When You Should Not Become a Foster or an Adoptive Parent

foster parent

Foster Parenting and Adopting are Noble Callings

Foster parenting and adopting are noble callings. Who doesn’t want to make the world a better place by changing lives, one child at a time?!

Before you take the plunge, however, there are some things to consider: Be certain, and be prepared. While mothering or parenting comes naturally to most people, this type of parenting takes an extra bundle of energy, wisdom, and grace. God gives the grace and the wisdom; He provides energy you didn’t know you had,  so you don’t need to be afraid. Just be certain, aware, and prepared.

Be Certain about Foster Parenting or Adopting

You can know for certain if these are viable options for you after answering these questions honestly. Consider your reasons for wanting to become a foster or adoptive parent. If God is calling you to do this, you will know. When you know He has called, don’t say “No.” 

Sometimes, however, we need to consider this: perhaps your reasons for this journey are more about you than about Him. If this is the case, perhaps you should consider finding another calling.

The Why behind your reasons

Why you want to consider one of these options is important for you to consider. Which of these fits you? 

I want to do this:

  • to fulfill my idea of value or self-worth
  • to show others how to do this (pride)
  • to find my own fulfillment 
  • to have someone to love me
  • to give back to the world for the way God has blessed me
  • to add individuals to our family 
  • to fill the gap from the loss of my own kids or grandkids
  • to answer the pull in my heart that keeps tugging
  • to restore my marriage
  • my spouse has finally agreed

It takes a Team effort

If you are not a single parent, you can’t do this journey alone. You and your spouse must be in agreement. It can’t just be your calling; it has to be his calling as well. When the chips are down, you’ll need to know he is in your corner. You cannot do this by yourself. Make sure your Why is because it’s a calling from God. When you are certain, you will be able to look back at this decision with confidence on those days your life is turned upside down and there’s nothing but chaos in your home. You’ll still be certain even when you are  wondering, “What was I thinking?!”

Be prepared

There are ways to prepare for this journey. Use your eyes and your ears. Read the journeys of other parents. Listen to other foster and adoptive parents who you can trust to be honest with you. Take classes on parenting (even when you’re already a parent). There are always new things to learn. Gain wisdom from folks who have walked this path. You simply cannot be too prepared.

Be aware that foster and adoptive children (and any other children, for that matter), need more than to just be loved. Don’t assume, “All we’ll need to do is love them, and they will thrive and respond.” It isn’t so. Children need structure and security – which also includes discipline and responsibility.

Be the Parent – not the Friend

Be ready to be the parent – and not the friend. Every parent wants to be loved and appreciated. Foster or adoptive kids have a wrench to throw in the mix that biological kids don’t. They can crush your heart with these words: I don’t have to listen to you! You’re not my parent!; I want to go back home!; You’re not the boss of me!; I want my real mommy! I’m gonna tell my social worker you are being mean to me!  The struggle falls to you, the parent. You cannot lighten the structure and consequences in your home to win the favor of your kids (whether biological, foster, or adopted, for that matter.) You are the parent; sometimes you can be the friend, but you must always, always be the parent.

Providing and Getting Help

Reckon with the fact that most foster or adoptive kids struggle with attachment disorders and anxieties that your kids never had. Be prepared to provide help for them (and sometimes for yourself) so you can have peace in the middle of chaos. Ideals are great to have, but they often fall by the wayside when we walk the actual trail of foster or adoptive parenting. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you’re human and will keep learning.

The need waits for your call

In our world today, there are thousands of children in our own communities who need foster care and adoption. The need is great, and the workers are few. It’s a call one can’t ignore if the call comes to you. It’s a ministry. This ministry will grow your faith. This ministry will demand everything of you. 

Do not begin the journey unless you know you are called. If you have all the answers, then this ministry is not for you. Don’t begin unless you are certain and are prepared. When you know for certain, then step out in faith and become a missionary in the doldrums of your own home. Even there, His Kingdom can come. Even there, His will be done.

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