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Does It Have to be Foster-Adopt or Nothing?

But foster-adopt went hand-in-hand with reunification.

I'm often asked why we didn't adopt here at home.

I was hesitant to adopt a child whose biological mother was still in the picture. We went to Russia to adopt because parental rights were terminated, because there were no reunification programs for the broken families to bring kids back together with parents who had been unable to or neglected to care for them, like at home in California. At least those programs were not in effect once the child was placed on the registry.

But in California, like other states, things worked differently. It meant that of the children who were eligible for adoption, most had not had their parental rights terminated while people were trying to adopt them.

Before an adoption could be finalized-or, set into motion-the prospective parents and child would live as a foster family unit. Foster parents, foster child. We were told it was "foster-adopt or nothing."

Foster-adopt went hand-in-hand with reunification. Court-appointed social workers would be working with the biological mother and/or father and child to see if there was any chance that the family could be reunited while the child was living with a foster family who might want to adopt him.

It's always terrific, in fact, when a family unit stays together and the arrangement is nurturing for the child. This was, indeed, the upside to foster-adopt. That there is this core belief that family units could and should be mended, and that our system tries to do just that.

But imagine intending to adopt a child while a social worker was working to reunite that child with his biological parents?

Imagine if you didn't have the emotional constitution to live with knowing that the little one you were attempting to adopt could, at any moment, be given back to his family of origin? And not feeling happy about that and feeling guilt over that. This was the downside, at least to some adoptive families.

It's how I explain our decision.

More from Meredith Gordon Resnick L.C.S.W.
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