The following post is sponsored and paid for by the Ad Council. All opinions are 100% my own.
Before we began our own adoption journey, I worked as social worker for a therapeutic foster care agency. Two of my main roles were 1) taking inquiries from prospective parents (maybe people just like you who had questions about foster care or fostering-to-adopt) and then 2) walking families through the homestudy and approval process once they were ready to move forward.
It’s amazing how many myths surround the entire process of adoption and fostering-to-adopt. I so desire to share facts about adoption and foster care because the need is so very great, and often the myths are deterring “perfectly” qualified families.
One myth I hear often about the homestudy process is that during the approval process, the social worker is somehow out to get you; that he or she is set on digging up every fault and proving to you all the reasons why you would make a bad adoptive parents.
While it’s true there are certainly legal and safety requirements that must be met to be approved for adoption, the overall goal of the social worker is to understand you as a family, know your strengths and needs, and offer education about life with an adopted child.
Before my first homestudy visit with any newly interested family, I would always say, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to take out my white glove! Just be yourselves.”
Having a squeaky clean house is absolutely not a requirement for fostering-to-adopt.
In other words,
You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.
Really! No one is looking for you to be perfect. No one expects you to be.
Of course, when it was our turn for a homestudy, I freaked out like the best of ’em and cleaned like a mad woman. It’s natural to feel like we’re getting graded or judged on some outward criteria. But in my heart, when I think about our daughter coming home, I never think that one of her greatest needs is a clean house!
Besides the myth of needing to maintain a perfect home to be approved, there are many misconceptions families think will hinder them from adopting.
MYTH: You have to have a college degree to adopt.
REALITY: A high school diploma or college degree is not a requirement. What matters is you commitment to raise a child.
MYTH: You cannot adopt if you are over age 50.
REALITY: There is not upper age restriction to adopt from foster care. Empty nesters make AMAZING foster parents.
MYTH: You cannot adopt outside of your state.
REALITY: Every month, families adopt children outside of their home state.
MYTH: It’s too expensive.
REALITY: Families who adopt from foster care directly from a public agency typically have no costs. In Virginia, they are also usually reimbursed.
MYTH: You have to own a home to adopt.
REALITY: You can rent your home or apartment as long as your living situation is stable and there is proper space for the child.
MYTH: You have to be married.
REALITY: In most states, marriage is not a requirement. In 2012, single parents accounted for 30% of all foster care adoptions. (Woop! Go singles!)
Here is a single woman who easily could have let misconceptions deter her from adopting from the foster care system:
If you’re considering adoption, I would encourage you to check out AdoptUsKids for more information on adopting from foster care. While we are not currently adopting domestically, let me be clear: you’ll never ever find me debating about where someone should or should not adopt from, because the need is great everywhere. Dare I say, we have not closed this door for the future. (I know. How many children will we have, dear Lord? It’s a common question in my mind, too).
And speaking of the need, one last myth is that there simply aren’t that many kids available for adoption in this US.
Nearly 102,000 in the US foster care system are LEGALLY FREE for adoption as I write.
That is a lot of children, my friends. Over 21,000 children have been adopted through the photolistings on AdoptUSKids. Real families like yours matched with their kiddos. Head on over and take a look, remembering the reality that you do not have to be perfect to be a perfect parent for a child in need of a family.
Do you have a positive experience with the foster care system to share? Have you adopted domestically through foster care? Please join the discussion and leave a comment below. I want to hear your voice!