There are thousands of children waiting for permanent homes in the foster care system. There is a great need for adoptive parents to come forward and help these children find loving homes and families through foster care adoption. Explore if foster care adoption is for you.
It was difficult to choose a difficulty level for this article. I chose hard, not because the steps are difficult, but the waiting can be.
- Read and Research - Learn about foster care adoption. Read about children within the foster care system and why they have been placed in the foster care system. Know that the children within the foster care system may struggle with behaviors due to past abuse and neglect. Make an informed decision on foster care adoption and move on to the next step.
- Contact Your State's Foster Care Agency - Call your state's department of social services and ask for information on adopting from the foster care system. You should receive an information packet in the mail with more information on the foster care adoption process within your state.
- Attend Classes - The packet of information should also direct you toward training in your area that will prepare you to adopt a child from the foster care system. The training will also help you decide on the child that would best fit into your family. You will need to look at the child's age, sex, race, behavior, and needs. Due to past abuse and neglect some children need to be an only child, while other children would do great with siblings, but may not be able to handle pets.
- Background Checks - Part of the classes will be to complete forms that allow for background checks on you and key members of your family.
- Home Study - Your adoption social worker will begin work on the adoption home study which is a detailed written report of your family compiled and prepared by a social worker. This can take three to six months to finish.
- Approved - After being approved as an adoptive family you will be given the opportunity to review the profiles of waiting children within your decided upon criteria. After reading several profiles and asking questions, you can ask for more information on each child. It may take several months to find the right child for your family.
- Decide if it's a Match - Once you have decided upon a child and selected to adopt that child, you will be allowed to learn more about the child, by reading the child's files so that you can further discover if the child looks like a good match for your family.
- Pre-placement Visits - Once you have made the decision to follow through with a particular child your family will begin to have pre-placement visits with the child. It's important to figure out if you feel that this child is the right adoption match for your family, or ultimately not a good adoption match.
- Child Moves In - When the big day arrives and the child joins your family, know that the adoption worker will still remain in contact with your family to monitor your progress as you wait for a court date.
- Legalized - Your family's day in court when the adoption becomes final and the child is yours. Continue on building ties as a family. Please remember to maintain past ties the child has with appropriate birth family and the past foster family. There are a number of ways to do this. It may be wise to consult a therapist for ideas that will work for your child.
- Post Adoption Support - The adoption social worker will stay in contact with your family for 12-18 months, depending on your state's guidelines.
- Learn all you can about the child starting with the child's publicly shared profile. Many State websites share a short paragraph about each waiting child. This is enough information to start the process of asking questions and searching for more information.
- Once matched to a child and chosen to adopt that child, go into a file reading with an idea of the information you really want to concentrate on and find in the child's file.
- Know that this is often a long process. Try to enjoy this time preparing for a child to enter your home by focusing on your current family relationship and friendships. Once the child enters your life there may be several weeks or months when you'll be busy with your new child and not have the time to nurture other relationships.