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November is National Adoption Month. So, what does that mean? It’s a time to celebrate families created through adoption and recognize homes that have provided safe and loving environments for children and adolescents in need. It’s also a time to acknowledge and spread awareness for the continued need for adoptive homes, particularly for older children who are currently in foster care.

In my professional and personal background, I have experience with the foster care system, adoption through foster care, and private adoption. For almost a decade, I worked with foster youth, foster parents, and biological parents whose children were in foster care. This work showed me the immense need for foster parents in our country. Becoming a foster parent requires many things – most importantly, in my opinion, is an understanding of how trauma impacts a child’s emotional development and requires trauma-informed care. Every child in the foster care system has suffered some form of loss or trauma, but each child’s trauma is unique to them. Another incredibly important point for foster parents to understand is that the goal of foster care is actually not adoption; it’s reunification. In most cases, the permanency goal is to reunify a child with their biological family. Of course, this doesn’t always happen, but it’s important for foster parents to be supportive of this goal and to be supportive of the biological parents as they work to achieve this. In the case where a parent or parents are unable to safely take their children back into their care, the permanency goal is then changed to adoption.

I became a foster parent, myself, in 2017 and welcomed an eight-year-old girl into my home. I didn’t become a foster parent with the goal of adopting, but I was open to it. After a couple of years, her permanency goal was changed to adoption, and in 2021, I adopted her. Parenting a child with a trauma history is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done; it is hard to put into words for those who haven’t experienced it. While it’s certainly not been easy, and there have been many moments of self-doubt, I remember that I do this for her – to enable her to have more options in life, to have a place to call home without being worried about having to move unexpectedly and to have a safe space with someone who’s never giving up on her. My journey to parenthood was unexpected: adoption instead of biological children. A chatty, creative, and loving third grader who came to me with worn-out Hello Kitty pajamas, eight years of lived experience, and an intense need to be wanted and loved. Now, she is a freshman in high school, and we’re navigating the teen years as best we can!

My professional life has shifted from foster care to the world of private adoption. For the last 2+ years, I have had the incredible honor and privilege of helping families adopt in a way that is very different from my own adoption experience. Though adopting from foster care and adopting privately is different, some experiences are shared. Families and individuals go through an extensive assessment process and receive training. There is waiting and unknowns, and ultimately, a child. Private adoption, in most cases, means adopting a newborn. I work with all kinds of people – LGBTQ+ couples, couples who tried to conceive and struggled with infertility or high-risk pregnancies, and individuals who long to be parents. They provide loving, nurturing homes to children who need a home, not from foster care, but from birth parents who are making the informed and, I would say, loving choice to not parent their child for whatever the reason. The adoptive parents I work with start their parenting journey most often at the beginning of that child’s life, often having the opportunity to be present at the hospital for their child’s birth. It is a joy for me to get to know these families and celebrate with them when their baby is born.

Whether adopting through foster care or private adoption, families are built and grown in different ways, each bringing unique challenges and joy.

If you’re interested in learning more about adoption through foster care, contact Adoption Rhode Island: Adoption RI.

If you’re interested in learning more about private domestic or international adoption, contact me at cwild@jcsri.org.


Carol Wild is the program coordinator at Adoption Options, a program of Jewish Collaborative Services, where she has worked since June of 2021, maintaining agency licensure, overseeing all adoptive families in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, organizing all components of the home study process, and writing home studies. Before joining the staff at JCS, Carol worked in foster care services in Rhode Island, where she supervised parent-child visits, helped birth parents work towards reunification with their children in care, assisted with the placement of foster children, taught courses to foster parent applicants, oversaw ongoing education for licensed foster families, and oversaw the licensing process for foster parent applicants including training and writing home studies.

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