A guest post by Marcy Bursac, author of “The Forgotten Adoption Option.”
Though many struggle with infertility, and consider expanding their family in alternative ways, there are few who consider Foster Care Adoption. Adoption can seem like a “Plan B,” C, or even D for many couples. But for Marcy and her husband, it was their “Plan A.” Today, I’m happy to welcome Marcy Bursac as she shares how God led her and her husband to adopt their children as they learned to pursue this incredible “Forgotten Adoption Option.”
The Fastest and Most Affordable Way to Adopt
Have you always wanted to adopt but you were turned off because finding information was difficult or you thought the price tag was thousands of dollars?
Yea, me, too. Adoption was something my husband and I talked about as our Plan A before we even got married. We shared a heart for helping older children (meaning older than a baby). His paternal grandpa was orphaned in the 1920s when both of his parents died from illness. Grandpa Sam had two older siblings that were taken in by another family, but Grandpa Sam spent his life on the streets and sleeping in the back of a grocery store. As Sam entered his twenties, he became very familiar with local law enforcement. After being caught by the police yet again, the officer told Sam this was the last time he wanted to see Sam in the back of his car as he dropped Sam off in a church parking lot. Sam walked in and met his future wife, began a used car business, and got involved with the church. He taught Sunday school and became a deacon as well. My husband’s father always said if the church was open Sam was usually there. As a result, caring for “orphans” was not some far off idea for my husband, but deeply personal, and close to home.
My motivation to adopt was driven by service projects. I had the opportunity to serve at a crisis nursery for children in my city while in high school and then in an orphanage in Moldova (the poorest country in Europe) when I was in my early 20s.
There was a specific young lady, Olena, who I spent a lot of time with. She asked me all sorts of questions through our translator, Vasily. At the time, I wasn’t married and wore a purity ring, one with an Irish Claddagh. One of our last days together, I ended up giving Olena my ring because she knew what it meant and I wanted her to know that she could make that kind of commitment to herself and God, too. Leaving the orphanage was so hard emotionally. I wanted to help all the children have a family. I didn’t know where or how, but I knew that one day I would be bringing a child home. However, it wasn’t until my husband and I really started talking about adoption that we decided to adopt someone from our own backyard.
I spent 5 years researching adoption and often lost interest thinking about the heaps of money I would need to raise before adopting my two children (who are biological siblings) through the foster care system.
That was because at the time I did not know there are children in the United States who are waiting to be adopted at very little or no cost to the adoptive family.
You see that third option there, right? Foster Care Adoption.
Foster care adoption often gets confused with foster care. But they are not exactly the same. Foster care is when a child needs a temporary place to stay while their biological caregivers work on becoming more stable and safe. The goal of foster care is for children to reunify (go back to) their biological families. And that happens 50% percent of the time. The other 50% of the time, the child becomes legally free to be adopted. Many do not know that there are children in foster care who are ready to be adopted and you can adopt them without being a foster parent.
At the present time, there are 120,000 children who are ready to be adopted and you can see photos and read a short bio about some of them at AdoptUSKids.org.
Caring for children who do not have a family is something the Bible commands us to do. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27.
How to Get Started
If you are interested in adopting through foster care, first be sure you and your significant other are on the same page. Oftentimes one person in the relationship will be eager and the other will be reluctant. I am the type of person that wants to jump right in and my husband is the type that wants to sleep on things. My husband was reluctant because he was content with our lifestyle without children. You can hear more about how his heart shifted in my Finding Forever Families podcast episode “Meet Nathan – Adoptive Dad (who also happens to be my husband!).
Here are examples of things my husband and I talked about as we were preparing to adopt:
- How many children were we open to adopting? We landed on up to 2.
- What age range of children were we open to? We landed on ages 4-11 and ended up as the pre-adoptive home of a pair of 3- and 4-year old siblings.
- What 3 priorities did we desire to keep in our lives? His were art, exercise and date night. Mine were sleep and exercise.
When you’re ready, the best way to get started is to pick an agency for your licensing. You can ask a friend who is a foster parent or has adopted through foster care for an agency they recommend or you can find a local agency in your state by using this simple search tool from AdoptUSKids.org. For those in the St. Louis area where I live, I recommend One Heart Family Ministries for those who want to bring their faith into their adoption journey. And I recommend the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition for those who want to have a more neutral approach.
You’ll go through training to get licensed (this takes a few months) while simultaneously your licensing worker writes a home-study (think of this has an overview) about your family. Once you’re licensed, you’ll be eligible to apply to adopt a child(ren) who is waiting. Once you are picked as the pre-adoptive family, you’ll meet the child(ren) for a few hours at a neutral location (this might mean a park or restaurant), then they will be allowed to spend the weekend with you, and eventually they will start living with you. After the child(ren) live with you for 6 months you are able to go to court to finalize your adoption (legally become a family). Sometimes the dynamics between a chosen family and the waiting children does not mesh. As the adoptive family, you have the choice to move forward or to halt pursuing specific children.
What You Need to Know About Foster Care Adoption
You’ll likely need to be in the driver’s seat.
This is similar to how you may have been coached to take care of your health. You are your #1 advocate. The same is true when pursuing foster care adoption, you will need to stay on top of following up, speaking up, and being honest with yourself and your significant other. My children were a legal-risk placement which means they were nearing needing an adoptive home but at the time legally this wasn’t how things were. The wait was estimated to be 4 months and ended up taking 18 months. You can read more about my family’s journey and how I grew as a person through this process on my blog.
Being afraid and having fears is normal.
In my book “The Forgotten Adoption Option: A Self-Reflection and How-To Guide for Pursuing Foster Care Adoption”, I share with you what I share with friends and friends of friends who have come into my home to learn how I adopted my children. I even devote a whole part to fears, both adult fears and child fears. The adult myths I hear most often are:
Adopting children who have memories before you requires you and your significant other to be aware and equipped.
You might need to obtain skills and training on how to be supportive and open-minded as your child(ren) grows and shares things with you. Great resources are The Connected Child and its accompanying workbook Created to Connect: A Christian’s Guide to The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis, and the Hope for the Journey Conference. My family has also engaged in play therapy both for my children and as a way to bond as a family.
By becoming aware that adopting children through foster care is a great need and also a very affordable option, I hope you take this article and share it with others you know who are considering adoption. Whether you need someone to help demystify the foster care adoption system, divulge your adoption fears with, or to come up with alternatives when you aren’t getting answers, I welcome you to contact me as you take your next steps on your adoption journey. In the meantime, you can find me playing board games or making art with my two children and husband. And on warm days, I can be found along the Missouri River on a bike ride with my family and our two small dogs.
I’m eager to hear about your heart for adoption! Your questions and curiosities are welcomed. I purposely reserve time each week to help others sort through this process and fears that arise. You can reach out to me on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.