So many questions come when people learn that we have children we have fostered and then adopted. So much undue praise. So much confusion. So many good intentions. So many ignorant comments.
When we began foster training, many of our preconceived notions were corrected. Previous biases were uncovered, and our thoughts and language about foster care and adoption was permanently altered. Because we have changed, it is now hard to remember which thoughts were ours before and which we have simply observed from other people, but here are a few examples and the revised thinking to go with them:
False: Foster families have some sort of superhuman ability to love kids without getting “too attached” and are therefore different than the rest of the population.
Truth: Foster families are REGULAR people.
False: Foster parents are special and closer to sainthood than the rest of the population.
Truth: Foster parents are REGULAR people.
False: Kids are placed in foster care when their parents don’t want them.
Truth: The vast majority of parents want what’s best for their kids but some are incapable (for various reasons and for various periods of time) of providing a safe and nurturing home.
False: Kids are placed in foster care when they are troubled or have behavior issues
Truth: Kids are placed in foster care when their parents are unable to provide a safe and nurturing home and while these kids do often have struggles that result from the trauma they have experienced, they are not “bad” kids.
False: Parents whose kids end up in foster care are awful people.
Truth: But for the grace of God, that could be me, or you.
False: “Real” parents are the ones kids are born to.
Truth: “Real” people are the kind that aren’t imaginary. Biological parents are responsible for the genetics and birth of a person. Ideally, biological parents also raise kids, but in situations where they cannot, other parents step in. Sometimes these parents are labeled “foster parents”. Sometimes they’re called “adoptive parents”. Sometimes they are grandparents. The reality is, as long as they’re doing the job of a Momma and a Daddy, that’s exactly what they are and no additional labels are needed.
False: “Real” kids are the ones who are biologically connected to the parents.
Truth: All of my kids are real. When I was young, I had dolls and imaginary children, but since adulthood, every single child I have parented has been a real child, really mine, and really worth being valued as though biologically connected.
False: Adoption occurs when exceptional parents take in unwanted or misfit children.
Truth: Adoption occurs when grateful families are blessed to share their lives with amazing, beautiful children.
These are just a few of the things we’ve learned and experienced through our own misunderstandings or the misunderstandings of others. It’s not an exhaustive list. It’s barely even a drop in the bucket, but these are the ones most fresh in our minds, as we’ve heard many comments that closely relate just in the past few weeks. The goal here isn’t just to correct misunderstandings, but to help people see a more realistic view of foster care and adoption. The next post will include more of my family’s personal experience with these misunderstandings and the confusion tied to the world of foster care and adoption, with the hope of helping others.