One of the biggest benefits of financial freedom is the ability to spend more time helping other people. Although writing about building wealth is useful and donating money is good, adopting or fostering a child reaches a next level of kindness.
Today's post is from Jillian at Montana Money Adventures. She has adopted not one, but four foster children. People like Jillian are an inspiration. I hope her story helps you better understand the foster care system. I was going to write a post about what I learned at a foster care training seminar I attended, but Jillian's post is so much better.
On my very first date with my husband, I mustered the courage to ask him the one question that would be a deal breaker. “How do you feel about adoption?” His answer was encouraging, so I took a deep breath and asked one more question, “How would you feel about adopting from foster care?”
It might not seem like first date kind of conversation, but I’ve never been one to waste time. I was passionate about being a family for kids who desperately needed one, and any future spouse needed to share that passion. Three years later we adopted our oldest son, a teenager from foster care.
The need for foster/adoptive parents is enormous. There are currently over 100,000 children in foster care available for adoption and waiting for a family to step forward. Over 20,000 of those kids will “age-out” of foster care each year, never finding a forever family, and will go into adulthood alone. They are often ill prepared and lacking the support needed to flourish as adults.
The need for foster care adoption is growing rapidly due to increased methamphetamine use across the US. 10 years ago, most kids removed from their biological families were school aged kids. It was in school that teachers would notice the abuse and neglect. Now more babies are born addicted to meth.
The threshold for removing a child is extremely demanding (unlike 20-30 years ago), but meth addicted babies aren’t able to go home with their birth parents. Because meth is extremely addictive, and drug rehab resources scarce, many of those parents don’t sober up in order to be the parents their children need.
Over the last twelve years we have adopted twice from foster care. Our oldest son, Micah, we adopted when he was twelve. Then two years ago we adopted a sibling group of three kiddos. The two groups of kids who struggle the most to find families are older kids and sibling groups. Those are the kids that pulled on my heart the most. The kids that everyone had passed over, and might not get another chance for an awesome family. (I will use the term “family” but that doesn't mean a married wife and husband. Any adult willing to come alongside these kids is “family,” and the states won't discriminate based on age, marital status, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. And “awesome” doesn't mean perfect!)
There are some common misconceptions when it comes to adopting from foster care. After adopting four kids from the foster care system, speaking to foster-adoptive groups, and my husband's former work of licensing adoptive families for hard to adopt kids, these are the most frequent concerns we have heard.
5 Common Concerns About Adopting From Foster Care
1. The kids in foster care are criminals or bad kids.
There are over 400,000 kids in foster care currently. They aren’t criminals or bad kids. They are in foster care at absolutely no fault of their own. Their biological parents just can’t care for them right now. These kids have experienced horrible trauma, abuse, neglect or drug addiction. Then they were removed from their home, which from an adult perspective is a good thing, but it’s a horrible loss for the child. They just lost everything they know. Their parents, their bedroom, all their toys, their friends, maybe their school. They might have been separated from siblings when the social worker couldn't find a foster family who could take all the kids together. Those things might not have been great, but it was their whole life. They are hurting. They don’t have the words, comprehension, or ability to express all that hurt. They don’t fully understand how to process the trauma they have seen and lived through.
They try to cope the best they can. And often it comes out sideways. Instead of asking for a conversation and hug, they might throw things and yell. Instead of talking about how they are worried about their biological siblings (because it was the 7-year-old who always took care of mom when she was high) they might throw a tantrum.
But it’s one of the most beautiful parts of being a foster and adoptive parent. Slowly, bit by bit, they change. Right before your eyes. As we love them through the behaviors, as we pull them close, as we help them wrap words around the hurt and confusion they feel, they become their true selves. In small moments you see how sweet they are. You discover that they are actually crazy smart and awesome at school. They are funny and witty. They become people who are passionate and sympathetic for others. It’s the hurt, trauma, and loss we see at first. But if we stick with them, and love them through the hurts, we get to see the transformation. Of all the parts of our story, adoption is the most amazing and rewarding thing I’ve been privileged to be a part of.
Do you want a perfect child for your family?
Or can you be an awesome family for a child?
There are about 1000 miles between those two question.
The child you foster/adopt won’t be perfect. They are dealing with a lot. But if you can be an awesome family for a hurting child, that is what they most desperately need (reminder, “awesome” does not mean perfect). A great family could change everything for them. Their entire life trajectory can shift.
