Adoption FAQ #3: Why Don’t You Just Foster Adopt?

When we talk about adopting, the conversation usually goes like this…

“There are soooo many children that need families in America. Have you thought about Fostering-to-Adopt?”

Then I have to decide which answer to give…Usually I go with the long answer, but wish I was brave enough to say the short.


Short Answer: There ARE so many children that need families in America. Have YOU thought about Fostering-to-Adopt?

Long Answer: We agree, there are too many children in foster care in America. Our heart is broken for all orphans, no matter where they live.  Although fostering-to-adopt would probably be cheaper for us, the emotional stakes are higher. Call it selfish, but we don’t think we could handle the unknowns that go along with fostering. It would absolutely devastate our family to get attached to a child and have it not work out for one reason or another. We want a baby, and know the majority of waiting children are older. It is very important for us to keep the correct birth order of our children. Since Jonah is only 3 years old, we feel a baby would be best.

Don’t get me wrong—We have the utmost respect for those that choose fostering-to-adopt and have friends in the process. We just don’t think it is the right thing for our family at this time.

Does choosing to go internationally instead of fostering in our own country make us bad people? No. We fully believe God has led us to Ethiopia. We also believe that God has families picked out for all orphans. Maybe you might be one of them?


  1. THANK YOU!!! We get this question (or very close) ALL the time!! It’s usually more like, “Why China when there are so many children right here in the US who need homes…” And, my answer is pretty close to yours as well. I’ve actually been through the whole foster parent thing and as joyful and wonderful as it was, it was even more heartbreaking and near SOUL breaking for me…part of me left with those two children and my faith in the Dept of Human Services died. So, for me, fostering or fostering to adopt is really NOT an option. I know that those children need homes and I am thankful for the good foster parents who are out there. China has called to me since childhood and we, too, honestly believe we are being called there to find our daughter. So, thanks again for your post and maybe one day we’ll both be brave enough to give the “short answer”. 🙂 God bless your journey.

    • Thanks for sharing your story Donna! I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it would be to watch them leave. Blessings to you and your journey to China! That is another place we have felt drawn to in the past, but the wait is so long right now. Maybe next time 😉

      • We are actually going to through the special needs/waiting children in China…the wait time is MUCH less and we are a bit “older” so for us a toddler is a good choice as well. Special needs in China can be as simple as cleft lip/palate, birthmarks or other minor/correctable conditions. Of course, we must be realistic as we both work full-time and it simply wouldn’t be fair to a child who needed constant care or has severe needs.

        • We have friends that got a girl from China this past year. They waited a long time and then decided to go special needs and got a referral very quickly! She has a heart problem and a hip problem. She is such a joy to be around! Blessing to you on your journey! Thank you so much for sharing! I love sittin’ around the table discussing things with my Happy Brown House friends!

  2. Sara, I used to always say we were open to whatever we were led to. Last summer we went to the first meeting for the foster to adopt and realized it simply wasn’t going to work for many reasons (some out of our hands). I like to respond that every child is important. I’ve heard even recently foreign adoptions associated with the idea of “buying your baby” and it simply upsets me. What is the difference between being paid to take care of a child (such as the foster to adopt) or having to shell out money for expenses? I think people need to learn to be less judgmental and realize that when you want a child you begin to really not care where they come from so much as that they fit into your family.

    • So far it’s been an honest question and hasn’t made us feel attacked for our choices. There are some things broken…but I thought the same thing with some of the other countries we’ve looked into, too….Sigh. It leads me to ask the question, How do we change the way we handle orphan care? I may just turn into an activist someday.

      • I don’t think it’s always an attacking question, but it has been a hard one to answer. My easiest response is that I’ve always known I would adopt (since I was about 4), and since I was a teenager I felt called to do so internationally. My husband’s co-workers’ sister had a child that they raised from the time he was born until he was 18 months old, and he was given back to his mother a couple weeks before Christmas this year. To say they were devastated is putting it mildly. I think the foster to adopt program is great, and in many places works much more smoothly, but when we spoke with the people who run it here it was made very apparent to both of us that it simply wasn’t a hopeful situation.

        I do think we need to change the way we handle orphan care world wide. These children need to be taken care of as blessings not burdens.

        • I agree! At times it has been a hard one to answer for me, too. We didn’t even check into fostering, because we knew it wouldn’t be right for us. I think Jonah would have a hard time if we lost a foster child….not to mention me! I think so highly of those that do foster adopt! It takes guts that I don’t have! Thank you so much for sharing! I love having a discussion around my table with Happy Brown House friends!

  3. I get this question a lot. Sadly, the people who ask it are usually those doing very little about the orphan crisis domestically or internationally. I pray for an extra dose of patience to answer this one lovingly when I sometimes am tempted to be sarcastic.

    • It’s so hard to be patient when we get silly adoption questions, isn’t it Lara? I try to remember that with every grace-filled answer I give, someone’s eyes might be opened to the orphan crisis. (But sometimes, I really just want to be sarcastic…oh, the war within!)

  4. I thought this was a pretty silly question, if you don’t mind my saying so….

    “Does choosing to go internationally instead of fostering in our own country make us bad people? ”

    How could any family loving enough to take a stranger into their homes and accept them as family be bad people?

    Does it matter where a child comes from? A child is a child…. no matter where they were born or what color their skin.

    I can’t see how anyone could have a problem with you wanting to adopt a baby from Ethipoia or anywhere else. But – if they do have a problem – it’s THEIR problem. You are simply following God in the path that He’s chosen for you and if they don’t get it maybe they need to get a little closer to Him, so He can help them to understand.

    Personally, I can’t wait to see the baby pictures. And the cute little post about Jonah taking care of his younger sibling. And the cute little things he has to say about him/her. We will soon see great demonstrations of brotherly love that was not bound by genetics or geography. And we will learn.

    I can’t even begin to express how happy and anxious I am to see how wonderful this plays out for your family.

    And yes – I know there will be a challenge here and there – but, we have those with the children we give birth to, also – so really….. what’s the difference. You LOVE and you ACCEPT and you LOVE EVEN MORE!

    • I agree Patty, it is a silly question. Sadly, there are people that think we should “adopt from our own backyard” first. Unfortunately, the orphan crisis is worldwide. And I can’t wait to take the baby pictures!!!

  5. We get asked this question all the time. I’ve always planned on adopting and I always thought I’d do it through the foster care system. We had no idea that we would fall in love with a little girl from Ukraine and end up falling in love with a second child while we were over there adopting our first! Chances are we’ll still adopt from the foster care system somewhere down the road, but God in His sovereignty knew exactly what children needed to be in our home. Our daughters are the perfect fit in our family!

    So excited for you on your adoption adventure!

    • I wish I had known that you adopted when we were at Relevant! Thank you for sharing a piece of your story with me! I keep telling Mr. Happy Brown House that we should just go for 2!

  6. As a foster/adopt parent. And losing (returned home) two beautiful children after two years. . . we still feel called to this crazy process! And I’m so glad others are called internationally! We currently have two siblings, almost 3 year old is now legally free and in adoption process, her baby brother may go back home 🙁

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