Family Building, Week 2

We continue our January theme of family building, with posts that focus on questions like:

  • What made you decide to have kids?
  • Did you have any criteria for what kind of kid you wanted, and why?
  • How did you decide on your process (adoption, surrogacy, etc.)?
  • What memorable moments occurred during your process, good or bad?

This week’s excerpt from Magic Lessons looks at my experience in that necessary evil of the fost-adopt process, training:

In training, one of the first things you learn is the definition of a special needs child. This includes, believe it or not, a child with a diagnosed special need such as a physical, emotional, or developmental disability. However, again at least in California, it also includes the following:

  • Any child over two
  • Any child who is not white
  • Any siblings

So, yeah: You could fost-adopt a future president of the United States, and if he or she is three, or Latino, or has a sister who’s also in foster care, that child is special needs. I actually hit the trifecta: My kids were both over two and not white and part of a sibling set. Yahtzee! The good news is, the county gives you a (meager, but every penny counts) monthly stipend for these “special” kids, up to age eighteen. The bad news is . . . really?

Anyway, other things you learn in training include the following:

  • How to discipline
  • How not to discipline
  • All the attachment disorders you can expect to see
  • How there’s a good chance you won’t see these disorders until your kid hits puberty
  • The honeymoon
  • How not to be fooled by the honeymoon
  • What to do when the honeymoon ends—probably much sooner and more abruptly than seems reasonable

Now it’s your turn! Share your family-building story by leaving a comment, or contact me at to have your story featured as a post in a future week!

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