We Asked, You Answered: Practical Ways to Support Foster and Adoptive Families

Silhouette of a family at sunset

We asked our Facebook followers: “What are the best ways people can support foster or adoptive families? If you have experience in these areas let us know what you think.” Here are few of our favorite responses. 

Karah E.: As someone who was both adopted and placed a baby for adoption I would beg people to refrain from using the word “real” in front of the word “parent.” Biological/birth parents are no more or less “real” than adoptive/forever parents.

Bekah F.: Get certified/approved with your county’s foster system to provide respite care for the occasional nights/weekends! In so many states, foster parents can’t just hire a babysitter or leave the kids with family for a break and it is so, so needed.

Aimee J.: When we adopted a baby a friend of ours donated her extra breast milk. It was so sweet and helpful! People also brought us meals and have offered to clean and babysit.

Pamela M.: In addition to all the suggestions of helping/supporting/loving on foster and adoptive parents let’s not forget the child welfare workers and the agencies that serve these children and families. Ask what they need: toys for visitation rooms, new socks and underwear for kids who enter care with very little to nothing, handmade blankets/quilts and/or a new stuffed animal to be given to children when they come into care, a “car” kit for kids to busy with during transportation to and from parental visits (books, coloring books, crayons, card games, etc.). Ask an agency if you could treat their staff by providing a lunch once a month or quarter, or at the holidays, etc.

Sarah C.: I haven’t read all the comments because . . . wow! There are a ton. But for me, the biggest thing is this: believe the parents when they say how hard it is and don’t give them trite parenting advice. Second to this: educate yourself about attachment disorders.

Heather B.: Be intentional (positive) with your words, and know proper terminology. Support fundraisers by sharing, donating, etc., or at the very least by NOT discouraging it. Bringing a child into a home is stressful, help with meals and cleaning is greatly appreciated. Don’t expect visiting time with the parent (although they may want you to stay). With newborn adoptions, it’s recommended that only the parents tend to baby, so help with EVERYTHING else is preferred.

Crystal K.: Don’t be afraid of our kids! Have your kids be friends with ours and offer to babysit.

Beth F.: Stop treating [adoption] like it is only for people who can’t get pregnant on their own. Acknowledge that any adoption story involves some degree of loss, but stop treating like a tragedy to be avoided. Celebrate families who choose adoption and recognize it as a valid choice regardless of fertility status.

Pamela M.: Another really simple thing that I didn’t see mentioned in a quick glance is for families to diversify their own children’s bookshelves with stories that include foster care and/or adoption themes. Normalizing the concepts foster care and adoption through children’s stories featuring children and even animals can help your children understand that families can be made in lots of different ways and that some families are for now and others are forever.

Becky M.: All of these suggestions are great. Respite care, help with meals and cleaning, use positive adoption language, offer to take any other/older kids out for a bit so mom and dad can have more one-on-one time with the new one(s). Also, give us grace. Some of our kids come with trauma based behaviors, so please don’t judge how we parent.

[Photo credit: Jude Beck on Unsplash]

We asked, you answered: What are the top facts you wish people understood about either foster care or adoption?

We asked our followers what they wish people understood about adoption and foster care and got some insightful answers:

On differences between adoption and foster care:

Honestly, just getting across the fact that they aren’t the same thing would be a step in the right direction. – Michael B.

They aren’t the same thing and aren’t meant to be. – Jamie J.

Foster care is not there for adoption and adoption is a long, expensive process with a waiting list. When putting a baby up for adoption the mother picks the family while she is still pregnant. You can’t just walk into a foster home and be like “I want to adopt that child.” They would tell you no because they are working to get that child back to their family. Foster care and adoption are not the same thing. – Desere O.

I would say that giving up a baby for adoption does not mean foster care. It means a private adoption agency, and everything is taken care of. One can choose to pick the parents or not, and one can choose to have an open adoption or not. I think most pregnant women fear that the child will go to foster care. – Shannon F.

If you’re pregnant and don’t want to raise your baby, you can handpick a couple to adopt him or her. He or she is not going into the foster care system. That’s not what it’s designed for. – Jamie L. (foster mother)

There are over 30 couples waiting to adopt for every 1 child that is put up for adoption. Babies generally do not lack homes and do not go into foster care at birth due to lack of a home. – Carissa J.

On adoption:

Adoption isn’t a magic wand. It hurts. Your first reaction when someone is facing a crisis pregnancy shouldn’t be to pressure them into adoption any more than it should be to pressure them into abortion. Whatever your intent, pressuring pregnant women to do what you think is best is harmful and unsupportive. – Sarah Y.

Adoption is a lot harder than people think. Honoring the birth parents is the right thing to do for the children as well as the birth parents. You can honor the role the birth parents played even if they weren’t great role models. They gave life to your kids, honor that. – Karis J.

Adoption is not a simple alternative to abortion. Many birth parents were instead torn between parenting and adoption, not adoption or abortion. Stop thanking birth moms for choosing life without knowing their story just because you assume the only other option was abortion. – Amber J.

  • Open adoptions are not legally enforceable and have been known to be closed by insecure adoptive parents. [Editor’s note: this can vary by state.]
  • Adoption causes trauma to the child and mother and extended family (siblings, grandparents, etc) even if the child is placed with the loveliest family.
  • You will grieve the loss of your child placed for adoption. 
  • There are a lot of organisations that will help you keep your family intact – help you finish school, help you with child care, help with accommodation. Adoption should be the very last resort before all possibilities of parenting the child yourself are explored, because there is much grief in family separation.