2. It’s expensive.
Private adoption is expensive and overseas adoption is expensive ($20,000-$40,000). Whereas, adopting from foster care has very little, if any, upfront cost. You might wait in line for years to get a baby from a private agency. Whereas, the kids in foster care have waited years for you. Because 100,000+ are waiting, and very few people are getting in line for them, the US government has tried to remove as many of the financial barriers as possible to help these kids find forever families.
Typically the government will cover the cost for your home study, training, and adoption filing costs. If your child has ongoing needs, your state might help with that even after you adopt. There are special tax credits for adopting kids the state deems special needs (that could be a child of certain races, sibling groups, those with disabilities, or older children). If you adopt older kids (over 16) they qualify to receive the full FAFSA amount for college despite your income.
The cost to adding a child(ren) to your family is still high. Primarily in terms of time. All kids take time. These kids might need a little extra time. Knowing that I wanted to adopt was a large motivation for striving to create more financial freedom. We have been able to take our 4th and longest mini-retirement while our kids needed us most. Over the last 15 years, we have built up enough passive income to cover all our expenses. It's enabled us to really lean into what is best for our family in each season and only take on work that fits our families lifestyle. FIRE absolutely isn't a requirement to adopt, but it's been a huge help for us while adding a high needs sibling group to our family.
We had very low upfront costs with our adoptions. I would say overall the costs are similar to having biological children. We did buy a minivan ($10,000) and extra furniture ($3000). I left a full-time job ($30-40k a year) for two years before this mini-retirement to be a stay at home mom. Our kids came with 12 appointments a week for the first year!
We also do more planning for the long term costs our kids might have. I have no expectation of them being 100% fully independent and self-sustaining at 18. Very few kids these days are, and that might be even more the case with our kids.
3. The kids might be returned to their biological parents
There are two ways you can adopt from foster care. 1) You can welcome kids into your home whose parents are currently working a reunification plan.
Those parents are trying to make the needed steps to get their kids back. If those biological parents are able to be reunited with their kids, that is the priority. If not, your state would look at other biological family members who could care for them.
Out of the 400,000 currently in care, 300,000 fit in this group. If those first two options aren’t possible, the state would most likely ask the foster parents to adopt the child. That is how we adopted our sibling group of three. Because of their needs and behaviors we were their 4th foster family, which added to their delays and challenging behaviors. The Child Protection Services would prefer just one foster family from start to finish, but that is rarely the case. We were there foster parents for 1.5 years before we were able to move forward on the adoption.
In the past, this could be a very long journey, sometimes lasting 5-10 years. The government finally wised up and acknowledged that isn’t healthy for kids to live in limbo for that long, not knowing where they belong. Now the federal mandate is 18 months. Birth parents have 18 months to work a reunification plan before the courts move towards terminating parental rights. It doesn’t always go quite that way, but it’s closer to that timeframe now than in years past.
Or option 2) The other 100,000 kids who are just waiting. Their birth parents rights have been terminated and they are free for adoption. No other biological family was a healthy fit. Now they wait. And hope. For someone to step up and take a chance on them.
You can see profiles of many of the waiting kids on Adopt US kids plus all the information to get started as foster/adoptive parents. It’s often easiest to adopt kids from your own state, but you are legally able to adopt kids from anywhere in the country. This is how we adopted our oldest son. He was already available for adoption. We lived in Virginia and he was from Nebraska. The federal government mandates a six month trial period, where we were his foster parents, to make sure it's a good fit for everyone. After that, we were able to officially adopt him.
4. There is a waitlist like with private adoption.
The need for foster-adoptive parents is overwhelming. Unlike private organizations, the states aren’t allowed to discriminate based on religion, gender, marital status, orientation, etc. They are just looking for awesome people. It doesn't matter if you're single, gay, young or old (although you have to be an adult, over 21 in most states).
The process is invasive and long. The first step is to contact your local child protection agency and get signed up for classes. After you finish the classes you will go through background checks, overly personal questionnaires, a million rules, and constant delays. The need is great, but they want to make sure you are qualified/prepared to be an awesome family.
It also takes far longer than it seems it should. Between your first phone call and a child arriving at your home, it could be anywhere from 6-18 months.
The foster care system is overwhelmed right now and funding is always tight in social service agencies. If you are adopting in order to have an amazing experience in the approval process, well, that won’t happen. You will meet some of the most amazing people on Earth. Dedicated, hard working, passionate social workers who have given their life for this cause. But they won't have time to return a phone call. Just FYI.
5. It will end badly and it’s not worth the risk.
I once heard that 30-50% of people consider adopting at some point. In reality, only 2-4% of Americans ever do. I think the gap might be due to not really understanding the process/options/ or how to start.
