Thank you all for a wonderful panel discussion on our Orphan/Sanctity of Life Sunday School hour. We had several people ask if we were going to have an opportunity to post responses to all the previously asked questions or if we have an audio recording of the event.
The answer is yes to both.
Audio Recording of SS Hour
Recording starts about 10 minutes into talk.
Panel Questions and Responses:
Questions are sorted by type
Why do foster care?
- We need to see the children in foster care as an unreached people group right here in Lancaster County. In Mark 9:37, Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.” Foster care is an opportunity to serve these children and share the Gospel with them in our home. Another reason why we were drawn to foster care is because adoption is usually a very costly endeavor, however, adoption through the foster system is free.
What are challenges you experience in foster care, adoption?
- Every adoption has a cost. With foster care, 100% of the cost is emotional. When you enter the foster system and take a child into your home it is like getting on an emotional rollercoaster. There are good times and bad. There are times when you do not know what is going to happen or how long the child will be in your home. The unknowns are difficult, and goodbyes are the hardest part, but God provides us with comfort during the difficult times and He knows the future of these kids. We rest in the fact that He is in control over our circumstances and that He is putting our family together according to His pleasure and will.
- It is also a challenge because you are dealing with birth parents & sometimes their family. You have to guard yourself against criticism from them at times, as well as have compassion for them and show Christ’s love to them, although their actions are the reason the child came into foster care. It’s a very challenging position to be put into and you must rely on God throughout the process.
- You are also involved in the “system”, whose goal is to reunite these children with their birth parents or other family members. Sometimes those are not ideal situations, but they meet the qualifications of the system and then the child leaves your home. It’s a challenge to let go and know that the child might have a very hard upbringing, but you must rely on God’s plan for the child’s life.
How long does it take? Foster care, adoption, foster to adopt?
- Foster Care It takes approximately 3-6 months to complete the necessary training and paperwork to become a foster parent. Once you are approved, it could take a day, month, or nearly a year to get a child placed in your home- there’s no set timeline. Once a child is placed in foster care, the birth parents are given a plan and 15 months to complete their plan in order to get their child back. They can complete the plan sooner and be reunited with their child. However, if they do not complete their plan in this time, the agency will file to terminate the parents rights to the child. The timelines vary based on the case and parents. One of our children was in the system for 20 months before they started the process to terminate his birth parents’ rights. After the termination of rights, it takes approximately 6-12 months for the adoption to take place.
- Foster to Adopt- This is done through the Statewide Adoption Network (SWAN) in PA. The kids are typically school aged, may have disabilities or belong to a sibling group and have already been in foster care for 15+ months. They are in a current foster home or group home and are waiting to be adopted. You work with an agency (like COBY’s or Bethany) to become an approved adoptive family and then you are matched with a child or children, which could take months. Once you are matched and they are in your home, they must be there for at least 6 months to make sure things are going well. After that they can terminate parental rights (if they haven’t been terminated yet) and then start the adoption process.
What led you to foreign adoption as opposed to local?
We felt that there was greater opportunity to impact a child for Christ from a foreign country that might never have the kind of gospel exposure that is available in the US.
How can we serve those involved?
- We holed up after returning to bond- it was nice when someone took the other kids for the day, giving us a break
- Checking in, notes of encouragement, asking specific prayer requests
- Being intentionally helpful
- Watching the family’s other children during doctor’s visits, therapy, court, etc.
- Volunteering to clean the house, do laundry or other chores
How can families who may not have a lot of time available get involved?
- We have done various event for children and youth that may only require a Sat morning, Friday evening or even a Sunday Children’s Church lesson on Adoption/Orphan Care for Missions Sunday
- See number one above
How do you prepare for or get started with adoption or foster care for the first time?
- Talk to people who have gone through the process
- Go to different agencies information night
- Read some books
- Did I mention talk to people who have done this before?
What’s something you want the church to know about the “Theology of adoption”?
Ephesians 1:4-6 says, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” This verse says that every believer is adopted by God and that God created adoption before the creation of the universe. What an amazing thought! Jesus’ death on the cross was the price that God paid so that He could adopt us as His children. When we adopt, we see a very small picture of who God is and the price He paid to make us His. We gain perspective into His heart for the lost and His patience with us when we sin.
What countries are open to adoption by US citizens?
