Has anybody here adopted (or fostered) while living w Lupus?
Hello all -
I am just wondering if anyone here has adopted or fostered kids while living with Lupus. I know there are many bio parents here with Lupus.
I am hoping to adopt a child through the foster system or international adoption. Of course, I am worried that my health might preclude me from doing so. I have started the research process and know a lot of the basics, but you can't get the specifics before starting the process, it seems.
Thanks for any info and personal experience you can share with me!
Hi, Missy. Although I have never adopted, I have handled several in the course of my job - and my boss has two adopted children, one from Vietnam, one from Korea. There are also several adopted children in my church. I will tell you up front that an international adoption can be a long, complex, and very expensive process - although the rewards are certainly worth it! Adopting through the foster care system is much less expensive, but has its own challenges, because children may be older or have special needs. There are currently over 100,000 children in the US waiting for adoption - you can see photos and case histories at www.adoptuskids.org. There are grants and tax incentives available to defray some of the expense, but the cost can easily run into the thousands of dollars.
As far as adopting with lupus, I will tell you that every reputable adoption agency and all 50 states require a "homestudy" before a child is placed for fostering or adoption. You are generally asked to provide a certificate of health from your doctor. Adoption is about the needs of the child, not the needs of the parent wanting to adopt, so you have to demonstrate that you have a stable home environment and adequate resources to care for a child.
Generally, as part of any home study, you have to provide an autobiographical statement about your background, provide copies of birth certificates for you, your spouse, and your children, pass a criminal records and fingerprint check, provide financial information and income verification, a statement of health from your doctor, and written references from friends, your employer, neighbors, etc. You will also be intervewed extensively about all aspects of your life, including your own childhood, your religion, views on parenting, marital relationships, leisure activities, your job history, what kind of support network is available to you, and what kind of child care arrangements you will make if you work. Specific homestudy requirements vary from state to state and some agencies may also require you to take classes or training but these are the basics of a homestudy. Depending on the state you live in, getting a homestudy done can take anywhere from two months to a year. The cost if you are having it done through a public agency is usually low or even free but you often have to wait longer. Using a private agency can be faster, but will also cost between $1,000 - $3,000, which has to be paid up front. In most circumstances, all this has to be done before any child is placed in your home, although exceptions and waivers are sometimes granted.
International adoptions are far more complicated and require much more expense, and usually require at least one parent to travel to the country of adoption, or even live there for a period of time. Requirements vary a lot from country to country, so it's much better to choose an agency such as Holt Children's services that specializes in international adoptions and can help you sort out all the visas and applications involved. You can also get information about each country's requirements from the U.S. State Department.
Because of the lupus, you will definitely want to make sure your doctor is on board and willing to state that you are physically and emotionally able to take care of a child. You will also need support from your family, because you will have to demonstrate that a support network is in place to care for a child if something happens to you. This is the same hurdle that single parents deal with in trying to adopt, so it helps if you have family members or relatives who live nearby. If your lupus is stable and there's no organ involvement, it shouldn't be a major problem - I have seen a couple of adoptions where the women had breast cancer, and both went through with no problem.
Best of luck!
Thanks, Marycain, for your input. Fortunately, I'm aware of the process because I've known people that have adopted, but none with a chronic illness. Of course, I am nervous that Lupus will affect my ability. I have had organ involvement, but have been steady for about two years, with only minor flares (nothing in lab work). I think you are right that I'm going to have to be sure my doctors are on my side on this one to be sure it happens. I really think they will be - they are very hesitant to say whether or not I should have a child biologically - I think they don't want to make that decision for me. But I don't think my body would handle it well, so hopefully they'll be supportive of adoption.
Well, biological parents don't have any guarantee that they will stay healthy either. And I've known several people with HIV who have adopted successfully, so I really don't think lupus should be any different. As long as your doctors and family are supportive, that should be what matters. And with so many children in need, I am sure there is a child out there to fill your heart and home. I've thought about adoption, even though I have children, I can't have any more, and I always wanted a BIG family (with nine siblings, four doesn't seem big to me). I could adopt pretty easily from the standpoint of finding a child - I have enough native american blood that I could adopt a child from one of the tribal orphanages - I sponser a couple already. But I've worried about the health issue too, so I'll be interested to see how it goes for you, Keep us posted on anything you find out, okay?
Hi Missy: Just wanted to respond to your post about fostering and adoption. First of all I live in Canada and our system although similar to yours may have its own uniqueness. I was a foster parent for many years, usually older children ages 8-17 . It can be a very rewarding experience and I was not looking to adopt these children. I have not been officially diagnosed with Lupus but have many of the symptoms and have a dx of UCTD, as well as fibromyalgia.
The issue of adoption I have no personal experience in so I will not comment but I have over 15 years experience in fostering. I fostered for 7 years quit and started again when I remarried.
In all honesty when I applied to be a foster parent I only had a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and my ability to function was looked at closely by our licencing agency. Like you I was in remission when I applied and functioning pretty well so this chronic situation did not deter the agency from giving my husband and myself a licence. I don't know if it would have been different if I would have wanted to adopt. My primary physician was the one to do the paperwork and it was her opinion of my health that mattered. At that time both she and I felt it would not be a problem.
Having said that, the second time around after fostering for the another 5 years (which is very stressful and 24 hours a day) my health began to deteriorate. I am not sure if fostering contributed to that but I would guess that it did as any stress impacts on our health. Children at any age need lots of love, attention and involvement. It is very difficult to be attentive and involved when you are ill or absent because of illness and any chronic illness is here to stay.
Please do not think I am trying to discourage you but I hope you are being realistic when you consider the effects on you and your health if you decide to foster. All foster children what ever age come into the system with a lot of their own issues. Most come from broken, dysfunctional homes and almost all have seen their fair share of violence and drugs. This leaves a very deep wound in the psyche of children and needs lots of time and TLC to get over. Some never get over it. Children play out this in a variety of ways but always behaviorally.
You need to ask yourself, could I handle a withdrawn suicidal child, or a violent acting out child, or a child that is sexually acting out on other children, or a baby that has been so neglected that it cries non stop. Remember these children have very high needs. Are you able to provide this 24 hours a day and what toll will it take on your health. How involved will your husband be and can he handle this and how will he feel if your health God forbid begins to decline. Will he blame you, the child or himself and can he manage if you are absent and have to go to the hospital because of a flare-up>
I realize I may be sounding a bit discouraging or even harsh but in all honesty that is the reality of fostering. It is tough, it takes incredible stamina, and patience and it is not like raising your own wee baby from birth (in most cases). Fostering can be very very rewarding but it is stressful. The placing agency is always looking over your shoulder, making judgements (providing little support) and often pointing their finger in judgement at foster parents if something goes wrong. Can you live with this?
I no longer foster, I lost my health now and am working very hard on trying to recover it. I continue to see, have dinner with and support many of the children that have lived with me. Others I never hear from or see. It certainly had its rewards but would I encourage another person with a chronic illness to enter into it even if they could get a licence. Well I won't answer that question because you never asked it?
Take care and hope whatever decision you make is the right one for you and your husband.
Thanks, Beautifulbeluga, for your input as well. The issues you brought up are all ones that my husband and I have been asking ourselves, so it's nice to know we are on the right track. Honestly, I don't think we would foster, rather adopt from foster system, but I did want to know about those families that had fostered, because they are the same kids.
Thanks, again, and since we are just starting to explore our options, it might be a while before I can update you all on how things have worked out.
It is very interesting to know, Marycain, about the families you have known with HIV that have adopted. I certainly would think that Lupus would be ok, too. Thanks, again, for your input.