And fear. Mostly fear.
What if it all goes wrong? What if I’m not up to the task? What if the kid is horrible or dangerous or ruins our family? What if they don’t love me? What if I don’t love them? What if they go back to their biological family and my heart breaks so much that I never recover?
We fear the worst and are paralyzed by it. There is risk. But there is always risk in anything worth doing.
My best advice: Do your research, ask good questions, stay open minded, and just start the process. Calling your local Child Protection Service office isn’t a forever commitment. Signing up for the classes isn’t a forever commitment. Looking at the kids on Adopt US kids doesn’t mean they are moving in tomorrow. It’s a long process. So if you really are interested and feel like you could be a family to a child, just start.
And if everything goes wrong…you can’t waste good.
Our first adoption had the worst ending that I could imagine. At 20 years old, our oldest son died. He was Type 1 diabetic when we adopted him. Diabetes, along with his behavior, educational delays, and emotional problems were the reasons he struggled to find a family. Eight years later that disease took his life due to a case of mild food poisoning.
After eight years of being Micah's mom, I had to bury my child. I had to write his obituary and pick out songs for his funeral. It was the worst possible ending to our story. The grief and sorrow nearly crushed me.
But you know what? I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. For eight years I got to be Micah's mom.
Through all his struggle and challenges, I got to watch him grow into a strong, compassionate young man. He was better for having been part of our family, and I was definitely better for being his mom. I grew just as much as he did during those years. And his story changed those around him. That time and that work mattered. Even though I would never wish that pain on anyone, all the good and love we poured into him wasn’t wasted.
No matter how your story works out, all the love you put into these kids, it won’t be wasted. You can’t waste good. In the things that matter the most to us, there is always fear. There are always unknowns.
Our adoptive kids are adorable. They are sweet and kind and simply amazing. People comment all the time about how wonderful they are and how they would love to “take them home.” Part of me wants to say, “There are about 100,000 kids just waiting for you.”
Once you know the kids who are waiting, who need a home, it changes everything. They aren’t a number, but a real person that you would do anything for. I would cross oceans for my kids. I’ll go to battle to defend and protect them. There is always risk, but my kids are worth the risk. So are the 100,000 kids waiting and the 300,000 in limbo in foster care.
Additional Foster Care Resources:
This was the short movie I (Sam) watched in the training seminar which made me realize a foster child may not want to leave his/her parents at all, despite a bad situation. I also learned that despite one's good intentions, there may be triggers unbeknown to you that may set off a child.
Additional information on adopting (Childwelfare.gov PDF)
College options for older adopted children (Nacac.org)
Meet the kids waiting for families (AdoptUsKids.org)
Jillian writes about creating a life with more financial freedom, adventure, and mini-retirements over at Montana Money Adventures. The rest of the time she is hiking in Glacier National Park, chasing 5 kids, gardening and drinking imported black tea.
After attending a three-hour training seminar at Braid Mission in SF, Sam will be joining a team to mentor a foster child once a week this winter. It's his small way of getting more involved in a world where much help is needed. Perhaps you'd like to join him if you are located in the Bay Area.
My goal is to volunteer at a foster care home again once this pandemic is over. The aging out of foster care situation is a tragedy.
52 thoughts on “Adopting From Foster Care: Clarifying The Misconceptions To Build A Loving Home”
It’s interesting how you said that there are currently over 100,000 children in foster care available for adoption. My friend’s wife is sterile so she can’t have babies and they are planning to adopt a child. I will suggest to them to hire a family adoption attorney so that the process can be easier for them.
I was considering adopting a teen girl. The person from adoptuskids was so rude to me, I decided against it.
I am so sorry to hear about Micah. I can’t even imagine the pain.
One of my friends is a foster mom and a huge advocate. She started this movement that makes welcome bags for foster kids across the region with things like stuffed animals, toothbrushes, and PJs for when they enter a new home. I knew the costs were low (I think she ended up getting even the small costs refunded through tax credits,) and that the process was invasive, but didn’t necessarily know there were so many kids with parental rights already waived. I think she’s done quite a few stints with mothers trying to get their kids back, and describes it as walking beside a family as they work to get the help they need, but two of her kiddos have been adopted.
So much respect to you for doing what you do and for spreading the word.
So late to the party but just wanted to thank you and Adam for your loving hearts. I know everyone is commending you for what you give those kids — I do, too. But now that we’ve visited, I’ve seen first hand what they give to you! After spending just a little bit of time with them I miss them! YOU CAN’T WASTE GOOD!!! Truer words were never spoken.
