Adopting from foster care: 5 things you should knowRich Stigall
Are you exploring ways to grow your family through adoption? There are so many children, right here in the United States, who are waiting for a safe, loving, and permanent home. Adopting a child from the U.S. foster care system is one option you may not have thought of, so we’ve compiled 5 things you should know when pursuing this type of adoption.
1. Who are these children?
According to AdoptUSKids.org, more than 117,000 children and teens in foster care are waiting for a permanent family. Through no fault of their own, these children have been placed in foster care because they have experienced neglect and/or abuse. More than half of children who enter foster care are able to safely reunite with their biological family. When children are unable to return home with their family, parental rights are terminated and children are often adopted by relatives or their foster family.
While it is possible to adopt a baby from foster care, most of the children who need permanent homes range from toddler to age 21. The median age is eight years old.
“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” -Stacie Tauscher
2. What is the cost?
If you’ve done some research, you might be surprised at how expensive adoption can be. Working with a private adoption agency to adopt a newborn baby or to adopt a child from another country can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000. Your income can also be a factor in the cost to adopt.
But did you know that most adoptions from foster care are free? Because adopting a child from foster care is often state funded, the fees are minimal to none. Whatever costs are accrued are usually reimbursable. Even after you adopt a child, there are many programs to help with child care needs such as medical assistance programs, educational benefits, college tuition assistance, child care vouchers, subsidies, and other assistance.
3. Who can adopt?
Eligibility requirements vary between states and territories but most adults, regardless of marital status, age, income, or sexual orientation are qualified to adopt. You are not required to own your own home, have a college degree, have children already, or be a stay-at-home parent in order to adopt.
According to AdoptUSKids.org, good foster/adoptive parents exhibit the following characteristics:
- Being stable, mature, dependable, and flexible
- Having the ability to advocate for children
- Being a team player with your family or child welfare worker
4. What support is needed?
Because all children in foster care have experienced some form of trauma, it’s imperative that adoptive parents understand the effects of trauma in order to help the child heal. Support groups, respite care, and financial support are just a few of the ongoing support and service options available that help the entire family be successful. Learn about more supports on AdoptUSKids.org.
5. Why adopt from foster care?
Foster care is meant to be a temporary living situation until a child can either safely return home with their family or find a permanent home through adoption. Without the stability, love, and ongoing support of a family, children age out of foster care unprepared for the enormous responsibilities of adulthood.
Research has shown that the outcomes for these children can be devastating. Nationwide:
- 50% of the homeless have spent time in foster care
- 65% of female victims of trafficking have spent time in foster care
- 75% of the incarcerated have spent time in foster care
Will you help ensure a healthy future for a child who needs a permanent family? Whether through adoption or another of the many other ways you can engage with the system, every sacrifice shows a kid that he or she is worthy of love.
“If only 7 percent of the 2 billion Christians in the world would care for a single orphan in distress, there would effectively be no more orphans. If everybody would be willing to simply do something to care for one of these precious treasures, I think we would be amazed by just how much we could change the world.” -Steven Curtis Chapman