Claire’s Adoption Story
June 22, 2016
Claire first came to UMFS as a treatment foster care placement after she had become aggressive towards one of her younger sisters. As with many foster placements, Claire’s treatment foster care was intended to be temporary, with the goal for her to return to her family.
Treatment foster care through UMFS provides foster parents with training and support to care for a child with challenging mental, emotional and behavioral health needs.
UMFS staff worked with Claire to help her develop healthy relationships with her sisters and biological parents by arranging weekly supervised visits, some of which even included a play therapist to incorporate the family therapy with her sisters. As time passed and weekly individual therapy continued, Claire was never able to complete therapy with her biological family. Visitations with her biological parents became less frequent due to their struggles with law enforcement and incarceration. Eventually the Department of Social Services terminated their parental rights over concerns of their ability to keep the children safe.
Claire grieved over the separation with her biological parents and often asked if she could visit them, UMFS staff even advocated for them to write a letter to Claire and her sisters to say goodbye, release them to adoption, and give them permission to move on and be happy in their foster homes. Unfortunately, the biological parents were unable to write the letter. UMFS then discussed with the foster parents how it would be beneficial to Claire and her sisters to remain connected, the foster families agreed and coordinated monthly visits where each family was responsible for one month at a time, rotating the planning and activities each month.
Claire’s foster parents grew to love her and felt like she was already part of the family, they were ready to adopt and officially add Claire to their family. Claire loved her foster parents and wanted to live with them but she began to challenge and disrespect her foster parents, and, at times, said she wanted to return to her biological parents and not to be adopted. It was clear that Claire was struggling to express her love and loyalty to both her foster parents and her biological parents, fearing that she would have to choose. She was worried that her biological parents would forget her and that if she were adopted she would no longer have visits with her siblings. Through therapy Claire was able to understand that she could love her two families, both foster and biological, and was able to write a letter to her biological parents expressing her love for them. This letter helped Claire emotionally and mentally prepare for her adoption.
As the year progressed, Claire and her foster parents took great steps to work on their relationship and Claire, once again, flourished both at home and in school. She was excited about officially becoming part of the family and often would ask when her adoption date was. UMFS collaborated with social services and the foster parents to work through the adoption process and time frame. Finally, after two years with her foster parents, Claire was adopted.
Claire’s adoptive parents continue to visit with UMFS and have said that, although people often thank them for what they have done for Claire, opening their hearts to a child in need, that they feel like the blessed ones, and believe that Claire has given as much to them, as they have to her.
Today Claire is a bright, energetic, affectionate, happy 11 year old girl who loves singing, going to church, spending time with friends and family and is learning to play the violin. Claire’s story perfectly demonstrates how important commitment is to a child. Even when behaviors and goals change, when things go differently than planned, unwavering love and commitment to a child is the best path towards a permanent family.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy of individuals in this real-life story.
To learn more about becoming a foster parent visit umfs.org/foster