I was thinking of writing a post for Sam on this topic. My wife and I did an international adoption because we felt God was calling us in that direction (we took an older pair of siblings – it was all or nothing). There is no need to write that post now. Jillian hit the main points. Our kids have screwed up and then fixed it. Sometimes this is still a work in progress. I am partially bald now which I joke is because of them. However, we would do it all over again. Our kids, for better or worse, are our kids – now through eternity. One point she did not mention is that the social workers do care but sometimes don’t know all the trauma the kid went through. If you are doing your job right, it will come out.
One note: While desire and openness of heart is needed, proper preparation before their arrival and continued psychological care during the first year within their arrival is absolutely essential. Without it, you may be headed for trouble. The kids will try you six ways to Sunday because of what they have been through. Once you start to gain their trust, change will happen. Until then the preparation and psychological care will be very beneficial.
Hi Chuck! That’s awesome that your kids are thriving! And you make a very, very good point about training and being prepared! The only reason we have kept our head above water is extensive training and education in this area. Sometimes my husband will feel discouraged he’s not being more patient.I have to remind him this is the freaking Olympic competition in parenting!!! We are playing on a whole other level with our kiddos. In the minor league we would be super hero’s. :) We might have a bronze medal day, but it takes serious skill to get bronze.
Thank you for sharing your story Jillian and for sharing pictures of your beautiful family! I am so sorry to read about the loss of your son, you were both lucky to have each other and enrich each other’s lives during the 8 years together.
In my line of work, I deal with a lot of foster kiddos, many of which were exposed to drugs or alcohol in utero. Typically I start seeing them very early on, say 3-4 months of age, and follow them till they turn 3 years old. As hard as it is to hear about their history and past, it is absolutely a blessing to work with them and help foster a positive change in their lives. It is truly amazing to watch them grow and flourish in life, despite their rough beginning. I also wholeheartedly admire the foster/adoptive parents so much for all that they do for these little guys. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is definitely not the typical FI post that I tend to read, but it really resonated with me and hit close to home.
Wow, Jillian, your generosity and love is truly a gift not only to your children, but to others as well. Thank you for sharing your story.
Its funny, I read this today when I was feeling like I was having an “off day” and it helped to put things in perspective. I particularly like your comment that “you can’t waste good”. I will try to remember this the next time I am overwhelmed with our son’s antics :)
Great post! My wife and I have debated foster care numerous times and I will send her this article straight away. It is a good option for those who want to grow their families. Thanks for laying out the truth here.
You are truly a modern day saint. Assuming the role of caregiver and providing resources for substandard parents’ children is a significant burden but as you note quite rewarding experience for the foster parent as well. My condolences on the loss of your child, that is something no parent should have to go through.
It is a good thing that everyone is born exactly equal as a blank slate and the genes bequeathed by parents who would either abandon their own children or need to have them removed by the state play absolutely no role in constraining behavior, aptitude and socioeconomic outcomes. Otherwise, that role could be viewed as daunting as that of Sisyphus continually pushing that uncooperative rock up the hill time after time. That would be too sad to contemplate…
Appreciate you for sharing your story to us readers Jillian. Those eight years with your son are to cherish and made everyone happy to be in each other’s lives.
One of my friends was a social worker and he would tell me about the kids that would come into the center. There were definitely some bad kids since they were cutting school and/or getting into trouble with the law and their parents didn’t really take of them since they had their own issues with the law.
But he would also tell me about the kids that would come in from a difficult situation and just wanted to be adopted or foster cared because all they want is someone is to care and love them. They didn’t want to get in trouble, just a place to call home.
Jillian, this was such a moving and inspirational story. I am so sorry that you lost your Micah, but he was definitely a happier boy for having you and your husband in his life for those 8 years. Thank you for all you and your husband have done for your children.
We had family friends that fostered when I was younger and it is a path that has certainly spoken to me. My husband and I have one biological son and are expecting our second, but talk often about foster care or adoption when I have achieved early retirement. If things go according to plan, we will both still be young and well able to help. I hope dearly I am not one of the 30%-50% who falls off on the path to the 2%-4% that ever do. My mom is in that group, when my father didn’t want to do foster care, and I know she regrets it deeply.
My saints Jillian, you are an impressive woman! This is extraordinarily helpful (and thanks to Sam for setting it up.) I’m sorry for your loss but I’m right with you – I wouldn’t give up those 8 years with Micah for anything either.
