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Adoption should mean a forever family

by Jason Schepers, Foster Alumni and True Up Peer Network Member

When I went into foster care at age 14, I always thought I’d get to go back and live with my grandma again. It took a lot of time to accept that I may have to spend my life with someone else. I was resistant at first, but my state worker was very adamant about my goal of being adopted. 

My first foster mother knew I wanted to go home, so she didn’t plan on adopting me. Once this was known to my worker, I was promptly moved – from a safe environment, to a not so safe one. I stayed in that home for 3 years just trying to wait it out so I could eventually go home when I turned 18. 

My grandmother’s position only got worse, and she was very sick by the time I turned 17. Deep down I knew she didn’t have long, so I let myself open up to the adoption idea a bit. In fact, my French teacher showed interest one day after she found out I was in the system. I was excited about what a new family would mean for me, what it would be like to finally have that normal family life, but I quickly realized that adoption wasn’t going to fix my problems. 

My grandmother who raised me, passed a few months before the adoption was finalized. So I was going through a lot, but my newly adopted family only took my struggle as being “difficult.” “A menace to society,” I was even called, by people who promised to love me and give me a forever family. 

The adoption was terminated a couple of months after it was finalized. I was homeless and had no place to go, but still had to make sure I was in court for the adoption termination. (Luckily I had a few friends with empty couches.) My adoption ended, my inheritance gone, and I no longer had the forever family I was promised. 

Going through all of this, I still find it hard to accept that I wasn’t the problem. I still hold on to the “I wasn’t good enough” mindset. As someone who has experienced the hardship of a failed adoption my advice would be: If you plan on adopting and making a lifelong commitment, please make sure you are committed to that youth, regardless of their age or anything else. Just give the love that was promised to that child, these things will affect those youth for the rest of their lives.

November is National Adoption Month and there are thousands of Kentucky youth in foster care without a permanent family. What can you do to help youth in foster care looking for a permanent family? Check out kyfaces.ky.gov for resources from The Cabinet For Health and Family Safety and the Kentucky Department for Child Behavioral Services on adoption in Kentucky. Check out partners in the Face It Movement who support fostering and adopting families in Kentucky.

Visit www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/nam/ to share resources and tools, and spread the word about #NationalAdoptionMonth.