No, I’m Not Going to Adopt My Foster Child, Stop Asking!


Foster care is intended to bridge the gap between when a child is removed from their biological family, and when they can return. This is a concept that most don’t understand.


a stick figure family on a chalk board with letter magnets spelling out the words foster careA child, torn from their home, parents, and life is then placed in my care.  I’m a foster mom and have been for five years now.  We’ve had seven placements.  And soon after a child arrives, I start hearing this question, “Are you going to adopt her/him?”  and I don’t know how to respond.  It usually comes from people I’m not very close with. Parents in our neighborhood.  People I meet for the first (or second) time.  Nurses at the doctor’s office.  A car salesman once asked me in front of my foster kiddo.  And a priest once directed the question towards the foster kiddo, “They’re going to adopt you, right?  I hope so!”

How do I go into the intricacies of foster care?  Confidentiality, reunification, parental rights, temporality, guardianship, kinship placement.  Should I use it as a teaching moment to explain that these children are not property or objects that I can choose to keep forever or send away?  And why should I have to be having these conversations with strangers?!?  I usually try to save them from their own embarrassment (because society has raised me to do so) by smiling, letting them know that foster care is a temporary placement and that all children come into care with the goal of reunification.  How I really want to respond is to tell them to mind their own business.

On top of this question being utterly inappropriate in terms of protecting these children’s stories, there is so much judgment attached to it.  Am I a bad person because my answer is “no”?  The assumption that only cold-hearted people would send these children away is pervasive.  The thought that I should fight for these kids tooth and nail to stay with us forever.  Like the grandmother in Instant Family, who urges the couple to fight for those kids regardless that reunification should be the goal, and foster parents should be supporting reunification. 

We don’t fight to keep our foster kids.  We fight so that our kids end up in the best forever home we can find for them.  And that prioritizes biological family.  If it’s not biological parents, it’s relatives, and with siblings.  It’s families who will commit to keeping relationships between siblings if they have to be split up and who commit to staying in the same city as their siblings.  We cannot always ensure those things, and we have to be honest about that.  We are rarely the best forever option for these kids, and as hard as it is to realize that, it’s not about us – it’s about these kids who need someone who is looking out for their best interest.hands holding a yellow cut out house on a blue background

Yes, it’s hard to let them go.  It’s heartbreaking.  Devastating.  But again, it’s not about us.  This is what we signed up to do.  We are not stealing babies away from their biological parents.  We are providing children with a temporary home, filling them with love, so we can send them off to their forever home – however that might look.  So stop asking us if we’re going to keep them.