Fostering children later on would be something my husband and I will be interested in. Is our age going to be a factor by then? I would imagine we would be both better foster parents after we FIRE’d and have enough abundance to provide a more care-free environment. What if we’re in our 60s?
Yes and no. Your state won’t have any issue, if you are still healthy and capable. Sometimes they worry about adopting younger kids to very old foster families simply because of the likelyhood of that child losing you before they turn 18. But honestly, I don’t see a lot of families start after 60. I think they get tired and don’t want the hassle. I know a few amazing exceptionstuff to the rule. But from what I’ve seen, if people are involved before 55, they probably won’t start.
That said there are LOTS of ways to help! Seriously consider becoming a CASA. They have an enormous impact!
I wanted to adopt, which my husband was open to, but only after we exhausted all of our medical options (IUI, IVF, etc.). We ended up conceiving naturally, but I wish more people were open to adopting and fostering vs trying excessive rounds of IVF which are extremely expensive and physically-overwhelming. I do understand that people want to be parents. There are so many paths to get there. Thank you for sharing your heart-warming story.
Thanks for sharing this. As you’ve noted, the increased use of methamphetamine has increased the need for foster care adoption. Unfortunately, few people have that motivation to do the adoption and those who do are often inhibited by the above-mentioned concerns about adopting from foster care. Jillian, I’ve always cherished this noble act and it’s amazing what you’ve been able to do for your kids and to be able to keep three siblings together. Honestly, many are times that we’re out engaging in other activities but we rarely reflect on what good we’ve done to positively impact somebody’s life. I can’t thank you enough for these insights about foster care. Wish you and your amazing family well.
Here’s a question that I can’t find an easy answer to. On adoptuskids.com there are about 5,000 active listings for adoption. On their stats (and the ones you mentioned) there are 100,000 kids actively ready for placement. Is it just too difficult for underfunded state systems to keep up online or is there some other issue you know of with the other 95,000? Thanks for your quality information. My wife and I are currently considering adoption/fostering. Your article actually encouraged us to go ahead and fill out the initial application to start the process this evening.
Peyton, good question! There are a few reasons (and it varies by state). 1. Some states don’t have the resources to “advertise” the kids. 2. There are enormous privacy concerns for the kids (and parents) so sharing anything is very difficult and some states almost opt out of this as a platform and instead privately match kids with people who already have home studies done. 3. These are often the kids they are really struggling to find homes for and this is the last attempt. Kids that are easy to place/adopt out get matched quickly in the local office. 4. Some kids aren’t “family ready” yet. They are in a group home or institution getting more incentive help. 5. Some states/organizations want to privately match kids with foster parents based on full information instead of receiving 100 random requests. 6. Because of family ties (siblings in other adoptive placements), the social worker is trying to find a local family in that city so the kids can stay close even though it’s not in their best interest to live together. 7. They might already be in a foster home that is considering adopting but that process hasn’t started yet.
When my husband matched kids with families he had done the home study for (after the home study and training were 100% done) he would bring folders for 3 kids. Out of hundreds waiting in Montana, the family saw the 3 best options that would fit their family/skill/strengths.
And that is awesome that you guy are thinking about it! It’s a long process, but it all starts with that huge stack of paperwork! =)
Very inspiring Jillian! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. I didn’t realize how bad meth is impacting kids in the US. That’s so sad that so many babies are born addicted.
There’s a lot about the foster program that I didn’t know. It’s amazing what you’ve been able to do for your kids and to be able to keep three siblings together, wow. I don’t know if they are old enough to fully understand what you’ve given them yet but they definitely will many times over. Thank you again for explaining so much about foster care and all the best to you and your amazing family!
In the face of all the “problems” in the world – it’s incredibly easy to get discouraged and do nothing. Every time I read a story like this, it reminds me of the incredible human capacity for compassion and love. It helps me believe that not everyone acts out of complete selfishness.
Thank you for this post!
Even though we write about personal finance, and building wealth, I think at the end of our lives we’ll look back and ask the big questions like: “What good have I done?” “Did I make a difference in someone’s life?”, and not so much worry about our bank accounts.
Best wishes to you and your family Jillian! :)
Also, would love to follow your journey on mentoring a foster child Sam. I am 100% convinced that your efforts there could completely change a child’s life.
I’m so sorry you lost your son, but I am so glad y’all had each other for a spell. Being able to do this is part of why I’d like to get my financial house in order. There are so many people who need love and a safe set of walls.
Thank you for sharing your story, Jillian. I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your wonderful Micah.