This is a good list by Saving Our Sisters – who helps families considering adoption explore all the options and be fully informed of their decision before making the very permanent decision to sign away parental rights to their children: “Facts professionals don’t disclose to expectant parents.” – Malessa B.

All adoption starts with loss. For the bio parent and for the child. All my kids are adopted so I know this first hand. You have to stop just tossing it around like it’s the easiest thing in the world to go through. And if you are an AP or FP [adoptive parent or foster parent] you better be educating yourself on all these issues and more. You owe it to your babies. – Louanne M.

People don’t give away a child. You make a plan for the best life for your kiddo. Sometimes that plan includes other people full time and forever. Open adoption let’s a person be a small part of the plan. No one is disposable. – Jennifer M.

On foster care:

The idea that no one cares about foster kids is a huge misconception. There are people waiting to adopt older kids (not just newborns). Kids in foster care are matched according to their specific needs with adoptive parents. It’s not like when they first come into foster care where their first priority is just finding them a safe place to sleep. A lot of thought goes into ensuring that they get the adoptive match right so that they make sure it’s forever. Kids are waiting, families are waiting, it’s not a simple process. A lot of children in foster care aren’t even legally free for adoption. You don’t just decide to adopt from foster care and pick a kid out of a catalog. – Laura R.

Your politicians taking kids from situations that are objectively better than the foster care system is neither something to be proud of nor justification for killing babies. – Jarland D.

Many children in foster care should not have been taken from their families. Those children suffer as if they had been kidnapped. – Rita G.

Foster kids aren’t in care because they did something wrong. I was shocked that people thought this until we announced we were adopting. I was surprised how often we were asked what was wrong with them. – Emily C.

Like (almost) everything else, the foster care system has many good people with great intentions to love and care for kids. – Karen T.

Being part of a successful family reunification (as a foster parent) is one of the most satisfying things you could ever do. – Lori S.

Birth parents still have legal rights over a child in foster care, so they can’t simply be adopted. – Stephanie R. (This point was echoed by many commenters.)

Foster kids are awaiting the return of family that did not abort and did not give up on them. Typically in treatment or doing time. It’s temporary and they are not up for adoption. – Kelly F.

There aren’t “thousands of abandoned, unwanted and available children” in foster care. The vast majority of children in foster care are there temporarily. One of the major goals of the foster care system is to reunite children with their families. I’m an adoptive mom, in an open adoption. – Louise C.

And lastly…

So many people never mention that they were adopted or spent time in foster care as a child. It just doesn’t come up or they don’t want to talk about it or might not even know themselves. But pro-choice people talk like no one adopts and no one fosters. As a child my cousin, a neighbor, and then my middle school best friend were adopted. My high school best friend had been in foster. My husband was adopted. These people are everywhere, adoption and fostering touch so many more lives than some people ever notice. – Emilie M.

We asked, you answered: What are the top facts you wish people understood about either foster care or adoption?

We asked our followers what they wish people understood about adoption and foster care and got some insightful answers:

On differences between adoption and foster care:

Honestly, just getting across the fact that they aren’t the same thing would be a step in the right direction. – Michael B.

They aren’t the same thing and aren’t meant to be. – Jamie J.

Foster care is not there for adoption and adoption is a long, expensive process with a waiting list. When putting a baby up for adoption the mother picks the family while she is still pregnant. You can’t just walk into a foster home and be like “I want to adopt that child.” They would tell you no because they are working to get that child back to their family. Foster care and adoption are not the same thing. – Desere O.

I would say that giving up a baby for adoption does not mean foster care. It means a private adoption agency, and everything is taken care of. One can choose to pick the parents or not, and one can choose to have an open adoption or not. I think most pregnant women fear that the child will go to foster care. – Shannon F.

If you’re pregnant and don’t want to raise your baby, you can handpick a couple to adopt him or her. He or she is not going into the foster care system. That’s not what it’s designed for. – Jamie L. (foster mother)

There are over 30 couples waiting to adopt for every 1 child that is put up for adoption. Babies generally do not lack homes and do not go into foster care at birth due to lack of a home. – Carissa J.

On adoption:

Adoption isn’t a magic wand. It hurts. Your first reaction when someone is facing a crisis pregnancy shouldn’t be to pressure them into adoption any more than it should be to pressure them into abortion. Whatever your intent, pressuring pregnant women to do what you think is best is harmful and unsupportive. – Sarah Y.

Adoption is a lot harder than people think. Honoring the birth parents is the right thing to do for the children as well as the birth parents. You can honor the role the birth parents played even if they weren’t great role models. They gave life to your kids, honor that. – Karis J.

Adoption is not a simple alternative to abortion. Many birth parents were instead torn between parenting and adoption, not adoption or abortion. Stop thanking birth moms for choosing life without knowing their story just because you assume the only other option was abortion. – Amber J.

  • Open adoptions are not legally enforceable and have been known to be closed by insecure adoptive parents. [Editor’s note: this can vary by state.]
  • Adoption causes trauma to the child and mother and extended family (siblings, grandparents, etc) even if the child is placed with the loveliest family.
  • You will grieve the loss of your child placed for adoption. 
  • There are a lot of organisations that will help you keep your family intact – help you finish school, help you with child care, help with accommodation. Adoption should be the very last resort before all possibilities of parenting the child yourself are explored, because there is much grief in family separation.

This is a good list by Saving Our Sisters – who helps families considering adoption explore all the options and be fully informed of their decision before making the very permanent decision to sign away parental rights to their children: “Facts professionals don’t disclose to expectant parents.” – Malessa B.

