Helping a Foster Child Transition to an Adoptive Home
Our first foster daughter -- I'll call her Alice -- came to us via a bit of deceit. Or maybe you could call it misdirection. Or, at least, a creative telling of the truth.
Alice's parents' rights had already been terminated and she was waiting to be matched with a family for adoption
. Before the state foster care system could arrange the meetings that would officially match her with an adoptive family, Alice's foster family had a medical emergency and could no longer care for her. I received a phone call asking if my husband and I would take in four-year-old Alice, and I was told that there was a good chance that we could be matched for adoption because she'd be living in our home.
We found out later that the caseworkers already had another family in mind for Alice. The family wasn't a foster family, so Alice couldn't be moved directly into their home. Maybe the caseworker wasn't completely honest with us because she was afraid that we wouldn't foster Alice unless we had a chance to adopt her. And frankly, as new foster parents hoping to adopt
, we might not have said yes to a placement with no possibility of adoption. In retrospect, however, I'm glad that we agreed. When my husband and I first became foster parents
, we were anxious to hurry up and adopt. Now, three years later, we feel that caring for children, even temporarily, is its own reward
. It was disappointing to find out that we'd been lied to, but we still got the chance to help out a wonderful child who needed a temporary home.
Alice lived with us for a couple of weeks before the meetings that matched her with her new adoptive family were held. After we got the news that another family was selected as Alice's forever family, we helped transition her into her new home. Alice had adjusted easily to our family. I felt badly for her that she was going to be moving again so soon after settling in with us. Her new family was very nice, though, and everyone worked hard to make her transition happen as smoothly as possible.
The first step in the transition process was for the adoptive family to come visit
with Alice at our house. We had several meetings this way. They would stay for about an hour while Alice got a chance to play with the little girl who would eventually become her big sister. To Alice, these visits were just fun playdates. For us, it was a chance to meet Alice's new parents and work through the disappointment of not being able to adopt her by realizing what a nice family she would be joining.
After a few visits at our house, Alice's new family picked her up from our house for a day-long visit. Alice was confused when we told her she should go with them. She yelled and cried, even as their car was pulling out of the driveway. I can't imagine what she must have been feeling, bouncing from house to house to house, all in a matter of a few weeks. As sweet and generally accepting as she was about the situation, Alice was only four years old and couldn't possibly understand everything that was happening. I don't blame her for being scared. About 30 minutes after they left, Alice's new mom called to let us know that Alice was doing fine. The visit ended up being a success.
For the next visit, we dropped Alice off at her new home. After that, she had a couple of overnight visits before she officially moved in with her new family. We talked to Alice about the fact that she would start living with her new mom, dad, and big sister every day, that they would be her family. We told her that she would never have to live with a different family ever again
. The gradual transition helped Alice adjust, and it also helped us get used to not having her with us. The day that Alice's caseworker came to pick up all of her belongings at our house was bittersweet. We were sad for ourselves, but happy for Alice and her new family.
Alice's adoption was finalized several months later. Even though it wasn't our time to adopt, I'm so glad that we got to be part of the foster adoption process
for a very sweet and deserving little girl.
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