We have our hands full, so it’s hard to imagine taking on more…but the need is so plainly clear. I wish each child in need could find a happy and loving home. Hopefully, more good will come from your post and the increased awareness it brings to Sam’s readership.
Even though I only talked about fostering and adoption here, there are SO many other ways to get involved and help kids in foster care. CASA (Court Appointed Speical Advocates) is an amazing group of volunteers who come alongside kids in foster care to advocate for their best interests. Our CASA worker was so instrumental in helping our kiddos not fall through the cracks that we named one of our kids after her! CASA volunteer receives no pay, and the cost to train/support them (in our area) is only about $2000 a year.
Also there are families who do respite care. They help support foster families by taking the kids for a weekend so everyone can get a break. A foster family needs so much support, especially at first. Just getting involved and finding one you can come along side of. Occasional meals, helping with appointments, or watching the kids during court dates and meetings: all are so important.
There are a lot of options, I hope you find one that fits best in your family in this season.
Thank you for your story! I know that I am just not able to be a full time mom but always felt I had something to give. I tried many volunteer activities that were nice, but then became a CASA and it is perfect for me! I make a difference to an individual (older teen girl) who is a great person but has been let down by many family members over the years. She is intelligent, resilient, polite and kind. I’m honored that she thinks of me as a friend and asks my advice.
I urge anyone who feels that adopting or fostering is too much to handle but wants to help-look into becoming a CASA. It is the most rewarding ‘job’ I have ever done.
When we adopted our kids we legally changed the middle name of our girl to her CASA’s name. Her CASA was that important! Thank you so much for the work you do! Every child deserves to have a voice. :)
The risks are very real. We adopted four kids (over 3 separate adoptions) at ages 7, 8, 10, and 11. Despite loving them so much, providing everything possible, and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for various special needs ranging from medical to psychiatric to academic, we might as well have left three of them in the orphanage for all the good it did them. They are all in their 20s now. They don’t feel loved, they aren’t doing well in any aspect of their lives (promiscuous, dishonest, using drugs, financially unstable, unkind to those around them, refuse higher education, etc.) and are unhappy, miserable people who actively hate me. It has devastated me as a person – I’m just a shell of who I once was.
That said, one of them is a lovely person with whom I am very close and am very proud of! So an overwhelming investment of (literally) my life into these kids, and a 1/4 success rate. I can’t do math with human lives and with matters of the heart, so in light of this one beautiful outcome, won’t even attempt to say whether the effort was “worth it”.
My suggestion would be to try to help foster kids, even going so far as adopting, but to set limits ahead of time for how far you will go. If your adopted child wants to kill you or your spouse, or even makes false accusations of abuse, this is terribly damaging to any other kids and the family dynamic. At this point finding a second adoptive home may be the only option. I’ve come to believe you shouldn’t sacrifice healthy (but fragile) kids to one who has been severely damaged by whatever terrible story ended out with him/her being removed from the birth home.
Just glad that it has worked out so well for Jillian and her family.
I really admire what you have done. You are obviously a loving and patient person. Thank you for sharing your personal experience from your adoptions.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. We have walked along side a few families where the placement or adoptions have disrupted and much more where they never saw the progress they had hoped for. It’s always heartbreaking.
My husband licensed families for adoptive placements of kids with high needs. He 100% affirms your statement about knowing your limits! Sometimes kids honestly aren’t “family ready” and some won’t ever be. And sometimes the parents could be doing every single thing right and it’s just not a good fit. The last thing we want to do in the effort to make one child safe, is make other people unsafe.
There is far too much shame and judgement on foster families who are struggling with impossible situations that no average person wouldn’t have the first clue about.
There have been times I’ve felt broken and crushed by the foster care system or kids behaviours. There is a saying I remind myself of, “God didn’t bring me through this to pretend no one else is struggling with the same thing.” I hope this next season of life brings you healing and fills you up. Your story isn’t over yet, and neither are those kids stories.
Honestly, we could end up in the exact same spot. There are no promises that our kids will always love and appreciate us. That they will continue growing to be healthy, happy adults. The risk is real.
I’m so sorry for your pain. I’ve hugged a lot of ladies who are feeling the same way. Sending virtual hugs your way too!
Thank you for that kind and compassionate reply – it does help.
Wishing you the very, very best in your journey.