All adoption starts with loss. For the bio parent and for the child. All my kids are adopted so I know this first hand. You have to stop just tossing it around like it’s the easiest thing in the world to go through. And if you are an AP or FP [adoptive parent or foster parent] you better be educating yourself on all these issues and more. You owe it to your babies. – Louanne M.

People don’t give away a child. You make a plan for the best life for your kiddo. Sometimes that plan includes other people full time and forever. Open adoption let’s a person be a small part of the plan. No one is disposable. – Jennifer M.

On foster care:

The idea that no one cares about foster kids is a huge misconception. There are people waiting to adopt older kids (not just newborns). Kids in foster care are matched according to their specific needs with adoptive parents. It’s not like when they first come into foster care where their first priority is just finding them a safe place to sleep. A lot of thought goes into ensuring that they get the adoptive match right so that they make sure it’s forever. Kids are waiting, families are waiting, it’s not a simple process. A lot of children in foster care aren’t even legally free for adoption. You don’t just decide to adopt from foster care and pick a kid out of a catalog. – Laura R.

Your politicians taking kids from situations that are objectively better than the foster care system is neither something to be proud of nor justification for killing babies. – Jarland D.

Many children in foster care should not have been taken from their families. Those children suffer as if they had been kidnapped. – Rita G.

Foster kids aren’t in care because they did something wrong. I was shocked that people thought this until we announced we were adopting. I was surprised how often we were asked what was wrong with them. – Emily C.

Like (almost) everything else, the foster care system has many good people with great intentions to love and care for kids. – Karen T.

Being part of a successful family reunification (as a foster parent) is one of the most satisfying things you could ever do. – Lori S.

Birth parents still have legal rights over a child in foster care, so they can’t simply be adopted. – Stephanie R. (This point was echoed by many commenters.)

Foster kids are awaiting the return of family that did not abort and did not give up on them. Typically in treatment or doing time. It’s temporary and they are not up for adoption. – Kelly F.

There aren’t “thousands of abandoned, unwanted and available children” in foster care. The vast majority of children in foster care are there temporarily. One of the major goals of the foster care system is to reunite children with their families. I’m an adoptive mom, in an open adoption. – Louise C.

And lastly…

So many people never mention that they were adopted or spent time in foster care as a child. It just doesn’t come up or they don’t want to talk about it or might not even know themselves. But pro-choice people talk like no one adopts and no one fosters. As a child my cousin, a neighbor, and then my middle school best friend were adopted. My high school best friend had been in foster. My husband was adopted. These people are everywhere, adoption and fostering touch so many more lives than some people ever notice. – Emilie M.

The people whose lives you suggest aren’t worth living? They can hear you.

[The original FB post where we collected these answers can be found here.
We’ve since created a FB album with more such perspectives here.]

Recently, “The Good Place” star Jameela Jamil tweeted the following:

Text reads: “I had an abortion when I was young, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Both for me, and for the baby I didn’t want, and wasn’t ready for, emotionally, psychologically and financially. So many children will end up in foster homes. So many lives ruined. So very cruel.”
As we’ve discussed before, it’s one thing to argue for abortion for the sake of the woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant/bear a child; it’s quite another to argue abortion is in the best interest of the human being aborted. But Jamil is definitely not alone in believing abortion is a mercy. We hear sentiments like her own frequently:
Text reads: “Ending abortion will bring nothing but pain. Not only for women, but for children. Children will be born to parents who can’t afford them, parents who aren’t ready, or they will live their lives in foster care. More poor kids, more abused kids, more traumatized kids.”

Text reads: “hi there are thousands of neglected children in foster care, it’s more brutal to put them into the system than to abort them before they’re even a life.”

Text reads: “Unpopular opinion: I’d rather have my tax dollars fund a $600 abortion than my tax dollars support a child growing up in the system for 18 years never knowing what it’s like to be loved or cared for.”
These views prioritize abortion over foster care, but we’ve seen similar sentiments prioritizing abortion over a life with disabilities or generally being poor, etc. Those advocating for abortion as mercy rarely seem interested in the voices they are allegedly advocating on behalf of–the very people who have grown up in foster care or lived with disabilities or poverty. So in this post we try to amplify some of those voices.
Video of Frank Stephens’ testimony before Congress regarding abortion in the case of Down Syndrome. “I don’t feel I should have to justify my existence.”
Text reads: “I was put up for adoption by my birth mother because she knew she couldn’t financially care for me. She ignored the pressure from family to abort, and chose to give me life. I thank god for her selflessness every day. Because of her my two beautiful girls exist.”

Text reads: “My mom was told to abort me because she got pregnant with me at 19 with no job, and the doctors insisted I would be severely disabled. The nurses essentially begged my mother to abort me after saying I would be ‘slower than the other kids.’ She didn’t, and it turns out I am autistic. But I’m about to graduate university with a first in physics and a grad scheme already lined up. I’m the first in my family to go to university for a STEM subject. My mom tells me I’m the best thing that ever happened to her. F*** those nurses and doctors who thought me being disabled made me worth less. I’m not better off dead!”

Text reads: “I was a textbook abortion case…child of rape. Mother couldn’t afford me, dad not in the picture. No money. No family. Failure to thrive in the womb. I get to write this Tweet because my mom chose life. I thank God every day for it. Murder is not a human right. #AlabamaAbortionBan.”
Text reads: “As a product of the statutory rape of a 14 year old…and also adopted…I can assure you that comments about what an atrocity, a burden and an injustice it must have been for my birth mother NOT to have killed me…and then laughing at the solution of adoption…is extremely dehumanizing and hurtful. It sends a very loud message that my life is less valuable than others, and that not only was the pregnancy unwanted but that I as a person am also not wanted.”

