I received a great question in response to yesterday’s post on what it costs to adopt from foster care: How much money are you expected to have as a potential foster care/adoptive parent?
Answer: Not much.
I say that glibly, but it’s the truth. All the expectations you might have about how they’ll be looking at your ability to provide the very best for the child(ren)? Throw those out the window. That’s not the standard at all.
Organic food? Not a thing.
Impressive job? Not a thing.
Big house? Not a thing.
Dedication to Montessori style learning? Not a thing.
Here’s the reality:
You need steady enough employment that you can…
- Provide some version of macaroni & cheese, hot dogs, and store-brand bread 3x/day.
- Pay the rent (or mortgage) on a living space that has at least 50 square feet of available room for the child to sleep.
- Arrange for transportation to get your child(ren) to school, the doctor, the dentist, etc. You won’t have to pay for those visits – they’re covered by Mass Health. But you need to be able to get them there.
Sounds like I’m exaggerating, right? I’m not.
The #1 thing you bring to the table as a foster/adoptive parent is STABILITY. If you earn a small amount of money, but know how to get out of bed every morning, do your work, buy food to have in the house, pay the bills, and function in a predictable, loving way? That’s the stuff. All of the luxurious extras we’ve decided are necessary to parent our children are just not part of the conversation when you’re talking about kids who don’t have a family or a home to grow up in. I’m not against the luxurious extras. But I think it’s important to lower the burden on yourself and create some room for children’s actual needs.
The funny thing about adoption from foster care: Kids are kids.
Even if you can afford organic food, your new kids probably won’t eat it. Kids like sugar. It’s a universal thing, and some of us were just super blessed to have grown up in the 1970s before anyone realized that a glass of Tang “breakfast drink” wasn’t the same thing as giving your child an orange.
If you have an impressive job, your new kids probably won’t care. Kids like to have their parents around (even though they say the opposite).
If you have a big house, start planning NOW for how you’re going to handle your new kids disappearing with their friends into all those rooms with no supervision. Because eventually, all kids become teenagers.
And whatever style of education you believe is best, your child(ren) may need something very different, and you just won’t know until you’re in it.
All that to say…it takes a lot to become a foster/adoptive parent. But it doesn’t take a lot of extra money.
Have other questions about foster care/adoption? Let me know & I’ll try to answer here on the blog. Even if you’re just curious but don’t think it’s for you, you never know…your question might help someone else decide it is for them.