How Beautiful Open Adoption Can Truly Be
Bethany Moore, a former teacher, knew she always wanted to foster children once she got married. However, rather than waiting for the perfect partner to come around, she dove head first into foster care on her own.
"I just assumed that fostering kids would be something I would do when I got married," Bethany said. "Once I became older, I learned that it was possible to adopt as a single person, and I thought, 'Oh, well that could be something I could do if I don't get married.' When I became a teacher, I just saw just what a need there was for people to foster. I had several students who were about to be put in the foster system."
After taking a look at her finances, Bethany realized that she could make foster care work, so she signed up and took the required class, looking forward to giving kids in her community some much-needed stability.
"People ask about the financial aspect a lot, and I thought I was just really stupid and didn't think about it," she joked. "I had been working full-time for a couple years. I owned my house, so I think I was financially ready, but I don't think I understood how much money goes into having kids. But the stipend you get each month does help. I was fearful. I wondered if I could handle it. I thought, 'Is there going to be too much trauma for a single person to handle on their own?'"
"Before I adopted, I was just very fearful of biological family and open adoption."
Despite her concerns, Bethany welcomed Franklin, who's now 4, into her home on July 4, 2016, when he was just an infant. "He was my very first placement, so I feel like we grew a lot together," she shared. "I didn't know anything about being a parent and fostering." Although Bethany immediately formed a bond with Franklin, she stayed guarded. After all, foster care is typically temporary placement, so Bethany assumed that Franklin would return to his biological parents eventually — but that wasn't exactly the case.
"I went in just thinking I would foster the children and hopeful that they would go back to their biological family," she said. "At some point [with all of my kids], the parents' rights were terminated, and so they were up for adoption. Then they asked me if I was interested in adopting, and then I was."
Nearly a year later, Bethany agreed to foster a little girl named Kit, who was just 18 months old. As with Franklin, Bethany was under the impression that Kit's placement was going to be temporary. "I was told that she wasn't going to be with us long . . . and sadly, that did not happen," she said. Bethany then started going through the motions to formally adopt Kit. Shortly after she got the ball rolling, she had learned that Franklin's half-brother, Theo, who was just 9 months old, also needed a home.
"It became clear that Theo wouldn't be able to go be back with his parents," explained Bethany. "The biological family members who had him at the time reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in adopting him, because they wanted the boys to be together."
Bethany wholeheartedly agreed and has been Theo's adoptive mom ever since. And because Bethany agreed to open adoption arrangements, Theo still sees his biological family members regularly, despite the family's recent move to Nashville, TN. "They're active in all the kids' lives despite only being biologically related to Theo," she shared. "It's so sweet. They came to Kit's adoption even though there's no relation technically there, and we FaceTime."
For Bethany, who was apprehensive about entering into an open adoption agreement at first, the experience has been truly wonderful. "Before I adopted, I was just very fearful of biological family and open adoption," she confessed. "That sounded really scary. There's so much variation of what open adoption can look like, so for each of my kids, we do it differently, but we're very open with Theo's family, and they come over often."
Now, as a mom of three, Bethany is hopeful she'll meet a partner who wants to become a part of her family's life. She's also eager to see more children find their forever homes and has advice for individuals who are considering becoming foster parents. "Know that anything can happen. If you're just solely focused on adoption through foster care, you're going to be disappointed. You're going to be heartbroken," she said. "If you're going to foster, go in to foster, but be open to the fact that if adoption comes, it's always a great option."