There are no guarantees with any child. My husband and I have two birth children and one grandson. I was a stay at home mom for the entire time raising our children. Our kids was my Everything. We gave up a lot for the sake of our children. We did without a lot of materialism but iverflowed with love in our home. Our oldest child became pregnant at 24 and her fiance walked away, we didn’t.. we were there for her and her child. She and her child, our grandson, lived in our home until she was 30. I gave up my schooling and my dream job so she could pursue her career and her dreams.. I was the constant in our grandsons life, I was the one he bonded with, the one that took care of all his needs. For 7 1/2 years!!! Then she allows a *boyfriend* to move in with her, he starts abusing our grandson.. I took it to her and she refused to see the truth. We turned it in to CPS , they failed my grandson and us.. end result, our daughter and her boyfriend took our grandson and moved to another state, we have zero contact, only a PO Box.. we send cards and gifts and no response. I firmly believe an abuser will not change his ways.. our grandson is still in an environment of abuse! My point is.. there are bad people , bad is non discriminating.. it comes from wealthy, poor, religious and non religious, of all colors and races, from within the Foster Care , or from within the natural family unit. Our daughter has hurt us with an unbelievable hurt.. we hurt for our grandson.
Oh my, that is terrible. Why is it that our children take us for granted question why do we not appreciate all the sacrifice our parents made for us? Is it because we just do not know and I have never been told otherwise?
I wish i knew the answer… in hindsight, my husband and i feel that maybe we gave our daughter too much freedom and too much respect especially since we feel she treated us with a lack of respect. Ironically, we have heard from others that she feels/felt that we were too strict, and controlling. Funny thing is, we, and in particular I gave up everything.. my opportunity to have an education, to pursue a dream, my dream job, etc..
I don’t know, does she hate us because we didn’t tell her NO , or is it because we did say NO??
Touching and informative. I’m sorry for your loss but your perspective on it is amazing.
“You can’t waste good”
That is so sad to think about kids aging out. I had never really considered that some kids never find a home.
This is a very inspiring article and the attached video was really touching. You and your husband are doing a lot of good in this world and making a huge difference in the lives of these children and young adults. It seems like you have to be willing to go the extra mile to try and understand some of the history and triggers that have effected the past of these children.
Jillian, this was an amazing post. I have always heard the negatives of foster care and this definitely clarifies things.
While we are not foster care parents, God put on my heart the needs of these kids. We started a ministry providing diaper bags and backpacks to kids that has clothes, bathroom items, a blanket, stuffed animal, and Bible for them when’s they are placed in their new home. These Totes are for them to keep and have something of their own in the truly tough time they are going through.
I’ve met some amazing foster parents and heard both good and bad stories. But through it all, their love is what shows through.
I have such admiration for all the foster parents out there. You are amazing people!
Thank you for finding a way to be involved! There are so many ways to come along side these kids in foster care. They need all the support they can get!
I don’t get it. Why adopt and have the child fade out of your life entirely when they enter and finish college? Unless you are biologically unable or you’re at an advanced age where any company is better than no company. One of my ex renters was on the other side of child custodial services. Sure he had been in jail. Sure he did and still does drugs around his kid. And NO the cops don’t interfere, I don’t think it’s the cops territory whether he does drugs around his kid. Sure they sleep together in a small single bed only on weekends. And this was practically every weekend when the very old foster parents would drop off his son at my rentals. And yes the constant disagreements on parenting and the direction of raising the kid.
I read your 5 pts, have experienced it from the other side and don’t understand. Help me see am I missing a point or two? And yes during college the kid would be living with other college kids for four years, and after college their contact with the foster family ends. Well it could continue but the ones I’ve seen up-close don’t.
One of the reasons is to help a child find stability in an unstable home due to drugs, abuse, or any number of reasons. Perhaps the video at the end might help enlighten you.
Tell us about yourself Steve. I went back and reviewed your previous comments and most are negative towards renters, education, your friend who is worth more, owning property, etc. What brought you to focus on the dark side? Maybe we can help you work out a difficult situation you’re going through.
My inheritance given to me by my grandparents. No lawyer drafted contact, only promises and hugs. My parents promised them and me to safeguard it till I asked for it. I let my parents earn interest on my inheritance. They gave it all to another sibling to live in posh luxury. When asked for it back they reply it’s theirs not mine. Every time we use to talk, they reply the same. We don’t talk.
I don’t know whether you paid for your wife’s university. I did. No lawyer drafted contact again, only promises and hugs. Then she continued even more education [post grad] in a new state but promised after school we’d start a family with kids. Of course, new state, she found a new suitor. Always too busy to chat, turned to fewer to no replies. She found a new man who could help her in her further education when I was hours away.
Healing occurs over time they say. These events are approaching the 10 years mark for me and let me tell you time doesn’t heal. I wouldn’t want anyone to break with their family, or future family but it’s reality for a few, not most.
