Prospective foster parents must expect to be provoked and pushed away by the foster child.

Prospective foster parents must expect to be provoked and pushed away by the foster child.

Heidi Blauen: "We are not allowed to give out names, addresses and dates of birth without the consent of the birth parents, but we will support you in finding them and, if desired, in contacting them." General information about reasons for adoption may, however, be given without consulting the birth parents.

The desire for an infant 

Most of the children given up for adoption are infants and are accepted into the household of the adoptive parents immediately after the maternity hospital. However, birth parents can give their consent to adoption by a notary at the earliest eight weeks after the birth. With this, the legislature wants to give these parents time not to make any hasty decisions immediately after the birth of the child. Many adoptive parents are afraid of having to give back a child they have already taken in until the birth parents have given their notarial consent. With the admission of the adoptive child, the so-called adoption care period begins, which according to the law should be appropriate and which is usually one year for an infant. The consent of the birth parents is valid for three years. If the adoption is not pronounced during this period, parental custody returns to the biological parents.

Option: adoption from abroad

The fact that a child may not be placed and the indefinite waiting time for an adoption by the German authorities prompt quite a few potential adoptive parents to adopt a foreign country. But here too, the first point of contact should always be the local youth welfare office.

Different variants are possible

Adoptions do not have to be incognito and rarely do so in this strict form. The biological parents make the specifications – the applicants are selected accordingly. In open forms of adoption, for example, information is exchanged between the birth parents and the adoptive parents with the help of the placement office, or personal contacts are even made. "Some birth parents would like to have a few words about the child after the adoption, about its development and photos, while others meet with the adoptive parents at regular intervals." However, these open forms must be wanted on all sides.

Giving up your child for adoption is not an easy decision

Parents or mothers who give their children up for adoption are usually in a very difficult personal situation in which they do not see themselves in a position to raise the child according to their ideas and wishes. It is therefore not a reprehensible decision, on the contrary a very responsible decision towards the child. Because it means giving the little one a new chance for a fulfilled life that they can live in a family that has wanted exactly that. And to which it will belong for its entire life – like a biological child too. "Giving up your child for adoption is a conscious choice for the child, not for yourself" says Heidi Blauen from the Nuremberg Youth Welfare Office. She and her colleagues in the adoption agency accompany women through this difficult process and perceive it as very stressful and painful for the mothers and parents. From a global perspective, most mothers are left to their own devices in this situation.

A long process

But even the adoptive applicants do not make their decision to adopt a child lightly. It often takes a lot of time to think about it. The reasons why someone wants to take this step are not insignificant. If couples or even single people have decided to adopt a child, that won’t happen overnight either. Applicants must go through an aptitude test. But even in this process you are not left alone by the youth welfare office. "It is always a path that you accompany in an advisory capacity. Step by step" stresses the social worker. "You have to imagine it like a staircase where you can and must ask yourself anew at each step: ‘Do I want to go on?’ Every couple takes their own path, their own time, to make such an important decision." Once the aptitude test has been completed, there is usually the anxious time of waiting for a child.

Getting to know each other possible

If a child is to be placed in an adoptive family on behalf of the parents, the wishes and ideas of the mothers or parents for the future of their child come into play. The future adoptive parents are selected based on this. The adoptive applicants then receive as much information and support as possible from the placement office in order to be able to decide whether they would like to take this child in. "At the request of the birth mother, we can organize an introductory meeting between the mother and the applicant" reports Heidi Blauen.

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We are not looking for children for parents, but for parents for children

Incidentally, the wishes of the biological parents play a major role in the placement. "Each of these mothers primarily wants their child to be accepted and loved by the adoptive parents, and of course the transferring parents also assume that the adoptive parents have good economic and social security." But there are also other wishes. The future parents should live in the country, have pets, have studied or not, they should already have an adopted child or should not exceed or fall below a certain age. The possibilities are many.

