Part of the foster care adoption process is meeting the child after the adoption match by the adoption agency. The agency social workers look at the strengths and needs of both the child and of prospective adoptive parents to decide who would fit together the best. The prospective adoptive family is also allowed to read the child's files before making their final decision.
The first meeting could be held at an agency office or in your home as respite if you're a licensed foster parent.
You and your family may have a lot of different emotions and concerns, especially if after the visit you're left with some doubts about the adoption match. So how do you know if the child is not a good fit?
You find yourself and your family not enjoying time with the child.
Characteristics of the child or the child's personality do not mesh well with your family.
Overall, you find the child to be annoying or unpleasant to be around.
The child's overall morals or values are different from your family's. This is beyond the child needing to be taught morals and values, but what the child finds important is vastly different.
Everyone in the family, including the child, feels like they have to mold or change themselves in order to better fit or get along.
You feel that you are not able to meet the child's needs, especially behavioral or emotional needs.
Your other children do not feel good about the adoption match. They seem to not be willing to interact much with the child.
You feel burdened with the decision and can't decide what to do. You may feel full of doubts and fears. Remember that there is a difference between caring for a child and that child's well-being and making that child a lifelong member of your forever family.
If you feel that the child is not a good adoption match, then notify your adoption social worker right away.
They need to know so they can continue looking for a family.
Don't let anyone guilt you into adopting a child that you or your family does not feel is a good fit. This would not be fair for you or the child.
People in your life who may put pressure on you to adopt a child may include:
The child's birth family – especially if you have been fostering the child. They may feel comfortable with you and want to know where their child will be living.
Your church family – Those who spend limited time with the child in short term environments may see a different side of the child and not fully understand the child's needs. Remember confidentiality; don't feel tempted to share or justify your reasons for saying no to the adoption match.
Friends and extended family – Again, they spend limited time with the child, especially if you're doing respite visits or short-term pre-placement visits. This is your forever and the child's, don't adopt trying to please others.
The child – This will be especially tough if you have been foster parenting the child for a while. The child may feel very safe and comfortable in your home, while you doubt the forever commitment to the child. If the child is visiting with you and your family after a possible adoption match, the child may feel so lost or scared that they want to hold on to any chance to have a forever family. Again, this is not a good reason to adopt.
You - Be aware that there are a ton of emotions involved with termination of parental rights and with the possibility of adopting a child. It is very tempting to want to adopt and parent a child out of emotion. Is that ultimately what is best for the child? Do you think the child will be able to tell if you aren't fully in love with them? Yes! I believe that every child deserves to have parents who think that the sun rises and sets with them. Remember, there are other parents waiting for a child who may be a perfect adoption match for this child. They may also find the things you find annoying, cute.
This will be one of the toughest situations you'll have to face. It is hard to say no to a child in need. Hopefully, you have a supportive social worker or therapist who will share your decision with the child. Do not tell the child without permission from the workers on the case. It may be more appropriate coming from a worker, a therapist, or the child's foster parent.