Foster Parenting: The Forgotten Piece in the Adoption Debate

joy, dance, abandon, retreat, attitudes

joy, dance, abandon, retreatHave you ever considered foster parenting? In the recent debate about adoption, why did the debate focus only on expensive infant adoptions? Why don’t we do more for these kids who have had a hard life? These questions – except being a foster parent as a priest – keep coming up in my mind.

In the past week, there has been some debate about the new tax bill removing the adoption tax credit. Many pro-life organizations such as the Susan B. Anthony List opposed removing this credit. SBA List stated: “This important tax credit helps tens of thousands of families each year offset the steep costs of adopting children.”

Yet there are 126,000 kids in foster care waiting for adoption. Adopting them only costs $0-2500 according to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. That isn’t that steep a cost: thus far in the debate, the cost of an adoption most commentators use has been $35-40K. That $35-40K is accurate if an adoption is an infant adoption and/or a foreign adoption but those aren’t the only types. Let’s look at how we can help foster kids: both where they are and in finding adoptive parents.

I fell into examining this by accident this week. An old friend fostered a teenager a few years ago and was considering adopting the teen but in the end, didn’t do so. I thought I had the perfect story to show how money can be an obstacle to adoption. Thus, I sent her a Facebook message asking if she’d share the testimony anonymously. I hoped I had this angle… until she said that in her jurisdiction the government pays all fees related to adoptions from foster care.

When I went back to look at our messages, I saw something else. She invited me to look deeper at foster parenting and foster adoptions as an option for families. I want to share her testimony while maintaining her anonymity.

My Friend’s Story

My friend and her husband, “Both dreamed of having a big family but struggled with not being able to get pregnant so we prayed that God would give us children, we knew God had a plan.” God didn’t provide a child by natural means. So, “We prayed about it and decided we would start with fostering and see where that led us. That led us to foster a beautiful girl who even though due to circumstances we were never able to adopt we love her and cared for her as our own.”

The circumstances why they didn’t adopt are a little complicated. For the sake of maintaining the anonymity I promised my friend, I can’t go into detail.

This foster mother explained her relationship with her foster daughter in the way proper to a mother describing her child. “She has shown us how to give love unconditionally and that every child has a story and that every child wants to be part of a family.”

Another comment she made brings out the need for fostering by good families and adopting foster children. “It is something we [she & her husband] both took for granted – the feeling of belonging to a family – and we are happy to say that our daughter feels very at home in our family.”

The Statistics

I could quote many stats on how poorly foster children end up to show how serious this issue is. By age 24: 25% have been homeless, 6% have a college degree, only 50% have gainful employment, and 60% of young men have criminal convictions. That’s right, a young man coming out of foster care is 10x as likely to be a criminal as a 2-year college graduate.

Yet, 80% of 16-year-olds aren’t adopted, leaving them to end up in these statistics.

However, in the case of my friend we have a foster child who beat the curve. She lives on her own and attends college, yet still comes home to visit. Even though never legally adopted, she feels family most with this couple. She had bounced around in foster care for a bit when she was young. However, eventually, she stayed with this family for a few years and found her family.

I conclude with the same words this friend finished her testimony with. “There is always the fear of the unknown when adopting or fostering a child but in all honesty, there is the unknown when giving birth to a child as well. If it has ever been in your heart I invite you to pray about it with your husband or wife, I guarantee it will change your life for the better.”

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4 thoughts on “Foster Parenting: The Forgotten Piece in the Adoption Debate”

  1. Yes Foster parenting is a virtuous call that has the potential to do so much for the healthy upbringing of children of all ages. There are some foster parents who themselves should be canonized for the love they bring to those so desperate for it. Then there are those who do so much damage, even causing deaths, that make people cringe (like myself) to hear children going into foster homes. There must be tremendous support services for the child and the foster family when times turn too difficult to handle in a rational and loving manner. However, like every good in this world there is the horrific side.

  2. Pingback: Foster Parenting: The Forgotten Piece in the Adoption Debate – Fr Matthew P. Schneider, LC

  3. Pingback: THVRSDAY CATHOLICA EXTRA – Big Pulpit

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