There are so many ways to become an adoptive family. Foster care is just one of the choices that you have. Every year, the need for loving parents for children in the foster system only grows stronger, and you could be the family a child is looking for. Many of the children in foster care are already eligible for adoption and are just waiting for a permanent family to call their own. But what about the children who aren’t ready to be adopted, but are still waiting for a safe, stable home?
Understanding the great need for foster families, many hopeful parents wonder, “Should I foster before adopting?” The truth is that this can be a great way to help a child in need, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re reading this article, you’ve likely spent some time wondering about your options when it comes to foster care. Should you adopt an eligible child, or should you take on the role of a foster parent first? It’s only natural to start looking for information on becoming a foster parent to adoption to decide which option is best for your family.
Pros of Becoming a Foster Parent to Adopt
There are several advantages of being a foster parent to adopt. In fact, some states even require hopeful parents to become licensed foster parents first before they can adopt from the foster system. These are just a few of the reasons why fostering first can be a great idea for families wondering, “Should we foster to adopt?”
Becoming a parent sooner:
Parents who choose to foster first have the chance to make an impact in a child’s life sooner, even if adoption isn’t in the cards quite yet. The need for foster homes is great, which means hopeful parents may receive a temporary foster placement very quickly. While this placement may not necessarily end in adoption, gaining experience as a parent gives you the skills needed to become a better parent for your future child.
Building a relationship:
Fostering first means that you’ll have the chance to bond with a child, an experience that you’ll have to wait on in other types of adoption. For some parents, fostering can be the first step to building a lifelong relationship. If it’s safe to do so, you also have the opportunity to build a relationship with your child’s biological family.
Shows your readiness to adopt:
Having experience as a foster parent also gives you a leg up when making your case for an adoptive placement. Having a history of successful fosters can help make a stronger case for your adoption — and, in the event that your foster child does become eligible for adoption, you as the foster parent will likely be given the first opportunity to adopt (outside of any biological relatives).
Of course, these are just a few of the advantages of fostering before adoption. If you’re asking, “Should I foster before I adopt?” remember to do plenty of research before making a decision.
Cons of Fostering to Adopt
While fostering to adopt is a great way to build a family, it does come with some setbacks.
Generally, becoming a foster parent to adopt is one of the riskiest ways to build a family. As you may already know, foster care is intended as a temporary solution until a child can be reunited with their biological family or a permanent home is found for them. Most children who enter foster care are eventually returned to their biological families, which mean a foster parent may never have the opportunity to adopt their foster child. If you’re fostering a child when their biological parents’ rights have not been terminated, you could be in for a long wait.
Some foster parents have waited as little as six months to adopt, while others could end up waiting as long as two years (and still others may never have the opportunity to adopt their foster child). Every case is different, so the answer isn’t cut and dry. If you become a foster parent, you must be prepared for the strong possibility that your foster child will be reunited with the biological family. We know that it’s painful to experience the joys of parenting only to have your foster child returned to their biological parents. But part of becoming a foster parent to adopt involves supporting reunification, even when it’s hard. When you’re considering whether you should foster before adopting, it’s important to stay realistic about the process.
Please remember that this doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to adopt just because one placement doesn’t work out. Not every foster adoption is meant to happen, and most of the time, it’s for reasons out of your control. No matter how long it takes, always remember that your dreams for building a family can come true. Keep your home and your heart open, and the right placement will come in time.
“So, Should I Foster Before Adopting?”
You are the only one who can answer this question. While there are many advantages to becoming a foster-to-adopt parent, there are some challenges that you should consider. If you have any questions about your options, remember that you can reach out to an adoption professional or a foster care agency to learn more about which option is right for you.