What Adopting a Foster Child is Really Like

There’s nothing like the feeling of finally becoming a parent. No matter how you choose to build your family, you’re in for the journey of a lifetime. But, many hopeful parents wonder, “What is foster adoption really like?”

Every adoption experience is as unique as the people who choose this path. So, there isn’t one clear answer. If you’re adopting from foster care, you’ll love a child with your whole heart, no matter where they come from. And that’s what makes foster care adoption an amazing and fulfilling experience.

Some couples always knew they were meant to adopt a child in foster care. Others may have felt the calling later in life, but are more than ready to help a child in need. If you’re just starting out, you probably have a lot of questions, not just about the process, but also about how it will affect you. If you’re wondering, “What is it like adopting a foster child?” and “How will I feel during the adoption?” Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Foster Adoption Really Like?

Ask any parent who has been through the foster-adopt process what their experience was like, and you will probably get a different answer from every one of them. There are so many factors and variables that go into every adoption process that it’s impossible to give a single answer to the question, “What is it like adopting from foster care?”

However, while every adoption is unique, there are a few common experiences to be prepared for if you decide to take this path. Here are a few realities about the foster care adoption process that every parent should be aware of.

Every State is Different

If you’re asking, “What is it like adopting from foster care?” the answer strongly depends on where you live. Every state has different eligibility requirements and processes for hopeful parents. Some states even require you to become a licensed foster parent first before you can adopt. If you plan on adopting a child from a state that’s not the one you live in, you’ll need to become familiar with their requirements and processes, too.

For more information about what the foster care adoption process is like in your state, reach out to a foster care agency near you.

The Home Study Will be Time-Consuming

Some parts of your adoption process will be the same across the board. For example, regardless of what state you live in, your home study will almost always be the longest part of your adoption, with the exception of the termination of parental rights in foster-to-adopt cases. But, if you have everything in order ahead of time, you’ll have a better chance of a successful adoption.

The home study can cause some anxiety for hopeful foster and adoptive parents, but remember — you don’t have to be perfect! Your home study worker will provide a checklist and help you prepare for a smooth and successful home study. It’s just another step to ensure every foster child is placed in a safe, loving home.

The Wait Will Be Hard

Some foster adoptions move quickly — lasting about 6–8 months. Others, not so much. How long you wait to be matched with a child will depend on several factors, including:

  • Whether you’re adopting straight from foster care or fostering to adopt
  • What preferences you have in terms of a child’s age, race, background and needs
  • The current needs of your state’s foster system
  • And more

The wait time is different in every situation, so we can’t promise that you’ll have a smooth, stress-free experience. In fact, for many families, the wait is one of the hardest parts of being a hopeful adoptive parent, so you’re not alone. Thankfully, there are many ways to cope. If you’re wondering what’s it like adopting from foster care, start by reading real stories from foster parents on how they managed to get through the wait.

Fostering to Adopt Can Be Risky

Foster care is intended as a temporary solution to a family’s situation. This means that many of the children in foster care have a family they’re waiting to go home to, once the reunification requirements are met. For this reason, many foster children may never be eligible for adoption. If you’re planning on fostering to adopt, understand that you could be in for a long wait — and, ultimately, disappointment if your foster child is not able to be adopted.

You Can’t Predict What Will Happen

Parenting is one of the most fulfilling roles you can take on. But that doesn’t mean it’ll always be easy. When hopeful families ask, “What is it like to adopt from foster care?” many of them worry about what it’s like to parent a foster child.

When it comes to foster care, you should be open to any and all situations. The system has a lifelong impact on every child who lives through it. This means that they will have different ways of coping with their new environment if you are able to adopt them. We encourage you to learn everything you can about the types of children in foster care before you adopt.

It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it in the end. Knowing you’re there to support them every step of the way will mean the world to a child in foster care.

Not Everyone Will Understand

Some people unfairly label foster children are “bad kids,” assuming that any child is in foster care is there because they’re a delinquent, aggressive, troubled or all of the above. Absolutely none of that is true. Foster children enter the system through no fault of their own due to issues like abuse, neglect or abandonment, and they deserve as much of a chance to heal and thrive as anyone does.

Sadly, not everyone gets that if they don’t know what foster adoption is really like. They might even try to talk you out of your decision to adopt from foster care. But, if you’re confident in your decision, and you’re undeterred by unsavory opinions, then that’s all that matters. If you are committed to being a supportive, patient and loving parent, a child will be happy just to have you in their life.

Is Foster Care Right for You?

While some parts of adopting from foster care will be challenging, the families who have been through this process agree that it is more than worth it in the end. More than anything else, the best part of adopting a foster child is the chance to finally build a family. Many couples spend years dreaming of what it’s like to hold a child in their arms for the first time. Foster care could be the answer that you’re looking for.

But, this isn’t a process that you can rush. It will take plenty of time and research to learn if foster care is the right fit for you. To learn more about what it’s really like to adopt from foster care and determine whether you’re ready, reach out to a foster care professional today.