Text reads: “I’m a 20-year-old woman with spina bifida myelomeningocele. I live with chronic pain & illness, which have helped me to love more deeply. While I’m not obligated to prove that I deserve the right to life, I’m happy to say I live a beautiful one, and I am not better off dead.”
Text reads: “As an adoptee, don’t you dare presume to speak for me. Knowing the true, self-sacrificing love my birthmother had for me has only strengthened by pro-life beliefs. My life was never an option for her. It’s appalling anyone would believe another person’s life is optional.”
Text reads: “‘Abortion is better than leaving these kids in the foster care system.’ Well, I was in foster care. Are you saying my birth mother should have killed me instead?”
Text reads: “Having spent my entire childhood in foster care, I feel physically SICK every time I see a tweet saying we are all basically better off dead.”
Text reads: “‘Feminists’ have been telling my autistic little sister and I all day that we aren’t convenient enough to exist right now, because we were born to a drug addicted single mother and different fathers. But our biological mother chose LIFE. I will not stay silent. #Adopted.”
Text reads: “You know, I did actually hear ‘But how much of that suffering would you have been spared if your mum *had* decided not to have you?’ How do you even respond to that? It was meant with all the care in the world, but…damn.”

Text reads: “As a kid in foster care, I can tell you I would rather be where I am right here with my foster family rather than being aborted and not being able to love. To live. To meet new people and to grow.”

Text reads: “People are saying my mom should have aborted us so we wouldn’t have went through foster care and that’s absolutely crazy. Never kill a baby because you think their life will be tough. Give them a chance. That tough life has made me a strong and wise young man.”

Text reads: [Jameela Jamil’s original tweet followed by] “Wow. I was a foster kid. Even though I have some deep wound, my life has turned out beautifully. I’m truly saddened by this and just so disappointed. My wounds are so sorth the life I live – and *love* – today. Just so worth it.”

Text reads: “Best decision?? You have ever made? That is not right. I was adopted into a rough home with a lot of mental illness – but I am so glad I’m alive, and turned it around to bring two other great people into the world. Thank you to the mom out there who didn’t think like you.”

(Click to enlarge.)
Text reads: [Original “unpopular opinion tweet, followed by multiple comments:]

“Wow I’m sure every kid in foster care feels great after reading this…”

“Eh this post is kind of embarrassing and offensive. Pro-choicers are starting to make it seem like all kids in foster care have lives that are complete shit and don’t grow up to be great people and do great things. They have aspirations, hopes and dreams and desires just like anyone else. Many of them find great families and wouldn’t change their lives for anything. Those kids and adults that are or were in foster care have to keep seeing stuff like this that is basically strangers saying they would rather them be dead.”

“I’m a foster child and I feel highly offended.”

“I am pro-choice, however, as a child raised in the system, who was constantly moved from home to home, this post is so off base. If you’re so concerned about children living in bad homes and not feeling loved, go be a foster parent and show those kids love and what a good home is.”

“I was in foster care most of my childhood. It’s not all bad. I’m happy to be alive, thanks.”
Text reads: [Original “ending abortion will bring nothing but pain” tweet, followed by:] “I was terribly abused and grew up in a single-parent welfare home. Stop using lives like mine for validation. Because I like my life, warts and all–and you know what would’ve helped when I was a child? If pro-choice people stopped insisting people like me were better off dead.”
Often when people speak out about their lives and their worth, pro-choice people will respond with something like “No one is saying you’re better off dead. We’re only saying that women should have a choice.” But if you read through these conversations again, you can see that’s not the case. The argument is not merely that abortion is necessary for the sake of the woman; the argument is also that abortion is better for the sake of the human being aborted. If abortion is supposed to be a better outcome for the child than being born into poverty, disability, foster care, etc., then the argument very much is that these people would be better off dead or having never lived. And it makes sense for all people in these circumstances to take that argument personally.
Further Reading:
Top recommended:
More:

The people whose lives you suggest aren’t worth living? They can hear you.

[The original FB post where we collected these answers can be found here.
We’ve since created a FB album with more such perspectives here.]

Recently, “The Good Place” star Jameela Jamil tweeted the following:

Text reads: “I had an abortion when I was young, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Both for me, and for the baby I didn’t want, and wasn’t ready for, emotionally, psychologically and financially. So many children will end up in foster homes. So many lives ruined. So very cruel.”
As we’ve discussed before, it’s one thing to argue for abortion for the sake of the woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant/bear a child; it’s quite another to argue abortion is in the best interest of the human being aborted. But Jamil is definitely not alone in believing abortion is a mercy. We hear sentiments like her own frequently:
Text reads: “Ending abortion will bring nothing but pain. Not only for women, but for children. Children will be born to parents who can’t afford them, parents who aren’t ready, or they will live their lives in foster care. More poor kids, more abused kids, more traumatized kids.”

Text reads: “hi there are thousands of neglected children in foster care, it’s more brutal to put them into the system than to abort them before they’re even a life.”

