How do I Become a Foster or an Adoptive Parent in Virginia?

Every child needs a family, become a foster parent

How to Become a Foster Parent in Virginia 

Is now the right time for our family to become foster or adoptive parents?

Every child needs a family. We know that whether “family” means a mother and father, a single parent, a same sex couple, beloved aunt or uncle, a grandparent or a caring foster or adoptive family, this bond gives meaning to the successes, cushions the hardships and allows us to be our best selves. A family can provide a compass throughout life’s journey. Studies show that children do best in families. While some children grow up to succeed without a family, we would hope that one would never willingly choose such a path for their own child(ren). Today, too many children in the child welfare system are not living in families during the most critical years of their physical, emotional, psychological and social development and the most vulnerable moments of their lives. What follows is a way that you can influence the life of a child in Virginia.

How do you foster or adopt a child in Virginia? This question is one of the most straightforward questions we are asked every day. The answer: it is a process designed by the Commonwealth of Virginia, so all we have to do is follow a list. It is only a process; every Child Placing Agency (CPA) or local DSS follows the same training hours, first aid certificate, and background checks. Everyone has their ways of doing things, but at its core, it is the same. The challenge is who on the foster parent journey team you would like to be. All agencies show on the website who they are, which helps when talking to the Foster parent advocate or parent recruiter. If the site enables you to make an informed choice and no pressure sales, you are in the right place.  

While considering becoming a foster parent, remember you are taking on a life-changing choice that you will reflect on for the rest of your life. The gift you will give includes your love, your support, and your home. Having a family to share with this child in need of all the above is an amazing one. It helps if you invest in learning about fostering and learning all the critical questions. Why do you want to help? Is this the right time in your life? Sometimes you will decide it is the right time, and then when you begin the journey, a life situation can happen. Any life situation can include an illness, a death, or a loss of jobs, and it is ok, but sometimes it causes us to put the journey on hold. At Extra Special Parents, we pride ourselves in our care for the children and our foster families. When something like this happens, we try to support you along the way. We are both on the same journey to foster a child or adoption, and that means you are valued as well.

Things to consider when starting a journey like this may include what Foster care is and what it is not as well as the children in our care system and the parents trying to get their children home again.  

 No child chooses to be in Foster care. No parent wants to feel like their commitment to protect and love their child has come into question when a DSS jurisdiction removes their child. Still, on average, over 5500 kids need a bed tonight, whether that be foster care, kinship care, or a residential program. The need for licensed foster parents is the focus of all Department of Social Services (DSS) Child placing agencies and Therapeutic Foster care agencies.  

Let us talk about what a child needs from you first, and then discuss your needs to be a healthy parent for these children. The most straightforward and uncomplicated way to view our children in Virginia Foster Care need is stability, safety, connection, and a place to lay their heads and sleep well. Foster care is designed to be a temporary fix for a challenging solution. Suppose Social Services cannot find a Therapeutic Foster Family for a child or sibling group tonight. They will spend the night on a couch in a social worker's office or an emergency shelter somewhere in Virginia, maybe even in a hotel with a staff looking after them. I am sure you agree that it is unacceptable in our modern world and possibly help change that.  

All foster care children have suffered trauma if they have been in DSS custody for an hour or years. The reason they are in Foster care is simple; an adult let them down, and they have been removed from their family, and what they felt was normal is now questioned. Parents can also ask the state for help. When parents say they can not protect or look after their child, they are courageous and trying to do the right thing for their family. They do so through their own choices or very tough and unique problems in the families, sometimes just out of their control, due to ill health or just a job loss. As a parent myself, I always considered how close my child needs a loving, caring foster parent until she turned eighteen. 

A clear example of this is a car crash on your local highway. I cannot inform my hospital, due to my injuries, who will care for my child. The hospital will call DSS, and they will step in and find a safe home-like yours for my child. When I talk to you as a potential parent, I'm always mindful of whether I would be happy with this Foster Parent home. I still hope that a fantastic foster parent would be ready to say "yes." When my child is in need, it may be just a few nights until I fit to care for my child again. For many families, it takes a lot longer to get their lives put back together also.  

It may surprise you. All foster parents considering taking on this fantastic role must think of their strengths and the weaknesses in all the household members. All foster or adoptive parents come with their life experiences, from trauma to unconditional love and everything in between. Your life journey has helped you be the person you are with smiles and scares, so when reflecting on your trauma, reflect on the child, you can help and the ones you can not. It will help reflect on how you have healed so you can reflect on how a child may improve in your care. The last thing you want to encounter is a child going through a similar experience as you went through, and you have not found peace in your mental health. You must consider if this child may not be right for you at this time. Saying this does not mean you are not suitable for being a foster parent, not this child. In time your skills, like all things, will get more durable, and you will be able to take on more kids with more challenging behavior or health issues. With 5499 more children to consider, that would work for your family situation and your trauma journey. Never be afraid to say no! As these memories of the foster child before you can trigger your feelings. If you do not know how to cope with this, this when you draw upon your support network and your Licensed Child Placing Agency to get you through this challenge.  

Your Parent advocate and or TFC case manager is one of these supports that quality agencies use to help you understand when a child is right for you. They should also be the ones that allow you to say no to a child coming to your home. The matching process is essential and should not be overlooked when considering an agency and talking to them about the process. We all know that the child needs the right bed, not just a bed. Always check that right you are the right family for the child on that day. You will not be the right family for all the kids in Virginia's DSS; they have many children at all levels of need. Many kids will be screened out by the agency to be placed with you, which is a good thing. Your licensed Child Placing Agency (CPA) should have screening tools that are utilized to find the right child for you. Annie E. Casey Foundation has many such devices.  

In Conclusion, If you are here, you are most likely a great fit to be a Foster Parent. If you know yourself and your household members, you are right to be a Foster Parent. If you understand your past trauma and feel that you know it, and confident to discuss it before a child comes to your home, you are the person we need. If you can say no to a child, you feel it will overwhelm your family. You are perfect to be a Foster Parent. FosterVA is asking you to fill out our contact form and make that first step. MV2

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