If you’re looking to adopt, the first thing you should know is that foster care adoption is different than other kinds of private or agency adoptions. With this type of adoption, there’s no waiting period before you begin the process. And because more children enter foster care than any other type of child placement, there are plenty of kids to choose from.
Foster Care Adoptive Parents Screening Process
Child welfare professionals screen prospective adoptive parents to determine whether they’re able-bodied and emotionally stable enough for the job. Once approved, prospective parents must complete state-mandated classes on parenting skills and adoption issues — such as birth parents’ rights — within a specific time frame.
If families fail to meet these requirements in a timely manner, caseworkers can relocate their files to someone else or even remove their names from consideration. You’ll then have to start the process over.
Once families are officially approved to adopt, the waiting game begins. After you file your paperwork (and any fees), caseworkers will start looking for children who match your preferences and begin assessing whether you’re ready to take them home. This evaluation takes place in both your home and in the birth family’s home if they agree to it. If either party doesn’t feel like you’re ready, you won’t get a placement.
Many agencies give preference to married couples, but single people can also adopt through foster care. Some states limit which singles are eligible — some allow only men to adopt, while others have no gender restrictions whatsoever.
If your local agency doesn’t have any child that meets your criteria or if none have approved you, you can seek a more flexible or non-profit agency. You can also search for children on your own and handle the process of adopting them privately, though this involves some larger hassles.
You will likely have more luck if you adopt a child younger than two years old, as older kids typically need more difficult placements and come with behavior issues and emotional scars that may be tough for first-time parents to manage.
Disadvantages Of Adopting Through Foster Care
There are some disadvantages to adopting through foster care: Agencies often charge hundreds — even thousands — of dollars in application fees and other costs, which can put adoptive families under significant financial pressure. Also, agencies keep all ethnic and racial backgrounds open when placing children.
This means that any babies born through the system who are of certain races or ethnicities, such as Asian or Caucasian, could be placed with families outside their ethnicity.
If you do want to adopt a child through the foster care system, consider talking early in the process with an independent attorney who can explain how much it will cost and what you will go through. Remember that it may take two years from the time you start the process to when a baby is placed in your home. In some cases, children may not become available for adoption until they are older.
With a good understanding of the process, you’re now able to make an informed decision on if foster care adoption is right for you.