From Foster Care to Adoption: One Family’s Story Disproves Myths
National Adoption Month Finds Matthews Family Celebrating, Spreading the Word to Other Families About Adoption Services from EMQ FamiliesFirst
CAMPBELL, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--For the Matthews family the foster care-adoption process has not only transformed the lives of some terrific kids in need but also the lives of the Matthews themselves. EMQ FamiliesFirst (EMQFF) (http://www.emqff.org/services/foster.shtml) helps families in 36 California counties through the foster care-adoption process. During November, National Adoption Month (http://www.emqff.org/press/pressroom/adoption_month.shtml) the agency will celebrate these families that disprove common myths about the foster-to-adoption procedure. EMQ FamiliesFirst is California’s largest children’s services agency.
“but we knew that so many children needed homes.”
Myth: Only people with a “perfect” history can adopt.
Reality: Sometimes, a parent’s previous life experience can be the best gift to a child. Perfection is not a requirement.
Even before Sarah Matthews and her husband were married, she knew she wanted to adopt children in need. She had spent a brief amount of time in a caring foster home as a teen and had known a number of children “in the system.” She knew they deserved better. Her future husband caught her enthusiasm. “We didn’t know what our family was going to look like,” said Sarah, “but we knew that so many children needed homes.” They have ended up with a still-growing family full of diverse ethnicities and ages, yet full of love and care.
Myth: There is too much “red tape” and bureaucracy involved in adopting a child from foster care.
Reality: Congress has streamlined the foster care adoption process through the Safe Families Act of 1997. Children that are not reunited with their birth parents are matched with permanent adoptive families as efficiently as possible.
The Matthews had one biological child before four-year-old Amy came to them as a foster child. “Amy’s adoption took roughly 18 months and went smoothly,” said Sarah.
Myth: Only infants are in need of being adopted.
Reality: The majority of foster children are six years and older.
The next additions to the Matthews family were half-sisters, five-year-old Sophia and eight-month-old Amanda. Being of Native American descent added the additional pre-adoption requirement of formally notifying their tribe, but the adoptions were still complete in just over two years.
Myth: Birth parents can take their children back.
Reality: Once parental rights are terminated, the birth parents have no further recourse for gaining custody of the children.
“Sometimes when you say the words ‘foster parent’ it can be intimidating to people,” Sarah said. “They say things like, ‘Oh, I could never handle giving them back.’ While those are valid concerns, each obstacle can be overcome. Our family is proof of that.”
The Matthews are so thrilled with their growing family and the foster-to-adoption process that they are planning a foster parent party to help spread the word about becoming a foster parent. “We want to encourage others to open their hearts to the possibility of adopting,” said Sarah. The Matthews also have thrown a party to celebrate each completed adoption within their own family. “We make a whole day of it. We invite our family and friends and have our pastor say a special prayer for our family. The gathering afterwards is quite a party – emotional, but incredible,” said Sarah.
Myth: Adoptive families are “on their own” after adoption is finalized.
Reality: EMQ FamiliesFirst offers post-adoption services, including clinical services, support groups and financial assistance.
EMQ FamiliesFirst adoption services continue long after the paperwork is finalized. From beginning to end, adoption social workers help with the legal process, work with families during the adoption-level home study, and make sure the adoptive assistance program is in place. We advocate for the family and facilitate between the family and the county. If a child needs mental health services, we’ll make a referral to best help that child.
The Matthews feel they still have room in their hearts and their home for a larger family and expect to complete another adoption soon. “We set out to improve the lives of children and have learned that it is our own lives that have been changed for the better,” said Sarah.
About EMQ FamiliesFirst
EMQ FamiliesFirst http://www.emqff.org/about/agency/backgrounder.shtml does whatever it takes to help children and families in crisis. The agency is recognized for innovative mental health treatment, foster care and social services that help families recover from trauma, abuse and addiction, and rebuild their lives. EMQ FamiliesFirst fights for sustainable change and advocates for improvements in the local, state and federal systems that serve children in need. For more information, please visit http://www.emqff.org.