National Adoption Month: Advice from an Adoptive Family

November is National Adoption Month.

Adoption created our family. We looked into private adoption prior to deciding on foster care. Remember, the goal of foster care is reunification with the birth family and if that is not in the best interest of the child, then the child(ren) may be placed for adoption.

My husband and I decided to go through foster care knowing reunification is the ultimate goal. We did this because we wanted to be positive role models for children and provide a safe and loving home. 

Nation Adoption Month

If you are thinking about adoption, here are a few staggering statistics from Adoption Statistics:

  • 135,000 children a year are adopted in the United States alone
    • 59% from Foster Care System
    • 26% Foreign adoptions
    • 15% Voluntarily relinquished at birth
  • 428,000 children are waiting in foster care
  • Children typically spend 2-5 years in foster care before being adopted
  • Some children simply age out of foster care

If you live in Iowa and are interested in foster care or adoption, visit Iowa Families & Adoption Parents Association website (IFAPA). The initial class is 3 hours once a week for 10 weeks. There are background checks, fingerprinting, home visits, and reference checks. It feels very intrusive and incredibly overwhelming. They hand you a large handbook and several papers to fill out. You have homework to do. However, in the grand scheme of things, it is nothing compared to what the children are enduring. Investing time into this class helps give you a little, tiny glimpse as to what may have been going on with your children. 

Are you considering adoption?

1. Learn about Trauma

IFAPA has links for trauma-informed care. My #1 take-away is to READ THEM. People’s assumption about kids in foster care that are now placed in a loving, supportive home are this, “Your kids must be so happy, they have clothes, food, toys, and beds.” I cannot say this is not true for some of the children. What I can tell you is that this is not true for every child. Each of my four children responded to their adoption differently.

Lets spin it and place it in perspective of a child: A police office just removed me from the only mom I have ever known and now I get to go live in another town with two complete strangers. But mom told me not to talk to strangers. I also get to go to a new school and make all new friends. 

To me, as a grown adult that sounds terrifying, no it sounds traumatic. With each traumatic event children can regress up to 6 months. Even though my husband and I are warm and loving, it still is traumatic for the kids. I often think if I was 3, 4, 6, & 8 years old (the ages each of my kids were when placed in foster care) and I think how I would have reacted. Being 6 and 8, I would have cried and screamed or potentially just shut down. If I was 3 or 4 years old, I honestly do not know what I would do. 

2. Embrace Therapy

When we found out that we were going to adopt these 4 beautiful children, we got a referral for therapy. Our now 7-year-old was exhibiting behaviors we did not know how to handle. Tears, running away, screaming, yelling, kicking just crazy amounts of anger and rage.  We were trying to build trust and set boundaries, but these behaviors were making it difficult. We placed our 7 and 9 year old in therapy.

Along the way, my husband and I benefited from therapy as well. They helped us develop techniques and ways to deal with this behaviors from our 7-year-old. We had to use parenting techniques that we would never have done. For example, no punishing for behaviors, rewarding every good behavior, no spanking, no yelling. It definitely was not the disciple my husband or I were raised with. It took awhile for us to get the hang of it, but after 9 months, shortly before our adoption was finalized, we were released from therapy. We know that we may need therapy again in our future and we will be open to it. 

Adoption has created our family and many other families.

Being an advocate for your children through therapy and learning about trauma informed care can help your children blossom during the adoption process. Understanding your children’s story and having empathy for their situation can help to build a foundation of trust. This is just a glimpse of a few key points that I feel are important if your are considering adoption. 

If you are thinking about adopting or even becoming a foster parent click on IFAPA for more information. 

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Ashley lives in a world of organized chaos. She lives by her color-coded calendar and love of bullet-coffee. Ashley and her husband, Tom, have been married for 10 years. They have four, crazy beautiful children: Jordan (11), Nina (9), William (7), and Rico (6). They keep busy taking kids between sports and church activities. Did she mention they also have 3 dogs, an indoor cat, and several outdoor kitties? It just adds to the marvelous chaos that is The Caton Family! In addition, Ashley also works part time as a NICU nurse.