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Concurrent planning with biological children

I’m new to the Circle, so this may have already been covered.  I did a few searches, but didn’t find anything (likely it was user error).

My husband and I are in the middle of a home study to fost-adopt in California. 

Our biological son is 6. 

Given CA is a concurrent planning state, one of our concerns is how it might impact our bioson if we get fairly far along in the adoption process and the foster child has to go back to their bfamily.

Has anyone had experience with this?  I’d especially love to hear from people who were the biochild in this scenario if any of those are reading this forum.

Thanks for your help.


Hello, we did foster-to-adopt 3 years ago and it was likely that we were going to be able to adopt our foster daughter. Unfortunately, we were not and she was placed with a distant relative. However our son was 2 at the time and they were 11 months apart in age. It was extremely difficult for him (all of us) and he kept asking “where’s sister” for 6 months. Now, your son is older and most likely better able to understand and maybe you can do a better job of explaining the situation than we did. However, I think you’re being very responsible for considering that aspect. Loss is hard but is the possible loss worth what the potential gain would be?  I think that it depends on you’re family and what your limits are. We haven’t fostered again and for us we wouldn’t consider doing it again until our youngest, now 19 months, was at least 6-8 years old and could understand when and if they lost a foster sibling.

Posted by Adoption Hopes on Feb 28, 2018 at 8:39pm

At that age it is difficult to think except in Black and White. In Wizard of Oz there is a good witch and bad witch not any trying to decide. Ambiguity is difficult. So it might be best to just say we are the foster family which means the child needs a family for awhile. Maybe things will be better and he/she can go home. You are staying no matter what.

If adoption comes up then you can announce the child is staying until they are all grown up.

If child leaved you might want to do a ritual (lighting a candle, putting a picture of your family including her up on a wall, making an ornament for the Christmas tree, planting a memory tree, bush or flowers) whatever suits your culture.

Loss is tough

Posted by Regina on Feb 28, 2018 at 10:33pm

My oldest (adopted privately) dd was 7 when we brought home our now 5 yo dd (who was 6 mo at the time) through foster adoption.  I had your exact same fears.  Although there are no guarantees obviously, I stressed to our social worker that we really really wanted the lowest risk situations.  We were very open to pretty much everything else.  I told my oldest that we would be our little one’s family while she lived with us but that she wouldn’t officially be our daughter/sister until the judge said so.  (she knew about adoption finalization from her own).  I won’t lie…I was a basket case until we finalized.  But you have to go in recognizing anything could happen and preparing your oldest.  Good luck.

Posted by mamallama on Feb 28, 2018 at 11:23pm

Again, I can only speak from as a foster child who was adopted.
I would beg, beg, beg people who want to adopt not to take in foster children if all you really want is to have an adopted child in your family.
It hurts my heart so bad to read that people want to adopt from foster care because it is cheaper or easier or the government will pay for the bills, and they think that the worst thing that can happen is they don’t get to adopt the kid.
I don’t think it’s fair to take in a foster kid when you only want to be a foster parent for as long as it takes to get the kid adopted to you. And I don’t think it’s fair to the foster kid or your own kids to bring in a kid who has other parents and family into the house and start right away saying this is your new sister or your new brother to either child.
If you already tell the children they are now brothers and sisters then that pretty much means you don’t care about the life the foster child has or if they might love their parents even if they are mean or even abusive or that they don’t want a new family. And if you are telling your bio child that this is your new brother or sister then you probably are trying for a cheap adoption and working against reunification.
If you want an an adopted child then go through an agency and don’t take in foster children and tell them you are their mom and dad, and tell your children this is your new brother and sister, when you are supposed to be a temporary safe place for children.
I know I’m not saying this very well but please.

Posted by NoraT on Mar 01, 2018 at 3:41am

Thanks to everyone.  This is very helpful.

Posted by PValleyMom on Mar 01, 2018 at 4:11am

I just read this again and saw that the poster was asking especially for how bio children felt.
I wish that people thinking of taking in foster children only because they would hope to adopt them would also ask how the foster children feel.
Because we are people too and have families and feelings and aren’t just things that exist to make your families feel better.

Posted by NoraT on Mar 01, 2018 at 5:50am

Please understand that if there is chance the child is going to be returned to the family, then you are not ‘in the adoption process’ - that only comes once the child is legally free.

For both your own sake as well as your bio son’s sake, you have to get rid of that line of thinking and not go into this if you will all be disappointed when/if the child goes home, as that is the ultimate goal of foster care. You HAVE to approach it with the mindset of “We are a safe home for a child who needs somewhere to go for a little while. I will love them and care for them as if they are mine and will stay forever even though it will hurt like hell when they leave, because they deserve nothing less while they are here, but this is temporary”

Now, you can seek out children who are only legally free for adoption - kids who’s parents rights have been terminated but their foster family is not adopting them for one reason or another and an adoptive family is being sought out. Typically these children will be a bit older, as it takes time to terminate rights, but not always. We finalized the adoption of our girls (4 & 5) in December, they came to us as a pre-adoptive home after the foster family who’d had them from very young opted not to adopt for their own personal reasons and our girls have no major (or even minor) health or behavioral issues at all.  We had a foster son when then girls came to us, he went home a few months before their adoption (after nearly 3 years with us) and that was HARD on everyone, but we found ways to cope for everyone sake, and are lucky to stay in contact with him (he still spends the night / weekend with us occasionally, as does his sister who didn’t live here when the girls came but they adore and think of as a big sister anyway.

Posted by toinfinityandbiond on Mar 01, 2018 at 3:26pm

I think states handle things differently.  In my state you can be licensed as an adoptive family to accept children whose goal has been changed to adoption by the courts.  Our dd’s goal was changed to adoption before she was 6 months old (for a variety of reasons).  Our state actively recruits both “straight foster” and adoptive families.  My dd was with a wonderful family that only fosters before she came to us.  I think some states now require both licenses bc they want current foster parents to adopt if necessary.  I can see the benefit of that but can also understand foster parents who never want to adopt (bc of age, etc.).

Posted by mamallama on Mar 01, 2018 at 3:52pm

I apologize for not being more clear.  We HAVE considered the feelings of the foster child.  We’ve read Orphans of the Living and To the End of June.  We’ve taken classes and read articles written by people who were foster/adopted as children.

While I could never understand what it could be like to be in that situation, I am estranged from my family.  It is one of the most devastating circumstances of my life.  Being a foster child must be thousands of times worse.

We understand that.  We aren’t looking to foster/adopt to fill a hole in our lives.  We’ve read horror stories of what it can be like in the foster system.  While it will always be so, so difficult, our hope is to make it slightly better for someone.

The one thing we weren’t sure about was how concurrent planning would impact our child.  That’s why I posted this.

We love the idea of talking about things at whatever stage they are at.  “Foster Child is going to be staying with us for a while, but we are hoping that they can some day go back to their birth family.” and then change the narrative if things change with concurrent planning.  My son will understand that.

Thanks again to everyone who commented and I apologize, again, for leaving out our other thoughts about this.

Posted by PValleyMom on Mar 01, 2018 at 4:27pm

P Valley, I understood!  You definitely need to consider how fostering will impact your son…that’s what a good parent does.  Best of luck moving forward!

Posted by mamallama on Mar 01, 2018 at 4:38pm

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