Foster parents need a lot of patience and have to be able to endure frustration. Because the children they admit often come from difficult backgrounds. But with outside support, couples can give the foster child a new family – and make them strong for life.

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Parent service
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Problems and crises are programmed

For many, family is the most important value. Those who are satisfied in their own life want to pass on some of their happiness – perhaps to a foster child. The difficult task can certainly be mastered if you prepare yourself for problems and crises from the outset.

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Foster parents must meet these requirements

Municipalities, but also church or private organizations, offer contact points for couples, families and individuals who want to take in a foster child. Prospective foster parents should enjoy children, be patient and empathetic, and have enough time to socialize. Secure financial circumstances and sufficient living space are also required. Foster parents must also present a police clearance certificate, a medical certificate and usually a certificate of earnings.

Foster children need a lot of support

The task you have chosen yourself is usually not easy. "Around 30 percent of foster children have behavioral problems. You and your caregivers need professional help" says Elisabeth Helming from the German Youth Institute in Munich (DJI). About 43 percent of the children are to be assessed at the limit of the need for treatment. Aggressiveness, attention disorders and disturbed social behavior can push even highly motivated foster parents to their limits. "This is one of the reasons why 42 percent of care relationships are broken off. Two thirds of the foster children are later admitted to homes" explains the family care expert. Foster children being adopted tends to be the exception.

Foster parents must be carefully selected

A so-called aptitude assessment procedure precedes the placement. Thomas Bärthlein, who looks after families of origin, foster parents and children at the Rummelsberg Foster Child Service on behalf of the City of Nuremberg, explains: "The youth welfare offices rightly set strict selection criteria. We carefully select potential foster parents and sometimes decide against interested parties." Most of the time, however, he has had positive experiences, because the desire for a meaningful social task often prevails. Often relatives or friends also take care of the care.

The chemistry must be right

Age restrictions are usually handled flexibly so that grandmothers can also take care of their grandchildren. As a rule, however, foster parents should match the child in terms of their age. Your own children can, but do not have to, live with the family. Very important: Both the child and the prospective foster parents may reject a mediation proposal if the chemistry is not right.

Accept help in everyday parenting

Interested parties should realize that foster children can put a heavy strain on their own families. "It is therefore important to us that couples or caregivers are open to accepting support. The foster families are accompanied by regular discussions and supervision in their daily upbringing and also in crises" says Bärthlein.

Problems are the rule

Irmela Wiemann, psychotherapist and foster parent counselor, has authored several books on foster and adopted children. The qualified psychologist advises families who want to take in foster children to be aware of two things: "The most important thing is whether they are willing to accept the family of origin." This family rarely comes from an ideal world. Problems are common when a child needs to be separated from their parents. "Nevertheless, foster parents should show the parents of origin enough respect so that the child can feel valuable."

The birth parents often struggle with poverty

A study by the German Youth Institute has shown that poverty almost always plays a role in why children no longer live with their birth parents. Parents rarely give up their children of their own free will. "In our interviews, many reported pressure from the youth welfare office" says Elisabeth Helming.

Foster children are often emotionally hurt

According to Wiemann, the second central aspect that prospective foster parents should consider is that foster children are often emotionally injured. This can make everyday life difficult. "The children have experienced insecurity and broken relationships, and often find it difficult to tolerate closeness. Contact with them can be more complicated than with your own children."

Foster parents should therefore accept if they feel differently about the foster child than they do about their own child. Foster parents without children of their own sometimes find it easier here.

Foster parents have to endure a lot

"Foster children are often in an internal battle to bond. They long to lean on and trust, but avoid being committed for fear of new loss" explains Irmela Wiemann. Prospective foster parents must expect to be provoked and pushed away by the foster child. Often children also wish that their family of origin could take them back in. Foster parents have to cope with this.

Foster parents can and should deal with the situation openly. However, a sure instinct is required so that the foster child can feel that they belong to curious questions, for example from neighbors, but also if they misbehave.

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Despite all the problems, foster families do a lot.