Dad Joseph Bostick (read his story here) recently shared his experience as a foster and adoptive dad with our Instagram community via a question and answer session - did you feel nervous at the beginning? How did you start the process? Did you always know that you wanted to foster older kids?
Read Joseph's responses below.
1. What was the hardest / best part of being a foster dad?
"The hardest part of being a foster dad is accepting what that title means. You are there temporarily to help and guide which means just about the time you feel you are making progress is when you inevitably have to let go for them to return home. The best part is that you get to show children an entirely different world which can give them hope for the future."
2. I'm planning on being a single foster parent, would the process take as long as yours?
"The process is different for everyone depending on the choices you make on how to adopt starting with whether you choose a public or private agency. Our process was slightly longer. From start to finish it took several years to be given the opportunity to adopt but we chose to go through CPS (public). Private agencies can be less time but significantly more money. So start now :)"
3. It was difficult to adopt your kids!
"Yes it was. It was difficult to find open-minded case workers to advocate for a same sex couple. It was difficult to get agencies to select us as the best parents. It was difficult to find judges who would support the adoption and it was difficult stay positive through all the set backs. But, the moment our sons became ours all those difficulties faded away and joy took it's place. I would go through it again to get these two."
4. Did you feel nervous at the beginning and what was the best experience with adopting a child?
"Nervous? We were frightened! But you learn quickly that most of your peers who are adopting and going through the classes with you are just as scared. From that vulnerability, you create a support group and network of remarkable people. The best experience is having someone call you their dad. And truthfully, the experiences get better everyday."
5. Hello beautiful family. My hubby and I are going to be fost/adopt parents soon. Just to say thank you.
"I highly recommend fostering to adopt. While it can be heartbreaking when a child returns to their biological parents, it is also a great way to learn about yourself and the kind of parent you want to be. Another great part is that you are in the driver's seat. Take the classes, become certified and then accept a child into your home when you are ready."
6. How do you get started with the process?
"The first step is deciding whether you want to go through a public or private agency. CPS exists in most states and is a relatively cost free way to adopt a child. Private agencies vary from state to state and are usually expensive. But make no mistake! The pool of children is the same. No matter what agency you choose you will have access to the same children. So why choose private then? Typically when you pay you are selected to adopt more quickly."
7. What are some of the challenges to expect if we decided to "foster to adopt"?
"The only challenges that I can guarantee you will experience is that you will be heartbroken, disappointed and confused. Heartbroken that a child you love will be returned to their biological parents, Disappointed that you weren't chosen to adopt a child you had your heart set on. Confused why it seems everyone around you is having an easier time starting a family. But all this will make you a better parent and, I promise, your child is on the way!"
8. How do you juggle working full time and also being a dad?
"It takes a village. We have a vast network of friends who do not hesitate to jump in to help my husband and I keep our family running. Without them I don't know how we would do this."
9. What is it like being a gay couple and raising an interracial family!?!
"For the most part it is the same experience as any other family. However, we do find that people are more inquisitive about our family in a positive way. Sure, people stare sometimes. And sometimes they even approach us to express themselves. But we they do, it is usually to provide a compliment, show solidarity, or simply thank us for being adoptive parents. The love people share far exceeds any negativity we have ever experienced."
10. I would like to adopt a kid but I am single.
"Foster and adoptive parents are in high demand. Single or otherwise, I guarantee your community needs adults willing to foster and/or adopt children. Your relationship status will have no bearing on your acceptance as an adoptive parent."
11. Did you know when you started that you wanted to foster/adopt older children vs an infant/toddler?
"Love this question! By first fostering children, we learned so much about what we are capable of handling. Everyone wants an infant (even us when we began) but we learned after our first infant that ages 4 & up was more our speed. Listen, we all think we know what kind of parent we are going to be but we only truly learn when we are put to the test. I recommend being a foster parent first :)"
12. How did you know that fostering was the right path for you?
"We didn't. We were guided into fostering by our case worker. She offered fostering as a way for us to show our commitment to parenthood to the state. The idea is to help foster children and eventually you will be rewarded with the chance to adopt. While it took longer than we anticipated, it worked our for us in the end."
13. What are the three big tips you'd give to someone starting the foster parent journey?
"(1) Be honest with your agency. There is no shame in having preferences when it comes to age/race/gender of the child you want to help. Only you know what you can handle.
(2) Figure out the kind of parent you want to be. You will never be prepared for every situation you will face as a parent but having a baseline will guide you.
(3) Get your support system in place now. Kids will come to you on a moment's notice. Have your squad ready to react to get you everything you will need so that the child feels comfortable."