Text reads: “Unpopular opinion: I’d rather have my tax dollars fund a $600 abortion than my tax dollars support a child growing up in the system for 18 years never knowing what it’s like to be loved or cared for.”
These views prioritize abortion over foster care, but we’ve seen similar sentiments prioritizing abortion over a life with disabilities or generally being poor, etc. Those advocating for abortion as mercy rarely seem interested in the voices they are allegedly advocating on behalf of–the very people who have grown up in foster care or lived with disabilities or poverty. So in this post we try to amplify some of those voices.
Video of Frank Stephens’ testimony before Congress regarding abortion in the case of Down Syndrome. “I don’t feel I should have to justify my existence.”
Text reads: “I was put up for adoption by my birth mother because she knew she couldn’t financially care for me. She ignored the pressure from family to abort, and chose to give me life. I thank god for her selflessness every day. Because of her my two beautiful girls exist.”

Text reads: “My mom was told to abort me because she got pregnant with me at 19 with no job, and the doctors insisted I would be severely disabled. The nurses essentially begged my mother to abort me after saying I would be ‘slower than the other kids.’ She didn’t, and it turns out I am autistic. But I’m about to graduate university with a first in physics and a grad scheme already lined up. I’m the first in my family to go to university for a STEM subject. My mom tells me I’m the best thing that ever happened to her. F*** those nurses and doctors who thought me being disabled made me worth less. I’m not better off dead!”

Text reads: “I was a textbook abortion case…child of rape. Mother couldn’t afford me, dad not in the picture. No money. No family. Failure to thrive in the womb. I get to write this Tweet because my mom chose life. I thank God every day for it. Murder is not a human right. #AlabamaAbortionBan.”
Text reads: “As a product of the statutory rape of a 14 year old…and also adopted…I can assure you that comments about what an atrocity, a burden and an injustice it must have been for my birth mother NOT to have killed me…and then laughing at the solution of adoption…is extremely dehumanizing and hurtful. It sends a very loud message that my life is less valuable than others, and that not only was the pregnancy unwanted but that I as a person am also not wanted.”

Text reads: “I’m a 20-year-old woman with spina bifida myelomeningocele. I live with chronic pain & illness, which have helped me to love more deeply. While I’m not obligated to prove that I deserve the right to life, I’m happy to say I live a beautiful one, and I am not better off dead.”
Text reads: “As an adoptee, don’t you dare presume to speak for me. Knowing the true, self-sacrificing love my birthmother had for me has only strengthened by pro-life beliefs. My life was never an option for her. It’s appalling anyone would believe another person’s life is optional.”
Text reads: “‘Abortion is better than leaving these kids in the foster care system.’ Well, I was in foster care. Are you saying my birth mother should have killed me instead?”
Text reads: “Having spent my entire childhood in foster care, I feel physically SICK every time I see a tweet saying we are all basically better off dead.”
Text reads: “‘Feminists’ have been telling my autistic little sister and I all day that we aren’t convenient enough to exist right now, because we were born to a drug addicted single mother and different fathers. But our biological mother chose LIFE. I will not stay silent. #Adopted.”
Text reads: “You know, I did actually hear ‘But how much of that suffering would you have been spared if your mum *had* decided not to have you?’ How do you even respond to that? It was meant with all the care in the world, but…damn.”

Text reads: “As a kid in foster care, I can tell you I would rather be where I am right here with my foster family rather than being aborted and not being able to love. To live. To meet new people and to grow.”

Text reads: “People are saying my mom should have aborted us so we wouldn’t have went through foster care and that’s absolutely crazy. Never kill a baby because you think their life will be tough. Give them a chance. That tough life has made me a strong and wise young man.”

Text reads: [Jameela Jamil’s original tweet followed by] “Wow. I was a foster kid. Even though I have some deep wound, my life has turned out beautifully. I’m truly saddened by this and just so disappointed. My wounds are so sorth the life I live – and *love* – today. Just so worth it.”

Text reads: “Best decision?? You have ever made? That is not right. I was adopted into a rough home with a lot of mental illness – but I am so glad I’m alive, and turned it around to bring two other great people into the world. Thank you to the mom out there who didn’t think like you.”

(Click to enlarge.)
Text reads: [Original “unpopular opinion tweet, followed by multiple comments:]

“Wow I’m sure every kid in foster care feels great after reading this…”

“Eh this post is kind of embarrassing and offensive. Pro-choicers are starting to make it seem like all kids in foster care have lives that are complete shit and don’t grow up to be great people and do great things. They have aspirations, hopes and dreams and desires just like anyone else. Many of them find great families and wouldn’t change their lives for anything. Those kids and adults that are or were in foster care have to keep seeing stuff like this that is basically strangers saying they would rather them be dead.”

“I’m a foster child and I feel highly offended.”

“I am pro-choice, however, as a child raised in the system, who was constantly moved from home to home, this post is so off base. If you’re so concerned about children living in bad homes and not feeling loved, go be a foster parent and show those kids love and what a good home is.”

“I was in foster care most of my childhood. It’s not all bad. I’m happy to be alive, thanks.”
Text reads: [Original “ending abortion will bring nothing but pain” tweet, followed by:] “I was terribly abused and grew up in a single-parent welfare home. Stop using lives like mine for validation. Because I like my life, warts and all–and you know what would’ve helped when I was a child? If pro-choice people stopped insisting people like me were better off dead.”
Often when people speak out about their lives and their worth, pro-choice people will respond with something like “No one is saying you’re better off dead. We’re only saying that women should have a choice.” But if you read through these conversations again, you can see that’s not the case. The argument is not merely that abortion is necessary for the sake of the woman; the argument is also that abortion is better for the sake of the human being aborted. If abortion is supposed to be a better outcome for the child than being born into poverty, disability, foster care, etc., then the argument very much is that these people would be better off dead or having never lived. And it makes sense for all people in these circumstances to take that argument personally.
Further Reading:
Top recommended:
More:

Misconceptions of foster care in discussions about abortion

A common route of discussion about abortion, at least in the online world, goes something like this: Person “A” will talk about all the unwanted children in the world. Person “B” will point out that there are millions of people who want to adopt. “A” will then talk about all the children in foster care, and if people who are concerned about abortion were serious then why aren’t they adopting all those children (often with accusations of hypocrisy)?

