Like most aspects of life related to family and children, adoption is an emotional topic. That might be why foster-care adoption is so ripe for myth-making. At Sierra Forever Families (SFF), would-be parents often approach us with ideas that couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s clear up four common ones:
- MYTH #1: An adopting parent must be heterosexual and married; youthful but with loads of parenting experience, and an affluent homeowner.
TRUTH #1: If you’re healthy, economically stable and emotionally resilient, you probably qualify to adopt. It doesn’t matter if you’re LBGTQ, single, an apartment-dweller and/or living on a less-than-kingly income. Maturity is valued, so age isn’t a disqualifier, although health and capacity can be. Foster children come with particular challenges that experienced parents may find easier to manage out of the gate, but let’s face it, every mom and dad started as a non-parent.
- MYTH #2: Foster children are damaged and difficult to parent.
TRUTH #2: Children come to foster care due to abuse or neglect, not through any fault of their own. Such children do suffer from trauma, and every single one needs a family to help them heal. Children in care and their resource families are enveloped in a web of support that can include the Sierra Forever Families social worker, support groups, therapists and family support workers trained in trauma-informed care, a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) and school foster youth services worker, among others.
- MYTH #3: Birth parents can show up out of nowhere to reclaim their children.
TRUTH #3: Adoption is permanent and legally binding. After a court severs parental rights, the birth family has no legal claim to the child. Once a child is adopted, the adoptive parents have the same rights and responsibilities as if they had given birth. The adoptive parents may decide to maintain contact with birth family members because adopted children often do better with some knowledge of their birth family, but post-adoption contact is negotiable.
- MYTH #4: Being a foster parent is expensive. And after finalization, you’re completely on your own.
TRUTH #4: Resource parents receive financial assistance every month to pay for the child’s needs. Children in care also are covered by medical insurance. After adoption, parents typically receive a monthly stipend and health insurance for their child until adulthood. In addition, Sierra Forever Families continues to offer post-adoptive services such as support groups, therapy and behavior management coaching.
Since its founding in Nevada County in 1983, SFF has placed more than 3,950 children in permanent homes. In 2017 SFF provided services to more than 771 children. Children in care are aged birth to 18 and of every ethnicity and gender. However, youth between 6 and 18 have the greatest need for loving homes.
Sierra has three offices: Sacramento, Auburn and Grass Valley. With nearly 70 staff, Sierra is licensed to serve families in 12 Northern California counties including Amador, Butte, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Sierra, Solano, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba.