In case you missed it, Part I of "From Fostering to Adoption" was handled here. I spent most of that post talking about how long it takes before you know a child will be adopted (vs. reunified, etc.). I chose not to answer the second-half of that post because it really is a completely different qustion to answer.
Q: How long does it take before you want to adopt a child (or, before you know you want to adopt the child).
A: As with all of my answers, this one too starts out with a caveat - it depends on the child, the foster/adoptive parents, and the situation. Again with this post I will focus on foster placements vs. straight adoption placements because the process is very different and I'm much more familiar with the foster placement scenarios.
All of our cases to date have gone to termination at some point. If you recall, at the beginning of this year I would have said only 1 of our kiddos had become eligible for adoption and now we've had 4 of 8 become adoptable and I fully expect at least 2 of the other 4 to become adoptable as well. It's very interesting how in the course of a few months our stats have changed on that.
In any case, for each of our children the time it took from when we received the placement to when we thought we would want to adopt varied pretty significantly. With our first placement we were new and somewhat naive. We were still approaching foster care with the full intention to adopt and therefore though we knew that the case was early on we kind of assumed it would go toward adoption - not to mention some of the factors of the case that led us to believe they wouldn't be going home and they didn't have any kinship available. So, with that case very early on I felt as if I wanted to adopt them. My heart was in it as if they would be permanent members of our family. Of course, after the honeymoon was over and their behaviors became a reality, probably 3 weeks in, it all became tiring and both J and I questioned adoption potential. Nevertheless, it wasn't until week 6-7 when they told us they were doing a homestudy on a relative and then week 8 when they told us they were approved that we "knew" we wouldn't adopt them. At that point letting them go was a sigh of relief. That being said, those last three weeks we had gotten to the point where we loved them and they loved us and they were part of our family. We would have adopted them. And, when they asked us a year later if we'd want to adopt them - we said yes. It didn't work out for us to adopt them, but we would have. We knew after only a few days.
For our second placement it was the same and different. We were still somewhat in a place where we expected adoption, especially in this case with the parent's history. Since mom disappeared after the first week, it became apparent that it may very well turn into a termination case. But, he was a singleton, not a sibling group and we had wanted to adopt a sibling group. And, as the case progressed it became clear that there were kinship placements ready and available if the case went that way - plus mom and dad worked their case plan and it was a "perfect" case for reunification. So, our hearts were guarded with him all along. We knew we would adopt him probably 8-10 weeks into the placement if he became available. When we said goodbye and then subsequently had to say we couldn't take him when he came back into care, our hearts were very broken.
For our third placement, we thought there was absolutely no way we'd adopt her. Absolutely no way. She was our second singleton and if we were going to adopt one singleton it would be the first one not her. SHe had challenges. We thought she might have severe mental and/or developmental challenges that were biologically based. We had concerns. Two months into the placement she was scheduled to go with a relative and though we didn't want that to happen, it was because to us that placement seemed bad not that we wanted her to stay with us forever. That month my heart started to change as she started to heal and progress. It probably wasn't until the 4th or 5th month that I was sure. My husband on the other hand wasn't sure at all even then. He had learned not to open his heart up. He didn't want to let her in lest he love her and have to let her go. As her delays weakened and the case went on, he took the chance. I knew we would adopt her by about month 5. J was in love with his daughter about month 6 or 7. We hope to adopt her next month. If something changes that, we'd be absolutely devastated.
For our 4th placement, we only had them for 2 weeks. That being said, we immediately knew we'd be open to adopting them with a few caveats. They were two girls - how would our family be if we went from mom, dad, and a boy to mom, dad, a boy, and two girls - we wanted our son to have a brother. That being said there was a mysterious brother in that case - younger than our son older than the girls. It would have been perfect. We didn't get into the case long enough to determine whether or not that would really have been a good situation.
For our 5th placement, we have always said we'd be leary of adopting them. The behaviors we've faced - the work it's been - the case details - they all make us be happy as just foster parents. That being said, we've had them for 5 months now and we love them. My husband is just now letting them grow on us. It seems like a perfect placement - two girls the same age, two boys close to the same age. Even though its a challenge sometimes its clear they've grown on us and with us...just like with placement 3 we're really nervous about what happens when they go to their scheduled placement. Unlike some of our cases but like #3s, we just don't have a peace about that decision. We're not yet at the point where we're sure we'd adopt, but we'd probably lean that way.
So, all in all, it depends on the case, anywhere from a few days to 5-6 months! I'd say if you fall in love with a kiddo within the first few days you should be very cautious to wait until any decisions are finally made for at least 2-3 months so you can get into a rhythm and avoid honeymoon decisions - that I suppose is one of the reasons for rules like we have in our state requireing 6 months in the home before adoptions can be finalized. And, just because you don't get that initial fuzzy feeling for a kiddo right away - doesn't mean they won't grow on your heart over time.