Monthly Archives: April 2017

Why we chose foster care rather than adoption

Can you believe it’s only been six weeks since R joined our family?!?  He so quickly became an integral part of the family that my younger boys told me they can hardly remember him not being part of our lives!

R - 10 weeks old (photography by Chani Ceitlin)

R – 10 weeks old (photography by Chani Ceitlin)

During this period, we’ve constantly been asked (literally in almost every conversation): “Why did you choose foster care rather than adoption?”   

The answer is simple, not based on idealism or preferences but need.  Here in Israel, babies with Trisomy 21 who are given up aren’t usually available for adoption – they go into the long term foster care system. And so we went where the babies who needed families were.

I have been very pained seeing babies with T21 being given up because of their diagnosis.  According to the placement social worker, they are the only children voluntarily given up as newborns – not those with much more complicated medical diagnoses or those with a more limited long term prognosis.

R - 10 weeks old

R – 10 weeks old

It was a combination of our strong family values and the desire to be part of the solution rather than complaining about the situation that prompted us to begin the qualification process to be foster parents specifically for an infant with T21.

“Practically speaking, what does it mean to foster?”

Our intention is to raise R as a member of our family in every way and unless his foster care status changes, he will be with us until he is an adult (age 21).  While in many ways this is very similar to an open adoption-  regardless of how we feel or what our intentions are, R is not legally our child.

031702049
That means that we will have social workers coming into our home at least monthly to check on him for the next two decades.  It means he has a different last name than my other children.  It means visits from the birth parents.  It means significant decisions for him have to made in conjunction with his birth parents and social workers, and my personal preferences regarding his care can be overridden. (It also means that I needed signed permission before posting any of these pictures!)

Most significantly, if his birth parents were to change their minds they could at any time take him back.  Though it’s unusual for children who were given up because of their special needs to later be taken back, it does happen.

031702033

I can’t lightly skip over this possibility because it has created a pervasive sense of unease within me that I didn’t anticipate.   I’ve shared this feeling with our social worker, and her answer is to sympathize but say, “This is the reality of foster care,” and to remind me that it’s the birth parents’ right to take him back whenever they want.

“Will R be able to be adopted at some point?”

When we were shown R’s file, we were asked if we were willing adopt him if his status changed.  We immediately said ‘yes’.  However, based on what was explained to us about why and when children are transferred to the adoption track, it seems to me the likelihood of him being placed for adoption is extremely low.

We didn’t go into fostering without a great deal of thought and discussion as a family.  We knew there would be challenges and we decided that letting fear of the unknown keep us from offering our home to a child in need wasn’t the right choice.

And though it would be understandable to hold back a tiny piece of one’s heart for self-protection, we’re not letting fear keep us from unreservedly loving our newest addition.

031702032

Though the external circumstances aren’t perfectly smooth,  we’re so happy and grateful he’s part of our family!

Avivah

**Thank you to the wonderfully talented, patient and sensitive Chani Ceitlin for her photography!**

bin borsalina

Our boys are in the new Borsalino ad

While many people are busy scrubbing their homes for Pesach and enlisting their children to work with them, instead three of my boys recently participated in the filming of an ad for a hat company.

Our neighbor was responsible for casting and that’s how we were contacted – it’s not the kind of thing we would have gone out of our way to be part of.  The boys were paid a token amount but the real gain was to be part of an interesting learning opportunity and it was with that intention that I agreed they could be part of it.

The video briefly showcases three major life events: the bris of a newborn baby boy, a bar mitzva celebration and a wedding.

Ds11 and ds9 are hard to find unless you’re looking for them but they’re there in the background scenes of the bris.  They were considering casting ds11 as the bar mitzva boy but the filming for the bar mitzva portion was done at the end of the day – it was a verrrry long day – and ds11 and ds9 came home before that so they only participated in the bris portion.

A fun surprise was that ds18 was cast as the bridegroom at the last minute so he ended up with a main part.  Initially they said they wanted someone with a lighter complexion, but once he was there they decided he was more suitable than the person they had chosen.  So he’s the easiest of our three boys to find.

Here’s the video:

Enjoy!

Avivah