Did you know that an equal number of babies and foster children are adopted each year? In our country, 38% of adoptions are private (mainly infants), 37% are through foster care, and 25% are international.
I couldn’t quite grasp why there are so many children stuck in foster care until I saw the data… In 2010 there were 25 foster families in my county. I live in a county of 132,906 households. Anyone else’s mouth dropping?!
In follow up to my previous post about traditional vs. legal-risk placements, I wanted to share that there is another path to directly adopt from foster care. Some call it foster-to-adopt. Since some professionals in the field shy from using this term, you might hear some dismiss that foster-to-adopt actually exists. But it does.
In fact, there are 102,000 children in the U.S. foster care system that ARE legally free for adoption and are waiting for a forever family. Recently over lunch with a friend I found data saying that there are 314,000 Christian churches in the United States. If 3 families per church adopted 1 child there would not be a SINGLE. WAITING. CHILD. stuck in our foster care system.
Adopting a child that is legally free for adoption through foster care is different than my personal journey. My journey is filled with waiting to see how the bio family will improve or fail or sign over their parental rights; whereas when adopting legally free children from foster care the waiting is all about being matched. Adopting legally free children from foster care is similar to adopting an infant privately with the exception that the bio parent(s) are not usually involved in picking the forever home.
Our country needs more families to adopt legally free children from foster care!
WHAT DOES THE PROCESS LOOK LIKE?
1. Complete a homestudy and some training. As part of the foster care licensing process you and your significant other (if applicable – I point this out because a LOT of single adults are foster/adoptive parents) are asked to honestly answer a host of questions including describing the relationship you have with both of your parents and your siblings, under what circumstance(s) you would severe your current relationship with your significant other, disclosing any abuse or neglect you personally faced, and more. My husband and I typed our answers directly into the document we were provided and we each ended up with 15 pages of replies. Our licensing worker then used these replies along with other information she learned about us over the three months of visiting our home to write up a collective story about our family i.e. our homestudy.
From what I understand, those going through private domestic and international infant adoption also work with their social worker to create a homestudy. But, for private adoptions (non-foster care) the training is much less and often optional; whereas for foster care adoption you’re looking at a weekly commitment of 3 hours for a few months to get licensed. Maybe this is because for a private infant adoption you are voluntarily paying $10,000+ out of pocket; whereas, the cost of foster care adoption is $0.
2. Interview…. when you’re an approved foster family and you’re applying to adopt child(ren) through the foster care system you can submit your homestudy for any kid(dos) you are interested in. Profiles for these children can be found via:
- A Family For Every Child
- or from emails from your licensing agency
Of all the homestudies submitted for a child/sibling set, 2-6 or more families can be invited to an interview (AKA – a staffing). At the interview the table can be filled with the kid(dos) current social worker, therapist, CASA (court appointed special advocate), the current foster parents, and various community members. To get a feel for these types of staffings, I served as a community member at a staffing. Within 24 hours of the staffing the families interviewed find out if they have been selected as the best fit for the children. (In foster care adoption the goal is to match children with families not families with children.) If you are, you work with the child(ren)’s social worker, therapist, etc. to develop a transition plan to meet the children, have them over, and eventually have them live in your home. After the child(ren) have been living with you and have bonded with you for 6 months you can go before a judge and legally adopt them. On some occasions living together is not a compatible match and the relationship dissolves and the children go through the whole process of being matched again.
My prayer is that 2015 is THE year that families STOP making up excuses and START opening up their homes and lives to more children in foster care.
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