How Do You Adopt From Foster Care?
Adopting a Child: Everything You Need to Know
According to the latest information from the United States Department of Health & Human Services Children's Bureau, there were 400,000 children in foster care in 2020. Of those children, over 100,000 are waiting to find a forever home. We have 2,000 kids ready for adoption in Virginia.
There are many different types of adoption, including international adoption, independent adoption, and domestic adoption.
If you're considering adopting a child from foster care, you could make a massive difference in that child's life. However, there are many factors you should consider first to ensure you're fully prepared to go through the process.
Why Are Children in Foster Care?
Children and youth may enter foster care for many reasons, usually due to the birth mother and father being unable to care for them. Usually, this involves abuse or neglect.
Birth parents can have the children return to them, but only if it's in the child's best interest. Many children become available for adoption, waiting for their forever families. Sometimes, a family member or relative will adopt these children. Others are cared for by foster parents.
How Are Foster Adoptions Different?
Suppose you're serious about adopting a child in foster care. In that case, you must remember that they have gone through some traumatic experiences. Your comfort and support are vital at this time. To help them heal, you'll need to take some extra steps.
That said, there are times when adoption doesn't work. Children in the foster care system sometimes don't want to be adopted. They may have a negative perception of family or may not be ready for change.
There are still many children out there waiting for their forever families. Keep searching, and you'll find the perfect match.
Adopting From Foster Care: What You Need to Know
Before adopting a foster child, you must ensure you meet all the requirements and that you'll be a good fit. Make sure you learn about your state laws and speak with an adoption specialist.
In Virginia, parents interested in adoption must be 18 or older and have the time, energy, and capability to care for a child. An agency may have separate qualifications and a specific process to determine the best fit for their kids in foster care.
What Can Disqualify You?
Certain factors can disqualify someone from becoming a foster parent. Some of these factors include:
- Having an income that isn't suitable to support yourself and the other members of your family
- Not attending all training sessions
- Not having a safe environment for the foster child
- Having someone in the household whom the adoption agency has concerns about
- Not being mentally and physically healthy
- Not completing a background check
- Providing dishonest or misleading information to the agency
A common question people ask is whether they can adopt a child with a criminal record. If someone was involved in a violent crime or if the offense involved a child, they would most likely be unable to move forward in the process. A social worker may decide whether someone with a felony can care for a child.
Fostering a Child First
Your state may require that you are approved to foster before you adopt; this is known as being dual-licensed.
Parents that are considering adoption will find many benefits to fostering first. You can begin parenting sooner and gain valuable experience. You also bond with the foster care children and experience parenting children of different ages.
Being approved to foster while you are waiting to adopt can help reduce delays and additional paperwork. Adoptive families who were dual-licensed have also had placement occur more quickly.
Connecting With an Adoption Specialist
Once you've decided that adopting a child from foster care is the right move for you, you should get connected with an adoption specialist or caseworker.
Take time to talk with your clinical specialist about your goals and expectations and ask any questions you have. If you plan on following the foster-to-adopt path, let them know.
Please book an appointment with our foster advocate to learn about the journey ahead of you.
Attend Training and Orientation
You'll have to attend the required training and orientation. These sessions teach potential adoptive parents about the process, what's expected, how to care for a child, and more. These classes are the best way to gather information on the adoption process and learn what you need to do.
Complete the Home Study
The next step is the home study. All states require a home study before hopeful parents can be cleared for adoption.
You'll need to submit specific documentation, undergo background checks, and schedule home visits and interviews with social services. Interviews may include speaking with other children in the house and all adults.
This part of the process can take three to six months.
Matching and Placement
After the home study, you're eligible for a match. The wait time can vary significantly; however, participating in the fostering-to-adopt process means you could receive a placement much faster. The match needs to be in the best interests of the child and the family. If it is, you can begin meeting with the child or children.
Coping with the wait time can be challenging, but don't get discouraged. You may want to consider joining adoption support groups to help you through.
Petition to Adopt and Finalization
Before adoption, the child's biological parent's rights must have been terminated, known as the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR).
The mandatory waiting period is around six months, though it can be longer. There will be several post-placement visits to ensure everyone is adjusting well.
After this period, you can finalize the adoption by having a judge sign a final adoption decree. Then you can celebrate your foster child (legally) being a part of your family!
Adoption From Foster Care
Now that you know more about adopting a child from foster care, you should consider if it's the best choice for you and your family.
Please fill out our online form to learn more about becoming a foster parent and adopting from foster care. An adoption advocate will reach out to you soon, and you can begin this exciting journey!