Foster - Adopt
Is it Worth It?
A 30 + Year Journey in Fostering Children

From "Honeymoon" to "Test and Try."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Kathy Blomquist
See Also

One misconception about Foster Care or Foster Adopt that I have run into is that when you bring a foster child into your home, they will be so grateful to you that they will just be the sweetest, most perfect little Angels. 

The other misconception is that they are so messed up and difficult that  they will cause  problems with everyone in your family and are just not worth the stress and conflict.

Many will be Angels for a few weeks or so.  We call this time the Honeymoon period.  They can be sweet and cooperative and show you their best.   Within a few weeks you will see a change.  Now it is time to test and try you.  "Will you love them unconditionally?"  “Just what will it take for them to throw me out? “  "How far can I take things before you lose your temper?”  “What will happen then?”  "Will you hurt me too?”  “Can I trust you?“  "Let me prove to you how unlovable I am.”

This time can be very trying and difficult to get through. You may even consider sending the child back or disrupting the adoption. 

But if you can understand what is happening and can hang in there, you will be telling the child that he can be as difficult as possible and you will still love him.  You won’t hurt him.  You won’t get rid of him.  You are an adult he can trust.  You will love him unconditionally.  He is worthy of being loved and wanted.

Then the real joy of fostering begins.  The child may repeat the cycle more than once.  But when you see him start to trust and to grow and begin to be happy and do well, that is the greatest reward of all.

If you give up too soon, you not only miss this rewarding experience but will add to the child’s mistrust of adults, lower his self worth,  and increase his hardships.  So, I really encourage you to commit to hanging in there and giving the child a chance to work through the test and try period.

Sometimes you will get a child that seems to stay on the honeymoon. These are easier kids, but are scarier kids for me.  When a child is acting out they are telling you something, making it easier to know when something is bothering them or what their triggers are.  

With the sweet, quiet ones, it can be all held inside and hidden.  Then it is less obvious and much harder to find needs and help them through things.  You need to watch them closer.

Sometimes a child might skip the honeymoon all together and come in testing and trying immediately and not leave it for a very long time.  Hold on because this can be a very big roller coaster ride.  The key is just that – hold on.  Because the reward at the end can also be much bigger.

There are times you need to recognize that a child may be triggering something in you and bonding with them may not happen.  Read the section on “Why  So Many Moves”  for more on that topic.