Are you considering opening your heart and home to a child in need? Foster care and adoption can be life-changing experiences for both child and caregiver. But understanding the different goals and process for each path is important.
Fostering itself is not intended to be a path to adoption. Foster parenting is a critical way to help children find stability, love and an anchor while they wait to be reunified with their bio families.
In some cases, unfortunately, kids are unable to be reunified and become eligible for adoption.
Here’s A Step-By-Step Guide To Fostering vs. Adoption
1️⃣ Choose Your Path.
Before you get started it is important to be clear about your objective: 1) Foster to provide temporary care for a child or sibling group while supporting the bio family and the goal of reunification. 2) Adoption of an eligible child or sibling group waiting in foster care. While you must be licensed as a foster parent to be eligible the goal of this process is to bring child into your family permanently.
2️⃣ Find An Agency.
You will need to work with an agency whether you intend to foster or adoption. Do your research and find a reputable child-welfare or private agency that specializes in foster care and adoption. That agency will guide you through the process and provide necessary support.
3️⃣ Get Started On Your Orientation and Paperwork.
Most agencies will offer orientation sessions to provide a comprehensive understanding of foster care or adoption. Fill out the required paperwork to begin your journey.
4️⃣ Complete Your Training Classes and Home Study.
Again for both fostering and adoption you’ll be asked to enroll in training classes to equip you with knowledge and skills to care for a child who has experienced trauma. The home study involves interviews, background checks and home inspections to ensure a safe environment for the child. The home study for adoption typically will take longer to complete and be more complex.
5️⃣ Get Your Foster Parent License.
If you choose the foster parent track, you will need to obtain a foster parent license. This includes accepting placements with the goal of reunification, such as sibling groups, respite care, or therapeutic placements. If your goal is adoption you also may be required to get your license since an intended adoptee often will first be placed with you in a foster setting for a trial period..
6️⃣ Get Approved For Adoption Through Foster Care.
If you are pursuing adoption, details specific to your state and agency will guide your process. This involves accepting placements that have experienced termination of parental rights (TPR) with the goal of adoption. You have the ability to inquire about a specific child you’ve become aware of through our I Belong Project or other source, as well as to indicate your preferences or requirements with regard to a child’s age, gender or other parameters.
7️⃣ Stay Open-Minded and Patient.
When inquiring about waiting kids, keep an open mind. Children come from myriad backgrounds, and it’s essential to consider their unique needs and circumstances. While adopting through foster care is typically free of cost to the adoptive family, it can require more time and process hurdles.
8️⃣ Become Attachment and Trauma Aware.
As you begin your process to foster or adopt a child in foster care it is so important to educate yourself about attachment and trauma., and how they may show up in kids in your care. This will help equip you to meet vulnerable kids where they are when they arrive in your home and become part of their healing process.
9️⃣ Build Your Tribe.
Foster care and adoption demand an even stronger support system than traditional parenting. Talk to your friends and family about your plans, and let them know how they can support your journey.
Remember, the decision to become a foster or adoptive parent is a profound, life-changing decision on both sides. But with a solid agency partner, a commitment education and a good support system around you, both can be a life-enriching journey.
I Belong ProjectTM Shines A Light On Adoption-Eligible Kids In Foster Care
We created I Belong Project to help amplify the faces and voices of kids in foster care seeking adoptive families because they often have been in the system for several years and can benefit from that awareness to find their adoptive homes.
Of the more than 2,000 kids we’ve filmed to date more than 1,200 kids have been matched with potential adoptive homes. Many families that find our IBP videos have already began their process to foster or adopt. Some are just captivated by the stories of these amazing kids and go on to foster or otherwise support the mission.
Families inquiring about IBP kids can inquire about any child from any state, however they will need to complete the required training (this varies state to state) and home study in the family’s home state. Typically a current home study will be used to consider if the family will be a potential match for the child by the child’s case team. After a family is selected as the adoptive family for the child, a transition plan is made with the case team, child and family for the child to meet the family, set up any additional training and services and for the child to move into their home. Most children must reside in the home for 6 months before the adoption would be finalized with the court.
Meet Three Families Who Transformed Their Families By Foster-Adopt
I Belong Project is a trademark of America’s Kids Belong.