I have spent much of my career working with children and youth in government care (including foster care and group homes). I also have been part of the pro-life movement. I see the assumptions inherent in this argument as problematic.

The matter of children being present in foster care is a separate issue from the morality of abortion. There are millions of children and youth, both in foster care and not in the system, who have a lot of needs. but people being in need is not a reason to deny life to totally different human beings. If there are ethical arguments to be made about whether or not unborn humans have a right to life, these arguments do not rest on whether or not there are other humans with needs.

What are we saying when we imply abortion is a solution for the problems that can come with being in foster care? That it is better to be dead than be in foster care? Do foster children see themselves as people whose lives are not worth living? Do we? How do we have compassion and hope for people if we make these implications about their worth?

People who ask why all the children in foster care are not being adopted have a basic misunderstanding of foster care. Its primary purpose is not to take children away from their birth families in order to release them for adoption. Its main purpose is to give children safety and health when there are serious problems in their birth family that prevent their well-being, while biological family has time to address issues. According to one report, three out of five children in foster care return to birth parents or other family. In my own province, even children designated as being in permanent care (the parent no longer has legal rights) might not be released for adoption. This could be for many reasons. Although policies direct that a child welfare agency has to go to court for permanent status after the child has been in care for a certain time period, the agency might still hold out hope that the birth family will be able to reapply for custody at some point in the future. It can be difficult to tell who can make changes to enable them to provide adequate care in time. Some agencies have policies simply not to release any children in their care for adoption. In other cases, children might be doing well in their foster homes, and there is no benefit to the child to break that attachment and put the child in an adoptive home. Foster parents, for many reasons (the financial costs due to special needs of children being one), may not be at a place where adoption of the child in their care is possible, even if it is desired.

Another thing to keep in mind is the needs of foster children ought to be met with adequate knowledge and skill. Simply wanting to be a caregiver and being a compassionate person is a start, but it is not enough. I used to do home studies for prospective foster parents, and there were applicants we did not accept. Children in government care have been through neglect or abuse and sometimes their emotional states and behaviours can be extreme. Foster parents need to have an extra something that matches them with the requirements of the children who will be placed in their homes.

When I have pointed this out, I have been accused of devaluing foster children, of saying they are too damaged to be adopted. Far from it. I value foster children highly, which is why I think it is vitally important that they be in homes or other places where there is a match between their characteristics and what caregivers provide. A simple, “Well everyone who is pro-life should foster” is a foolish idea.

However, it is apparent that there are tons of people who are pro-life who do adopt and foster children, even children who come to their homes with very high needs. Research doesn’t seem to reveal links between views on abortion and tendency to adopt and foster, but it seems that Christians are more likely to adopt and foster, and Christians are more likely to be pro-life. This does not imply that all foster parents are Christian or pro-life. I have known foster parents with a variety of religious and ethical beliefs. However, abortion proponents will sometimes state their opinions as if pro-life people are doing nothing for children in care, and that is inaccurate.

There are also arguments that if women have fewer abortions, an already taxed system will be overwhelmed. This ignores a lot of factors. First of all, there is not automatic link between not having an abortion and a child going into foster care. If women decide not to abort, their next options are generally parenting and adoption. Foster care is usually not a consideration, or if it is, it can be for a brief period of time while a parent increases their capacity to parent. Many children go into kinship care as well. Second, if abortion is less available, women and men might not view it as a failsafe and demonstrate behaviours less likely to result in an unintentional pregnancy, such as exercising discernment in sexual decision making and using effective birth control methods. We can work together at decreasing the amount of pregnancies in situations where the parents are unprepared to engage in the task of parenting.

Clearly, foster children deserve to be loved and well-cared for, as do all children, including unborn children. Rather than trying to make arguments that use foster children to argue for deaths of the unborn, we can advocate for things that will help biological families, foster children and foster parents, such as:

  • Addictions services that are easily accessible and reduce barriers (such as access to child care while in treatment). 
  • Counselling and support services for all groups: birth parents to address issues leading to apprehension, foster children for trauma, and foster parents for support and resources in the difficult job they have undertaken. 
  • Adequate financial support. Poverty is a huge stress for birth families and can lead to highly stressed households, which can be a factor in abuse and neglect. Foster parents could be more adequately compensated in order to enable more families to foster. For example, a family may want to foster but may not be able to afford a home with more bedrooms. 
  • Health care access and coverage, including effective contraception. 
What foster children do not need is to have their lives and experiences devalued by those who want to score points in an abortion debate. We can love all children
[Today’s guest post by Judi Heppner is part of our paid blogging program.]

Misconceptions of foster care in discussions about abortion

A common route of discussion about abortion, at least in the online world, goes something like this: Person “A” will talk about all the unwanted children in the world. Person “B” will point out that there are millions of people who want to adopt. “A” will then talk about all the children in foster care, and if people who are concerned about abortion were serious then why aren’t they adopting all those children (often with accusations of hypocrisy)?

I have spent much of my career working with children and youth in government care (including foster care and group homes). I also have been part of the pro-life movement. I see the assumptions inherent in this argument as problematic.

