We believe it is critically important that parents who are preparing to adopt or foster a child must be honest and realistic about the journey and the challenges that lie ahead. Those willing to embark on this journey must realistically consider the changes and sacrifice that lay ahead in order to provide a safe haven of security for healing. (Empowered to Connect, 2010)
The following questions are designed to help caregivers begin to honestly assess the journey ahead…and what it will require. We encourage you to thoughtfully consider these questions. They are not meant to scare you or in any way discourage you from continuing on this amazing path. Instead, our desire is simply that these questions will point you toward the hope and help that you need to form a strong and lasting connection with a child as you follow the call of your heart. (Empowered to Connect, 2010)
- Are you willing to acknowledge and fully embrace the child’s history, including that which you know and that which you will likely never know?
- Are you willing to accept that the child has been affected by his/her history, possibly in profound ways, and as a result that you will need to parent this child in a way that exhibits true compassion and promotes connection and healing?
- Are you willing to parent differently than how you were parented, how you have parented in the past, or how your friends parent their children? Are you willing to “un-learn” certain parenting strategies and approaches that may not be effective with a child, even if you have used these strategies and approaches successfully with your or other children in the past?
- Are you willing to educate yourself, your family and friends on an ongoing basis in order to promote understanding of the child’s needs and how best to meet those needs?
- Are you willing to be misunderstood, criticized and even judged by others who do not understand the child’s history, the impacts of that history and how you have been called to love and connect with a child in order to help him/her heal and become a person who identifies as worthy, esteemed, capable, and loved?
- Are you prepared to advocate for your child’s needs, including at school, church, in extracurricular settings and otherwise, in order to create predictability and promote environments that enable the child to feel safe and allow him/her to succeed?
- Are you willing to sacrifice your own convenience, expectations and desires in order to connect with a child and help him/her heal, even if that process is measured in years, not months?
- Are you willing to fully embrace your child’s holistic needs, including his/her physical, emotional, relational and spiritual needs?
- Are you willing to seek ongoing support and maintain long-term connection with others who understand your journey and the challenges that you face? Are you willing to intentionally seek and accept help when you encounter challenges with a child that you are not equipped to adequately deal with?
- Are you willing to acknowledge that you as a parent bring a great deal to the equation when it comes to how a child will attach and connect? Are you willing to honestly examine (on an ongoing basis) your motivations and expectations relating to your foster or adoptions journey? Are you willing to look at your own past (including your past losses and trauma, both big and small) and consider how your past may impact your interactions with your child? Are you willing to consistently examine your role as parent as you experience challenges and difficulties along the journey?
As you read through the above questions, you may have concluded that some of the questions didn’t apply to you and your situation? That may be the case to some extent, as every adoption and foster care experience is unique. However, we encourage you to spend some time reading and talking with other experienced adoptive and foster parents about what you should realistically expect as you travel this journey.
We find that parents sometimes start with less than accurate assumptions about how the adoption or foster care journey will unfold, and as a result they are more likely to form unrealistic expectations. We believe that these questions are helpful and instructive for all parents considering or pursuing adoption and foster care, and we hope that as you work through them they will lead you toward greater insight and understanding. (Empowered to Connect, 2010)
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