Being the parent of a 4-year-old, I regularly see barriers that stop her in her tracks. Walking into a dark room to put away a toy is one. She will come find me wherever I am in the house and let me know it’s dark and that she can’t put her toys away. What’s her fear? Monsters. Yes, the classic fear of a monster looming in that dark room immobilizes her. Stepping off a curb into a busy parking lot has the same “stop her in her tracks” effect. She is afraid of the large moving cars and will look up and reach out to take my hand so she can cross the parking lot safely. Do you see the difference between these two barriers that stop her in her tracks? One fear I encourage her to conquer on her own. The other, I actually validate as being healthy and help her navigate.
So many times, when families or individuals consider fostering or adopting, they immediately start mentally listing their barriers. Some of those barriers are quite honestly just monsters in a dark room. The fear may be real, but in reality, the barrier is not what it appears to be. Moving forward would be wise and recommended. There are also, however, busy parking lot barriers. These barriers do need to be assessed properly and navigated with some additional guidance. Here are some classic barrier examples along with a general recommendation of pause or move forward to gather more information.
“I will get too attached.”
Move forward. Getting attached is the point! Attachment is where healing may happen for a child and getting too attached actually isn’t possible.
You are experiencing significant health issues.
Pause. It’s difficult to help someone else who is sick when we are sick ourselves. While you are working on your health, use that time to prepare by reading trauma parenting books or speaking with other foster and/or adoptive parents.
Do you foresee a time when you aren’t busy? Still assess areas of your life. You may need to pause for a season in order to create some margin, but busyness alone is not a good reason to stop your pursuit of fostering or adopting.
“I’m not sure if I can do it.”
Move forward and share your concerns with those who will be training you or other foster and adoptive parents. It’s a red flag when individuals are overly confident in their abilities, so this is very common. Be honest about your concerns and find ways to overcome them if possible.
You’re having significant difficulties in your marriage.
Pause. A vast majority of children in foster care are coming from homes where there was abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Being placed in a home with acute and significant marital issues could add trauma to trauma which is the opposite of what we want.
You’re not sure how your kids will handle it.
Move forward. Have open and honest conversations with your children. Ask them if they have any fears or concerns. Take time to address them. Seek out other resources like children’s books on foster care or adoption that you can use to guide the discussion.
Are you facing a barrier to fostering or adopting? Decide if it is a move forward or pause barrier. If you still need help, find someone to help you navigate around it.
Which barriers to adoption and fostering traditionally scare you most?