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By Rita Soronen
President and CEO, Dave Thomas Foundation
As we work to raise awareness about adoption from foster care, we frequently share stories of amazing families formed through adoption. We do this to show that families built this way are just as viable as those formed biologically. By showing success, we encourage participation. Others who see a family brought together by foster care adoption may believe, “If they can do it, I can too!”
But we get so caught up in the remarkable stories we hear that we may occasionally overlook the reasons these children came into care, and the impact it has on their lives and the lives of the family members that have joined once an adoption has been finalized. When Nia Vardalos talked about her adoption during her nationwide book tour, adoptive moms made it loud and clear that raising an adopted son or daughter is not all roses and sunshine.
Children who experience or witness violence, face traumatic loss or grief, or live with extreme instability in foster care, also may experience painful mental or physical health effects. In fact, one study of foster care alumni showed that they experienced post-traumatic stress disorder at two times the rate of U.S. war veterans. Understanding the trauma a child has experienced, and the challenges families may encounter post-adoption, can help assure that families formed through the foster care system stay intact and thrive.