adoption, family, fostercare, parenting

Am I the “Right” Parent to Adopt This Child?


Am I the right mother for this child? Is this the right family for this child? Is this the right child for us? These are the questions I often hear in the adoption community. These are questions adoptive parents ask themselves when the children begin to exhibit emotional problems and difficult behaviors. These are questions that haunt adoptive placements. And I have the answer.

In a word, “no.”

I am not the right mother for anyone. I am not a saint or a savior to my children. I’m a curly-haired, highly caffeinated, slightly befuddled woman on my best days. On my worst days? I’m grumpy and discombobulated and I serve cereal for breakfast instead of pancakes and bacon. I spend all day herding chickens only to realize at 2:00 AM that one of the 6 had a psychiatrist appointment I completely missed that day. I am not perfect.

My kids are not “lucky” to have me. I read to them and snuggle them and kiss their boo-boos. I help with homework. Sometimes I bake cookies. Sometimes I burn the cookies and show up late to football practice.

I soothe intense tantrums. I am used to my children flying into a rage at me the moment they realize how much they love me. I sing crazy off-key songs to soothe their fears over showering, going to school, or unexpected spiders. I have been hit, kicked, bitten and scratched. My love and super-parenting skills do not cure disorganized attachment or reactive attachment disorder. I can’t wipe away my childrens’ past traumas or banish their nightmares. I can, however, make hot cocoa at 3 AM when my 14-yr-old son wakes up sobbing that he is afraid of his closet.

When they came into our home they started to fall apart. their past wounds and hurts all came out. They disclosed information about their pasts that they’d never spoken about with their social worker.They admitted how hard it was to sleep at night and sought our help, whereas in foster care they simply dealt with these fears amongst themselves. Yes, they fell apart when they began to trust us. They trusted us enough to let us see their hurts and their distress. They trusted us to help them to find healing.

No, I am not the “right” parent for my children. They have PTSD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder. They are traumatized beyond anything I’ve ever seen before.  How could I possibly ever be enough? How could we meet all of their needs? Isn’t there someone out there better qualified to raise this sibling group?

In a word, “NO!”

The right parent for any child doesn’t exist. It’s a myth, a lie we tell ourselves, the Santa Claus of adult culture in America.

I am not a hero adopting these kids. My husband and I are not saints as so many have told us. On my best day, I’m just a normal parent.

No, I’m not the “right” mom, but I am their mom. And that is all I have to be. No one could ever love them this much. No one would ever try as hard. I  am not perfect. I am not a super hero. I am something more. I am “mom.”


13 thoughts on “Am I the “Right” Parent to Adopt This Child?

  1. rosy hultgren says:

    Bless your heart!
    We have 5 biological children, have fostered 27, adopted 3. We are now in our 60’s with 5 grandchildren and God has sent 3 orphaned sisters into our lives. We have insisted for weeks we’re not the right parents!
    Nobody could love these girls more! Thank you for helping us see clearer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The right parents are the ones who try, the ones who care. You are clearly the “right” ones for your 8 kiddos and the 27 you fostered. I love to hear stories like this one. Enjoy your next journey with these 3 girls!


  2. Thanks for following my blog (Newsmomgering), so that I can read all your insights. I was told recently by my adoptive daughter that she “hates” me (this involved installing an app. on my phone that locks her out of her Ipad). I think I am becoming a better kind of “right” for her with each new experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The fact that you recognize their trauma, the fact that you recognize that no one and nothing can ever be enough, the fact that you allow them to open up to you and speak their truths, the fact that you allow honor their difficulties…..that makes you right for them. Will you always make the exact right decision or tell them exactly what they needed to hear every single time?Of course not. You’re human. But your ability to truly see and honor your foster and adopted children for everything they are going through makes a huge difference. Take it from an adoptee who never had that. Keep doing what you’re doing!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Cocaine Donut Mom | Herding Chickens and Other Adventures in Foster and Adoptive Care

  5. I know this post is 2 years old, but just yesterday one of the case workers for my little ones asked me if I thought I was the best home for my 6-year-old foster daughter. I honestly didn’t know how to answer because I let my guilt about being a single mom cloud my ability to see what good I have to offer. What you said really struck a cord with me – the best family for a child is the family who cares and who won’t give up on them. The powers that be want my daughter to be recommended to a therapeutic foster home, meaning she would need to leave our home (I have a teenage adopted son and my daughter’s little brother who is 3). I am not trained in therapeutic foster care and my agency doesn’t offer that level of care. I was told, by various professionals, I cannot help my daughter and it just tears my heart out. They won’t go through with the adoption with things in the state they are at the moment, so I feel like I have to acquiesce to their decision. My hope, and what I have expressed to anyone who will listen to me, is that this is temporary and she will be able to return home once the behaviors stabilize. It’s all so, so hard!


    • Hi Ashley! Thank you for reading. I feel the pain in your words. I can’t tell you what the right choice is but I do know one thing. Therapeutic foster parents don’t actually have that much more training or more skills. Just more social worker support. Moving your daughter will be traumatic for her. You sound exactly like a mother. Who else would love her as much? It breaks my heart that social workers don’t place value on love and stability! It’s the number one protective factor in healing from trauma. With that said, your daughter may go through periods her whole life. Our girl was better and stabile for a long time. And then she wasn’t. You can read the posts about Mary and have a look at how hard it may be. But maybe not. Best of luck. Please let me know what happens.


      • Just a quick note to follow up, almost a year later! My daughter never left my home. There was massive miss-communication between what I was asking for and what CYS heard. They tried sending her to her grandmothers to be with her older sister, which would have been a total disaster. In the end, both my daughter and son (her little brother) were adopted this past April (2018). Since the adoption, things with my daughter have improved slightly. She does not have a RAD diagnosis, but she does have attachment issues. She has been diagnosed with ADHD and ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder). Play therapy has helped us connect a bit better, but as you said, this is a life-long marathon. Still, I see improvements as she matures and I hope for the best for our future. Thank you for your words of wisdom. Wishing you all the best!



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