A network of adoptive families, birth families, and adoption professionals which exists to improve the lives of children and others touched by adoption through support and education. UFA is actively engaged in community outreach and advocacy to raise awareness of adoption as a loving option.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Adoption Through Foster Care

Self-Portrait with AshaAung and ThawdaWaing
Photo Courtesy of Flickr ~ Andre Helmstetter
My family grew by two more children last month, bringing our total to six children, both biological and adoptive.  Our two newest come to us through adoption from foster care, as did another of ours several years ago.  One of the joys I have found is that with all six of my children, I see no difference in skin color and no difference between biological and adoptive.  My love for them is equally the same, and equally as strong.

Of the over 560,000 children placed in foster care in 2010, it is estimated that 107,000 of these foster children became eligible for adoption.  Sadly, only around 53,000 of these children were adopted during that year, with over half of these children being adopted by foster parents, with the rest being adopted by family members, and a small percentage being adopted by non relatives.  For those children who are not adopted, many remain in the foster care system for extended periods of time.   Some of these children are moved to group homes, while others simply age out of the foster care system, never truly finding a family of their own and a place to call home. 

I certainly did not set out and plan on adopting these three children from foster care.  Indeed, over the 12 years I have been afoster parent, I have had over four dozen children come through my home, and only three were adopted.  In truth, my wife and I tried to adopt another foster child, but sadly, it did not come to pass, leaving all grief stricken and upset.

Like I did four years ago when we adopted our first from foster care, I once again broke down in tears in the court house when the adoption pages were signed, due to the overwhelming joy I felt.  For these two girls, our home has been the only stable home they knew, as one child came to us at only a little over a year old, and the other when she was just 27 hours old.  For both, my family has been the only true family in their young lives, making the adoption process an easier one for all involved.
There are those time, though when adoption can be an emotionally difficult time for a foster child.  No longer will the child be able to hope for possible reunification with his biological parents, or even with other members of his birth family.  Instead, the termination of rights by his birth parents might produce feelings of grief and loss within him, fears he had kept bottled within himself during the length of his stay in foster care.  He may even feel that he has betrayed his biological family as he legally takes the adoptive parents’ last name, as well as becoming a permanent member of the family.  You may find that the child revisits the stages of grief again, both during and after the adoption process.  Indeed, it can be an emotionally traumatic time for adults and children.

What I did not know four years ago when I adopted my first child was that there was an agency specializing in assisting qualified adoptive parents of foster children in collecting the federal adoption tax refund to which they are entitled. Indeed, this agency, AdoptFund, helps foster parents like myself, collect thousands of several thousands of dollars for those foster children adopted between the years of 2005 and 2011. Even though two years have passed, I have found that it is not too late to apply for this refund, a refund that will help with sending our adopted child from 2007 to college.  Indeed, if you have adopted a child between 2005-2011, it is not too late for you to receive the refund, a refund that can assist you in helping to financially provide for your child.  To contact AdoptFund, simply visit http://www.adoptfund.com/.

The adoption of three girls into my home has taught me much, and has filled my home with more laughter, more tears,and more learning experiences than I would ever have imagined.    To be sure, there are challenges involved, particularly the fact that all three children come from our small town of just over 2,000 residents, and we do not know who any of the birth fathers truly are. Yet, these challenges are far outweighed by the gifts of love each brings to our home and to our lives.   We continue to foster children in need, and continue to love each biological,adoptive, and foster child with as much unconditional love as possible.  Each child is unique, each child is special,and each child is deserving of such love.

Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 11 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 40 children come through their home.   He is a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system, and travels around the nation delivering passionate, dynamic, energetic, and informative presentations.  Dr. DeGarmo is the author of Fostering Love: One Foster Parent’s Story, and the new book The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe and Stable Home.  He also writes for a number of publications and newsletters, both here in the United States, and overseas.  Dr. DeGarmo can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@gmail, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at his website, www.drejohndegarmo.com.

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