Judges say it is one of their favorite parts of being on the bench – the happy moment when a child and their new family come to court to finalize an adoption of a child in foster care. To reach this final step, however, many Utah families say it’s all about embracing uncertainty. This is one family’s story.
Adoption is possible when children cannot reunify with their families. Last year, 344 Utah children in foster care were adopted by foster parents. However, teens often wait longer for permanency than younger children and are at a higher risk of aging out. As we recognize National Adoption Month in November, there is a renewed effort in Utah to make sure older kids and teens have a connection to a family.
Emotional Ups and Downs
“I tell people that our fostering journey is the HARDEST thing I have ever done and the BEST thing that I have ever done,” says Dawn Dart, who lives in Price. “But loving a child who so desperately needs it makes it worth the hard work and uncertainty.”
Fostering and foster care adoption is indeed a family effort. Dawn’s oldest daughter Lexi says she saw it as part of her job to make the children who came into her home feel loved and at home.
“My job was completely focused on my new sibling (or siblings),” says Lexi. “The first few weeks after a child is placed in your home could be the first time they have felt love or appreciation. This is the time to teach them they are safe, they are loved, and they have a purpose. Life can be better than it has been.”
As Lexi puts it, “Foster care is hard, but also extremely rewarding. I wouldn’t change being a foster sister for the world.”
Another foster parent describes it this way: “In most cases, the kids in foster care come into our home not trusting adults. It is the children already in our home who have bridged the gap until we can earn their trust.”
“My parents always told me not to expect anything, because the opposite always happens,” continues Lexi, now in college. “If they tell us these kids will only be with us for two weeks, it will be a year. Or if we’re told adoption is likely, they’ll be gone in a month. You can’t expect anything and that is one of the hardest parts of foster care.”
“Be prepared for emotional breakdowns,” she advises. “These kids have been taken out of their homes, they have possibly lived in a shelter, and then brought to live in a new home – all in just a few days.”
“During this time, you have to be patient, even though it will be hard. In some cases, the kids will cry nonstop and refuse to eat or sleep. They will even blame you for their parents’ decisions.”
For the kids who did reunify, the Dart family maintains the connection by keeping in touch as an extended family. To find out more about adoption through foster care, full out the form below or join us at Utah Foster Care events.
Questions about foster care adoption in Utah?
We have a team of people near you who can answer them!