Sorry to hear about your inheritance and your wife. Perhaps take this perspective:
The inheritance was never yours to begin with, so nothing gained is nothing lost. Any type of inheritance amount can be considered a bonus.
As for the wife, better you find out sooner and split than stick with her for longer and then split. It’s always painful to break up, but believe that better things are ahead.
I will say for sure though that if you bring a “hate them all” attitude, you will become a people repellent or only attract those who take your viewpoint. Start w/ trying to help one person who has it worse than you. I’m positive you’ll find a happier place if you do.
This is why I like Financial Samurai. Steve (now, understandably) isn’t a positive fellow but he isn’t a troll either, and Sam doesn’t shut him down to keep the ducks and bunnies happy but rather engages him to deepen the dialogue. Kinda like a blog should work :-)
It’s good to remember, with all of the positive posts and wins and stuff we see all of the time, that there are less happy stories out there. And, as Sam implies, by far the worst thing that’s happened to Steve isn’t the financial / relationship losses, but the negative attitude it’s left him with (the gift that keeps on giving). 10 years in, some progress should probably have been made – it may be time to see if a licensed pro can assist.
Idk, about this steve ,but in Nj
Very difficult keep my own grandson,,both parents relapsed
Back in jail or using again,
Even though our grandson been w /us since birth ,it’s very hard the legal system court here
Very strict ,,they don’t want these children in
Un stable homes, ,
So much paper work , court back n forth ,
To answer your first question: Why adopt and have the child fade out of your life entirely when they enter and finish college?
I can only answer for myself. But my kids are my kids forever. Biological, or adoptive. I’ll be there mom till my very last breath. One of the reasons I am passionate about older kids finding adoptive families is that we always need our parents. At 30, at 40, or 50. When we get married, when we have kids ourselves, or buy our first home or get fired for the first time. We need parents. And I want older foster kids to have that.
To address your other comment. I do have a lot of experience with birth parents. I’ve trained foster parents, CASA workers and CPS workers on how to establish healthy, supportive relationships with birth parents. If I had the word count, there are about another 65,000 words needed to fully cover this topic. But I had to pick a focus for my 2500 allowance.
It sounds like you could have a lot of compassion for birth parents. You should think about getting involved and being part of the solution.
I am very sorry for your loss, Jillian. I can’t even imagine what it is like losing a child. You’ve done an incredible thing for the children you’ve adopted, and you changed their lives for the better. From reading this article and learning even a little bit about you, I know for a fact that the years spent with Micah were very precious to him, and that you changed his life.
Thanks so much. Those years were precious to all of us. It really changed the world around him. Even now, I know so many people who choose to get involved in foster care (CASA’S, foster, adoptive, respite care) because of knowing him. =)
Wow, that’s a really moving and informative story! You have my condolences about Micah – I can’t imagine losing a son.
I have a married niece that has 1 biological son and 4 adopted siblings that all came from foster care. I believe the biological mother has a drug problem. I’m not sure she wanted 5 children, but the biological mom kept having children and my niece always fostered and then adopted them within a year or two. They seem like a happy family and your post has made me even more proud of her.
Thanks! And you should be so, so proud of her! It’s a crazy and difficult thing to have another person continue to have babies and have to decide each time if you have the resources, time and support to add another to your family. But then your heart says, “How could I say no?” It’s wonderful for biological siblings to be raised together, but I’ve heard those difficult conversations play out. Do we have space? Do we have the time? We already feel so maxed out? As a mom with 5 little ones at home, it would be a hard conversation for us at this point as well!
Hi bless you ,we are grandparents
Raising our grandson since birth
He was born addicted ,our daughter did great at first then relapsed
We are doing our best to get legal
Custody ,and yes so many these babies born to addicts go into the foster care , because they don’t have other family members to take
Them in ,patience is needed these babies
Take alot our boy has speech problems but he is beautiful.
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Jilian! I read your post about Micah a while back and just couldn’t believe that something so tragic had actually happened to one of my fellow personal finance bloggers.
I have to admit that I don’t know too much about the foster care system. Most of what I know about foster care children is from the TV shows “Law and Order” and “Bones.” I know that most foster children come from broken homes, and that a lot of them have behavioral problems that discourage many people from adopting them. However, it doesn’t change the fact that those children are still very young and need care and love like every other kid in the world.
Your family looks wonderful in the photos. I wish you and your family all the best! :)
Thanks so much! I was happy to get to share more info here! And I admit the way foster care gets portrayed on TV kind of drives me nuts. =)