Adopting From Foster Care: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Foster Care Adoption

Foster Care by definition is meant to be temporary. When I started fostering it never occurred to me to think about adoption. I was loving a child born to another mother and I would do it for as long as they needed. Temporarily. In the interim. 

My mindset was always on the temporary. But in 2017 that changed when I adopted from foster care. There’s good, bad, and ugly when it comes to adopting from foster care. It’s such a bittersweet moment. It’s a beautiful story of redemption, yet still the plan was never to have families split apart.

It’s also full of pain. I would love to wrap up our adoption story with a pretty little bow and tell you there is such joy all day every day. But that would be unrealistic.

The reality is in March of 2015, I opened the door and saw a scared, fragile, wounded, and traumatized 14 month old little girl who had the most beautiful blue eyes. She came from a hard place. Yet, she had a family. She left behind toys, clothes, favorite things. I wasn’t her savior. I was not swooping in to rescue her. I was just there to love her. I was her temporary home and that is how we lived for 8 months. Just the two of us. In the temporary. 

And then I got a phone call. Her sister was born and she needed a temporary home too. Yes! Sisters together. I was her temporary home too.

And for 2.5 years from that first “yes” in March of 2015 that is how we lived and loved. In the temporary. I walked alongside their first mama. I cheered her on. I sent pictures to encourage her to keep fighting. I rooted for her more than anyone! 

I got frustrated at times. I got angry at times. I begged for answers and clung to my faith. The temporary started to fade away and the permanent plan started to unfold. Temporary was no longer on the table.

My girls’ mom, who I had spent 2 years praying for, believing in, and fighting in the trenches with was unable to do what was needed to make sure our girls would be safe and cared for. She stopped fighting because the list was daunting. Her hope had faded. 

Temporary faded away and after 2.5 years adoption became part of our story. I would like to say I wasn’t scared and nervous about saying yes as a single mom, but that would be a lie. I was terrified.

Even though our daughter who is now five came to me at 14 months old and all of her firsts were with me, her trauma was real and it was evident it would be something we had to work on. Something that would need our attention for the rest of her life. Even though I am the only mother our three year old knows, at just three days old I picked her up from the hospital, another woman carried her in her womb for 9 months. That is not lost on me. 

And the questions. What would I say when they eventually asked me about her? How would I tell them she just couldn’t do it? How will I ever convey to them that she loved them more than anything and when she relinquished her rights she knew she was giving them something she longed for, HOPE? How would I ever reconcile that I couldn’t do enough?

Foster care by definition was meant to be temporary. At times it is, but sometimes it’s not. Adoption from foster care is beautiful, it’s messy, it’s broken, it’s hard, it’s joy filled, and heartbreaking. It’s good, it’s bad, it’s ugly. Yet, all of the good, the bad, and the ugly are what make it perfect. I couldn’t imagine my life without these two girls. 

I couldn’t imagine not hearing their laughs, their silly stories, their
“I love you’s!” I couldn’t imagine not watching them grow and experience all of their firsts. The first day of school. The first lost tooth. First words. First steps. First time at the beach. First family Christmas. I couldn’t imagine our life without the memories we have made and those that are to come.

Yet, another mother is living her life without all of this. That’s the beautiful and messy part. That’s where they meet. So we keep praying and we keep believing. We hold onto the good and we celebrate her selfless sacrifice of not only giving them life, but of realizing they needed more than she could give. So she did what mothers do- she sacrificed herself for their well being.

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