See the following link for complete list and info: https://www.bethany.org/adoption/international-adoption
Talking to your kids about adoption
How do you navigate the topic of their adoption with your kids?
- It’s easy-but graduated in terms of their maturity
- Don’t hide it from them
- Really it’s a nice teaching point to teach God’s adoption of believers
In view of easy access to information, are adopted children more curious about birth origins these days?
- I don’t think they are more curious but there is greater transparency in terms of information available.
Discuss pros and cons of “open” adoption?
- Open adoptions can occur between birth parents & the adoptive family, or other members of the birth family and adoptive family, depending on the involvement of the birth family. It is very important to first assess the relationship status. There has to be a good relationship with the birth parent(s) or other family members in order to consider an open adoption. You should not feel pressured into it and think that by offering the open adoption this will make them more likely to voluntarily terminate their parental rights or choose you as the adoptive family. Remember, YOU will be the parents and must choose what is in the best interest of your family and child. Open adoptions can vary from a court-enforced agreement to just a verbal agreement between those involved. We highly suggest NOT to enter into a court-enforced agreement. An open adoption based on a verbal agreement can change and sometimes needs to change if situations occur where the open adoption is not positive anymore. Openness can vary from just sending pictures and updates a few times a year (which can be through the adoption agency- not necessarily you mailing them out), to one visit in a public place yearly, to multiple visits a year or complete openness where there are various visits at your home/their home, texts, emails, etc. and treating them as an extended member of your family.
-this relationship can grow into something special and help the adopted
child know more about her birth family and history
-you can have access to medical history
– the support and encouragement from the birth family
-there is no need for the adopted child to search or fantasize about the
-the child can grow to understand the birth parent’s choice or
circumstances for adoption
-the birth parents see their child growing up and thrive, confirming they
made a wise decision
-boundary issues could arise, that’s where having a good relationship and
being able to talk come into play
-the adopted child could feel like they have to take sides, again having a good
relationship with the birth parents can counter this
-the agreement might have to change if the birth parent makes unwise
decisions, which could be hard for the adopted child who may wonder
why they don’t see the birth parent anymore
-birth parents could drop out of the picture for a while if they make bad
-if the birth parent has other children in the future that stay with them, this will be a hard topic to talk about, why they were adopted and these children weren’t
-adoptive parents and birth parents feeling pressure to live up to each
Who funds the adoption? Domestic/International
International. You do ultimately. There are a number of grants out there. Apply for a lot you may get some. You don’t have to pay for it in a lump sum. Really you get nickel and dimed. A hundred here a thousand there, five hundred there, 8,000 poof. I think we had to carry something like 10K cash overseas, usually included in the cost is your overseas travel and stay which can vary by country.
Craziness & Questions
When did you begin sharing with extended family members the leading you felt to adopt? If they thought you were crazy, how did you move past that?
- We shared right from the beginning of the application process. However we have adopted family members on both sides of the family, so it wasn’t a foreign concept.
- We shared when we were almost finished with the application process. We wrote them a letter telling them what we were doing and how we felt lead to do this. We were not asking for their advice or opinions because we knew they were not supportive of it. At first we got unsupportive comments when we had foster children in the home, which we expected. However, after time (about a year), they came to accept that we were foster parents. They were happy we adopted, but then we told them we weren’t done with foster care, which threw them for another loop! Since then they’ve come to accept all the children and love them. The best advice is to follow God’s calling for your family and pray that over time the hearts of family members would soften.
What is an uncomfortable question you have been asked?
- People will ask how Mary is doing, but they will qualify her as almost a 2nd tier child.
- Or we will be introduced to someone new and whoever is making the introductions with qualify their introductions with something like this is their other daughter they adopted. True, but she’s fully our daughter. The adoption was 4 years ago! The qualifier doesn’t need tacked on.
- So, how many are yours? They are trying to determine how many are biological and how many are adopted.
- Are they siblings?
- How many fathers?
- Were the parents on drugs? Why is the child in foster care?
- When you first get a foster care placement . . are you adopting? Doesn’t the mother want the baby? How long will you have them? (we typically don’t know)
- Won’t it will be so hard when they go back to their parents?
- What race are they?
- Keep in mind that if the child is old enough they can hear and understand your questions and these can be very hurtful to them.
What question do you often get asked?
- Are they ALL yours?
- How many did you adopt?
- Where are “they” from?