Since we took our foster daughter into home almost six months ago, we’ve been asked probably 9,782 times if we’re going to adopt her. I don’t blame people for asking. It’s not an unreasonable question, and it’s one that I’ve wondered myself many times.
The hard part is that 1) I have no idea, and 2) we don’t WANT her to end up available for adoption.
We don’t wish for her family to fall apart beyond repair so that we can put our claims on her. We aren’t laying awake at night hoping for her to be a Cummings someday. We don’t want her to lose the chance at getting to snuggle her mom at night for the rest of her life.
We will absolutely, without a doubt, love her as long as she lives, in whatever capacity she needs us to, but we will never wish for her to be heartbroken so that we can feel whole.
We also have LITERALLY no idea when she will go home, or if she will go home at all. We don’t know if our case will be resolved by reunification or adoption. We don’t know if it will be resolved in a few months or be drug out for a couple more years.
We honestly don’t know.
And every time we’re asked about it, it feels a little like her heart is being put on display for everyone to talk about and look at. She isn’t sitting around wishing for her parents’ rights to be terminated any more than we are.
Some days, she wants to live with us forever. Some days, she desperately misses the way her mom feels and smells. Other days, she doesn’t want to be with either of us because she’s a preteen who hates authority figures.
Adoption is not a fairy tale story where a child has been beautiful scooped up and saved from a monster that they hate. It’s a story of pain and heartbreak, where a child has been ripped away (usually unwillingly) from a parent who has hurt them, and then picked up by another family who wants to help them heal from that pain and return back to their HEALTHY parent.
It’s a complicated story with lots of ups and downs. None of the answers are simple.
Most of the time, we don’t let the thought of adoption enter our brains because that’s not why we signed up for this gig. We signed up to love and nurture a child for a season while they’re working to reunify with their biological family.
However, when our minds aren’t preoccupied with a million chores, appointments, or arguments, we sometimes slip and think about it anyway. When we do, these are the things we ACTUALLY think about:
1) How long will she be with us? Should we sign her up for summer sports or will she be home by then? Will she be with us when school starts? Will she be with us next Christmas?
2) Will we get enough time with her that she can actually make progress at therapy? If she goes home, will all of her therapy stop? Will she regress into old habits and thought patterns?
3) When her parent has court next month for an old legal charge, will they go to jail? If they go to jail, will our case goal change? How will we stay in contact with that parent? Do I have to go to a jail now?
4) If we end up adopting her, will she ever feel like she belongs, or will she feel like to halves of mismatched families?
5) Would she even want to be adopted by us?
6) Are the teenage years about to throw us for a huge loop? Will she hate us then? Will she even be here during those years? If she’s not here during those years, will she be safe? Will she participate in unhealthy activities? Will she be taken advantage of?
7) If she goes home, will she call us? Will we ever see her again? Who will rub her back when she’s sick? Who will listen to her stories about her middle school boyfriend and remind her that she’s important even if she doesn’t have one? Who will advocate for her?
8) Will she look back and remember her time with us as one of warmth or one of hatred?
There are so many unknowns in this world of foster care. It’s really important to me–and other foster parents–that people remember why most of us chose this life.
It wasn’t to steal someone’s child away and be their savior. It was to offer help and rehabilitation to families.
Asking us if we’re adopting our foster kids is like saying none of the in-between matters. It’s like saying she’s not really ours until a piece of paper says so.
She’ll be our sister forever, whether she lives here or not.