Our decision to foster instead of pursuing adoption was not easy, but several factors helped us choose this path for our family.
A Personal Decision
I want to start by stating that decisions like family planning, adoption, fostering, and parenting are all extremely personal. Everyone brings unique contexts, resources and convictions into important decisions such as these.
Correy and I had many discussions before landing on the decision to foster. We knew we wanted to expand our family, but accepted the primary goal of fostering was reunification. Adoption wasn’t a guarantee.
The decision we made is specific to us, however my goal is to provide the factors we considered for our journey.
I’ve shared a little about my experience with infertility and that adoption was something I felt would be a part of my story. When Correy and I were faced with the reality that biological children may not be an option at all, it made the weight of our options heavier.
Adoption alone has so many different paths to choose from. However, when it was time to take the next step, there were some things that stood out to us that caused us to pursue fostering instead.
Experience with the System
The nature of my job put us face to face with the foster care system on more than one occasion. During my time at Big Brothers Big Sisters, I have a distinct memory of sitting in the kitchen of a parent for one of our Littles. She had her daughter removed from her care and placed in the system. This parent was an absolute wreck and as tears poured down her face she asked me to read a court document she had received and didn’t understand. She loved her daughter deeply but was lacking the support and resources to do what she needed to do. My heart broke for her and the experience brought foster care to the forefront of my mind.
While also in that role I encountered child safety concerns that made me question the system and its decision to not get involved when things seemed obviously wrong. The experience exposed me to the ways the system was broken and ways I could help by getting involved.
Another factor was our community. We shared our desire to foster and had a specific heart of keeping sibling groups together, but we had a lot of things to get in place before we could move forward. We received so much support as we made preparations, but we were absolutely blown away when a generous donor shared they would be giving us a donation of $30,000 to purchase a home that would allow for the space we needed. Our community continued to show up regularly as we prepared the home, made an Amazon wishlist that was completely purchased more than once, and shared our hearts. While this community would have shown up for any path we chose, we felt particularly prepared for the ongoing support we would need as a foster family.
Culture of our Home
The culture of our home was another huge factor that drew us to foster care. My husband works for Off the Wall Discipleship, which comes with a very life-on-life way of pouring into young adults. By the time we were deciding on fostering, we were used to our lives getting “disrupted” on the regular. We had a personal conviction against worshiping our own privacy and allowing a true “our door is always open” type of culture. While there is no preparation for many of the ways foster care affects your life, we felt it aligned with the culture of our home that you are always welcome and we will love you in your mess.
The final primary factor that led us to fostering was the practical but important role of money. Over the years, we have supported numerous friends on their adoption journeys. We knew from conversations how expensive adopting can be. I was working at a nonprofit and Correy raises his own support for his job. we had always been tight on money and since we were passionate about our jobs that wouldn’t change anytime soon.
We had a great community which I have no doubt would have helped us make an adoption happen. However, we felt a conviction to take that support and pour it into a fostering journey. The investment into our home and getting our license felt more cost effective. We would potentially touch the lives of dozens of children through foster care instead of one child through adoption. In our context, this made the most sense for us.
Choosing the Right Path
There are many factors that went into our decision, but ultimately these factors led us to the decision to foster. Each factor is unique and therefore it’s impossible to give blanket advice on what is right for someone else. Overall, we knew that fostering wasn’t a guarantee for adding children to our forever family. For anyone weighing these options, know there is no right or wrong choice. Your decision to bring a child into your home is a gift regardless of the path that brought them there.