The matter of children being present in foster care is a separate issue from the morality of abortion. There are millions of children and youth, both in foster care and not in the system, who have a lot of needs. but people being in need is not a reason to deny life to totally different human beings. If there are ethical arguments to be made about whether or not unborn humans have a right to life, these arguments do not rest on whether or not there are other humans with needs.

What are we saying when we imply abortion is a solution for the problems that can come with being in foster care? That it is better to be dead than be in foster care? Do foster children see themselves as people whose lives are not worth living? Do we? How do we have compassion and hope for people if we make these implications about their worth?

People who ask why all the children in foster care are not being adopted have a basic misunderstanding of foster care. Its primary purpose is not to take children away from their birth families in order to release them for adoption. Its main purpose is to give children safety and health when there are serious problems in their birth family that prevent their well-being, while biological family has time to address issues. According to one report, three out of five children in foster care return to birth parents or other family. In my own province, even children designated as being in permanent care (the parent no longer has legal rights) might not be released for adoption. This could be for many reasons. Although policies direct that a child welfare agency has to go to court for permanent status after the child has been in care for a certain time period, the agency might still hold out hope that the birth family will be able to reapply for custody at some point in the future. It can be difficult to tell who can make changes to enable them to provide adequate care in time. Some agencies have policies simply not to release any children in their care for adoption. In other cases, children might be doing well in their foster homes, and there is no benefit to the child to break that attachment and put the child in an adoptive home. Foster parents, for many reasons (the financial costs due to special needs of children being one), may not be at a place where adoption of the child in their care is possible, even if it is desired.

Another thing to keep in mind is the needs of foster children ought to be met with adequate knowledge and skill. Simply wanting to be a caregiver and being a compassionate person is a start, but it is not enough. I used to do home studies for prospective foster parents, and there were applicants we did not accept. Children in government care have been through neglect or abuse and sometimes their emotional states and behaviours can be extreme. Foster parents need to have an extra something that matches them with the requirements of the children who will be placed in their homes.

When I have pointed this out, I have been accused of devaluing foster children, of saying they are too damaged to be adopted. Far from it. I value foster children highly, which is why I think it is vitally important that they be in homes or other places where there is a match between their characteristics and what caregivers provide. A simple, “Well everyone who is pro-life should foster” is a foolish idea.

However, it is apparent that there are tons of people who are pro-life who do adopt and foster children, even children who come to their homes with very high needs. Research doesn’t seem to reveal links between views on abortion and tendency to adopt and foster, but it seems that Christians are more likely to adopt and foster, and Christians are more likely to be pro-life. This does not imply that all foster parents are Christian or pro-life. I have known foster parents with a variety of religious and ethical beliefs. However, abortion proponents will sometimes state their opinions as if pro-life people are doing nothing for children in care, and that is inaccurate.

There are also arguments that if women have fewer abortions, an already taxed system will be overwhelmed. This ignores a lot of factors. First of all, there is not automatic link between not having an abortion and a child going into foster care. If women decide not to abort, their next options are generally parenting and adoption. Foster care is usually not a consideration, or if it is, it can be for a brief period of time while a parent increases their capacity to parent. Many children go into kinship care as well. Second, if abortion is less available, women and men might not view it as a failsafe and demonstrate behaviours less likely to result in an unintentional pregnancy, such as exercising discernment in sexual decision making and using effective birth control methods. We can work together at decreasing the amount of pregnancies in situations where the parents are unprepared to engage in the task of parenting.

Clearly, foster children deserve to be loved and well-cared for, as do all children, including unborn children. Rather than trying to make arguments that use foster children to argue for deaths of the unborn, we can advocate for things that will help biological families, foster children and foster parents, such as:

  • Addictions services that are easily accessible and reduce barriers (such as access to child care while in treatment). 
  • Counselling and support services for all groups: birth parents to address issues leading to apprehension, foster children for trauma, and foster parents for support and resources in the difficult job they have undertaken. 
  • Adequate financial support. Poverty is a huge stress for birth families and can lead to highly stressed households, which can be a factor in abuse and neglect. Foster parents could be more adequately compensated in order to enable more families to foster. For example, a family may want to foster but may not be able to afford a home with more bedrooms. 
  • Health care access and coverage, including effective contraception. 
What foster children do not need is to have their lives and experiences devalued by those who want to score points in an abortion debate. We can love all children
[Today’s guest post by Judi Heppner is part of our paid blogging program.]

Foster kids need help. Pro-lifers can provide it.

When discussing abortion, certain issues tend to come up. Two of the most common? Adoption and foster care.

I’m often told abortion spares children from “the system.” People who say that usually overlook some things. The first is that if foster kids really are better off dead, then why stop at killing them prior to birth? After all, shouldn’t we be “sparing” newborns and toddlers as well? Replies to this question are rarely polite.

The second is that choosing not to parent doesn’t mean putting your child foster care. People hoping to adopt actually outnumber adoptable infants, and many can be found online. Further, most children don’t enter foster care as babies: the Department of Health and Human Services reports the median age as 6.4.

Many abortion advocates aren’t pleased to learn this; some respond that if aspiring parents were truly pro-life, then they would seek out foster children to adopt instead. Recently, I heard one call adoptive couples “selfish” for wanting to adopt “fresh newborns.” I pointed out that they’re at least providing families to some children, and then asked how many kids he had helped.

I never heard back. 

Still, children in foster children do need assistance. And while most have returning to their families as their eventual goal, around a quarter of are eligible for adoption. The good news? There’s an organization that helps make it happen.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption was named for Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, and it’s “driven by a single goal: finding a loving family for every child waiting in foster care to get adopted.” On its website, Americans can find information on how to adopt along with how to make a workplace adoption-friendly (there’s a site for Canadians as well). It also features a program that  connects kids with the families they need.

