively. This means that a child who comes into your home will be taken care of and you have a plan moving forward. Finances can be raised and budgets can ultimately be made. If you are feeling unprepared financially, spend some time with your family discussing your budget and ways to find funds for your adoption process. If you plan to pursue foster care, spend some time looking at how that will affect your budget and what aid the state or county provides in your area.
There may be physical issues that a person has that maybe make them fearful to pursue foster care adoption. These physical issues can be anything from medical issues to simply being of an elevated age. Many of these fears may be valid and make a person quite unprepared to adopt or pursue foster care. However, there are so many types of foster care or adoption that might be available for someone who has health limitations or is of an elevated age. There are thousands of older parents who adopt and foster children throughout the country. For those who feel like they could not take on a new child long term, foster care offers respite care which is a more short-term commitment. If you are older, you may consider gathering information about adopting an older child. There are many ways to still pursue adoption and foster care even with limitations. However, there may be medical issues that you might need to handle before pursuing foster care or adoption and that is okay. Take the time to see if any of your physical limitations would affect your ability to support a child long-term.
While we hope to venture into the world of foster care in the future, there are as many fears about foster care holding my husband and me back from pursuing that process at this time. We worry about how it will affect our younger children. We are also worried about the possibility that we will remain heartbroken when children leave our home. That has always been a worry but has grown less of one as it was in the past. The more interaction we have with other foster parents, the more we see that while our hearts may break, it is more heartbreaking to think of children in need of safe homes that are sleeping in child protective service offices because there are no homes available. We definitely want to take part in that and provide a safe haven for many children. We hope to adopt more in the future as well. However, our finances, our busy lives, and our children make us feel very fearful that we are unprepared for this process at this time. Even though we have adopted children twice now, it is completely normal to still feel unprepared or fearful with each new process. Even those of us who have been there still feel unprepared and fearful at times.
A final way to overcome the fear and the feeling of being unprepared when pursuing foster care or adoption is to reach out to those around you for help. Talk with people within your family and your friend circles about the fears you may have. Talking through your fears may help tremendously to calm them. There are ways that you can be more prepared and there is a good chance that your friends or family may be able to help in that area. Take some time to write down your fears and reservations. Take the time to make a list of pros and cons about foster care and adoption. See if there are solutions to many of the fears and preparations that you can make going forward to diminish the cons. Remember that fears and feelings of being unprepared are normal and fully expected. Take a breath, do your research, and utilize your adoption professionals. They are there to guide you and appease any fears you may have. Spend some time on Adoption.com talking to others in the forums. Search any questions you may have at Adoption.org. The chance is high that both of these fantastic adoption sites will have an abundance of information to help you move forward in the adoption or foster care process. Do not let your fears or feelings of being underprepared stop you from providing a child a safe and loving home!
Visit Adoption.com’s photolisting page for children who are ready and waiting to find their forever families. For adoptive parents, please visit our Parent Profiles page where you can create an incredible adoption profile and connect directly with potential birth parents.
Lita Jordan is a master of all things “home.” A work-from-home, stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five. She has a BA in Youth Ministry from Spring Arbor University. She is married to the “other Michael Jordan” and lives on coffee and its unrealistic promises of productivity. Lita enjoys playing guitar and long trips to Target. Follow her on www.facebook.com/halfemptymom/.