Why Do Some Foster Children Not Want To Be Adopted?

A foster child with No written on her hand

A Difference in Parent and Child Readiness for Adoption

Adoption is an incredible journey of love, bringing together parent and child to provide a safe and nurturing environment that allows young people to flourish.

While many children are exuberant to find their "forever family," others are not. As a foster parent, you may be dreaming about adoption day. Still, your enthusiasm may be different from the child living in foster care. Understanding why a foster child may not feel this way is crucial.

Reasons That Foster Kids Don't Want To Be Adopted

In the United States, children may be taken into foster care by Child Protective Services (CPS). This is usually due to child abuse and neglect from family members. Figures suggest that approximately 90% of foster youth have been exposed to a traumatic event in their childhood. Being removed from their home is just one. Some children may carry no trauma, but some may have bad memories of their past.

Children in foster care have a different perspective than children who weren't removed for safety reasons. Understandably, they may have negative feelings toward traditional family structures. Painful experiences with either their biological or foster family can create resistance to becoming part of a new family adoptive family.

It can take a lot of time to convince a child that you can provide them with a loving and stable home to support all their mental health, physical, and personal safety concerns. It may require patience from the prospective adoptive parents. You can also seek support from your adoption agency or social worker.

A Fear of Change 

Walking toward the unfamiliar and unknown can be scary, especially if you have a traumatic past. There are reasons a foster-adopt child must live with a foster parent for six months under Virginia adoption laws. One reason is to build a successful parent-child relationship before the final adoption papers can be filed with the court. It also ensures that you, the child, and the family are confident with the match for the forever home.

While foster parents are often excited to welcome a child into their home, the child may be more apprehensive. They are in a new environment where plenty of new things could unsettle them.

Entering foster care can be overwhelming for children. They may fear that a significant change like this could worsen their lives. You can help ease this fear by communicating with the child. Offering words of kindness, support, and understanding can be helpful.

Tell the child about the foster care program and Adoption Home Study you went through. This can show them the effort you made to provide a suitable space for them.

They Want to Reunite With Their Biological Family

Another reason a child may not want to be adopted is due to a strong desire to return to their biological family. They may be in denial about their situation and are still hoping to be reunited with their birth parents.

A "forever home" may sound daunting to a child who still dreams of returning to their original home even though the adoption may be in the child's interest. In some cases, foster children may need to prove their loyalty to their biological parents by refusing legitimate adoption options.

They may also feel guilty about saying yes to foster parents if they are still attached to their biological family. Using your tools of love and understanding, you should speak with them to get to the root of the problem. Your Child Placing Agency (CPA) and your Clinical Specialist will be able to give you great advice in this area.

They're Not Ready

You may feel that you're ready to be a parent to this child, but they may not be ready. They may have lost their trust in adults, and it will take time and patience for them to come around. Check out this blog to understand better how foster children feel and the safety they seek.

Be understanding while helping them to open up about their feelings. Then, you'll be better placed to put them at ease over their fears and anxieties.

No one said adoption is easy, and the process can be challenging. But, guided by the incredible force of love, adopting a kid will improve their life and yours.

Must Foster Children Give Consent?

It's vital to take into account child rights. Depending on the state, a child over a certain age may be required to agree to the adoption verbally.

In Virginia, the law states that a child aged 14 or older must consent to the adoption. Without their consent, the adoption cannot go forward. For younger children, their feelings about adoption may be considered by the court.

Ideally, foster parents should help the child be optimistic about adoption before going through with it. Communicate with them, understand their concerns, and talk to your local adoption agency about their concerns.

It's incredible to help take a child out of foster care, but adopting them against their will is likely to start your lives together on the wrong note.

What Are My Options Now?

There are other opportunities if the child still doesn't want to consent after you've offered them patience and understanding. Sometimes it's just not meant to be. Please speak with your child's caseworker and take their opinion on board.

While you may feel many complex emotions after missing out on the opportunity to become foster to adopt parents, many children are eligible for adoption in the foster care system. In 2019, more than 71,000 children in the USA were waiting to be adopted.

Don't Give Up on Adoption

You may be ready to open your heart and home to complete a home study process, protect children in need, work the adoption process and adopt a foster child. Still, it's not uncommon for a child to have reservations.

It's your job to listen to them, understand their fears and anxieties, and support them through the process. Remember not to be afraid to accept adoption counseling to talk through and support you in this journey if you feel it will help you process your feelings. If it doesn't work out, there are other adoption options available.

Contact us if you have further questions or want help becoming a foster-to-adopt parent.

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