The Wendy’s Wonderful Kids® program has helped over 6300 children to find permanent homes. It provides funding to hire Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters, “professionals who implement proactive, child-focused recruitment programs targeted exclusively on moving America’s longest-waiting children from foster care into adoptive families.” Recruiters are trained to use “aggressive practices and proven tactics” on behalf of the kids they serve.

Recruiters operate across the United States and Canada; there’s an interactive map on the website to help you find one in your area. And even if you’re not ready to adopt, there are still ways you can lend a hand.

While the foster system is far from perfect, telling those in it they would be better off dead is reprehensible. But the fact is, those children do need help.

Pro-lifers can provide it.

[Today’s guest post by Adam Peters is part of our paid blogging program.]

Foster kids need help. Pro-lifers can provide it.

When discussing abortion, certain issues tend to come up. Two of the most common? Adoption and foster care.

I’m often told abortion spares children from “the system.” People who say that usually overlook some things. The first is that if foster kids really are better off dead, then why stop at killing them prior to birth? After all, shouldn’t we be “sparing” newborns and toddlers as well? Replies to this question are rarely polite.

The second is that choosing not to parent doesn’t mean putting your child foster care. People hoping to adopt actually outnumber adoptable infants, and many can be found online. Further, most children don’t enter foster care as babies: the Department of Health and Human Services reports the median age as 6.4.

Many abortion advocates aren’t pleased to learn this; some respond that if aspiring parents were truly pro-life, then they would seek out foster children to adopt instead. Recently, I heard one call adoptive couples “selfish” for wanting to adopt “fresh newborns.” I pointed out that they’re at least providing families to some children, and then asked how many kids he had helped.

I never heard back. 

Still, children in foster children do need assistance. And while most have returning to their families as their eventual goal, around a quarter of are eligible for adoption. The good news? There’s an organization that helps make it happen.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption was named for Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, and it’s “driven by a single goal: finding a loving family for every child waiting in foster care to get adopted.” On its website, Americans can find information on how to adopt along with how to make a workplace adoption-friendly (there’s a site for Canadians as well). It also features a program that  connects kids with the families they need.

The Wendy’s Wonderful Kids® program has helped over 6300 children to find permanent homes. It provides funding to hire Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters, “professionals who implement proactive, child-focused recruitment programs targeted exclusively on moving America’s longest-waiting children from foster care into adoptive families.” Recruiters are trained to use “aggressive practices and proven tactics” on behalf of the kids they serve.

Recruiters operate across the United States and Canada; there’s an interactive map on the website to help you find one in your area. And even if you’re not ready to adopt, there are still ways you can lend a hand.

While the foster system is far from perfect, telling those in it they would be better off dead is reprehensible. But the fact is, those children do need help.

Pro-lifers can provide it.

[Today’s guest post by Adam Peters is part of our paid blogging program.]

Adoptees speak out

There’s a tendency in pro-life circles to romanticize adoption. The reasons for that are understandable. For many people, adoption is the best available alternative to abortion, but choosing adoption remains clouded by myths and outdated fears from the old days when girls went to “visit extended family” for nine months and adoption was considered a shameful affair. In the face of that kind of dark, stigmatizing misinformation, of course we want to emphasize the positives of adoption.

But that risks becoming shallow and flat. There are many types of adoption. There are open adoptions and closed adoptions. There are international adoptions and domestic adoptions. Adoption as an abortion alternative, with the birth mother making plans before the baby is born, looks very different than adoption from foster care, which is initiated by the state responding to possible abuse or neglect. And of course, no two adoptees are alike, because no two people are alike!

So with that in mind, I was pleased to see two media outlets magnifying the voices of a diverse range of adoptees recently.

First up is Buzzfeed, applying it’s “I’m X, but I’m not Y” formula to grown adoptees:

And at The Toast, Nicole Chung shares her insights about the difference between “open adoption” and “openness in adoption.” You should really read the whole thing, but here’s a taste:

I wouldn’t say that my family had a great deal of trouble discussing my adoption. We were always open about the fact that it had happened, that it formed our family, that it was nothing of which to be ashamed; my adoption was never a source of distress or drama for my parents. They were also glad to talk with me about their infertility once I was old enough to ask, and share how it had felt to be approaching ten years married with no children.

But we all struggled when it came to talking about my birth parents, their decision to give me up, and exactly what it meant — and how hard it often was — to be a family that was multiracial and multicultural through adoption. The judge who finalized my adoption told my parents, Just assimilate her into your family and you’ll be fine, and this was advice they took to heart. There was very little room for me to admit how much it bothered me that I had so little in common (not just in appearance) with my adoptive family. It was impossible to share feelings of inadequacy or rejection, or even explain the humiliation of hearing racial slurs at school. In a thousand tiny ways, both spoken and unspoken, most avenues for expressing any ambivalence about my adoption, or admitting to obsessive wondering about my birth family and my confusing identity, were closed.

So maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that my parents weren’t comfortable with what they perceived as my birth family’s attempt to pry my adoption open after years of silence. When I was five or six, my birth parents reached out to us through the attorney who had facilitated my placement. Spooked by the sudden contact, my adoptive parents sent a message back through the lawyer saying that I was fine; they were unwilling to share any photos or provide more detailed information. Being in regular communication, as my birth parents had requested, was definitely out of the question. 

I wouldn’t learn of this lone overture toward a more open adoption for over a decade.