In the united states alone, there are about 400,000 children in foster care. Foster care is defined as a situation in which for a period of time a child lives with and is cared for by people who are not the child’s parents. (Merriam-Webster) Of those 400,000 children in foster care about 100,000 children are waiting to be adopted. Only about 135,000 are adopted each year. (Adopt Us Kids) Adoption is defined as legally made the son or daughter of someone other than a biological parent. (Merriam-Webster) There are so many of the next generation without a stable and supporting home. This huge number of children in foster care really proves how important adoption is to the future of the lives of so many and the future of the US. Those that begin this adoption process are special people with iron will and open hearts. The process is in some cases long and exhausting, and wouldn’t be possible without the social workers that assist the process.
The Adoption Process from Foster Care
Adoption can be a stressful but extremely rewarding process. The adoption process for a child can begin after a state-sanctioned amount of time being removed from their natural household. The period of time can be anywhere from 90 days, to 12 months. A successful adoption is deemed an adoption completed within 23 months of termination of parental rights.
Decision to Adopt
There are many reasons why people choose to adopt. No matter the basis for the decision, deciding to adopt is deciding to grow a family. One of the main reasons for adoption in today’s world is infertility on the part of the father, mother, or both. A second similar reason is that a person may not have a partner to produce a biological child with. Another could be the couple made the decision to not have biological children because of a heritable trait or medical issue that could be passed down to their children. The third reason for adoption is the desire of a family to care for a child in need and give them a life they deserve.
Selecting a type of adoption.
There are many different forms of Adoption in the US; international adoption, domestic infant adoption, adoption of a child from foster care. Domestic adoptions can be either open, which allows contact with the birth family, or closed, where there is no contact with the birth family. For the purposes of this paper, the focus will be on domestic adoption. Adopting from the Foster Care System can look very different based on the type of child being adopted. Children in foster care range from infancy to young adulthood and can have any number of disabilities and special needs. Needs can range from incurable medical diagnosis to mild behavioral issues. (Together We Rise, A Foster Care Adoption Guide, p5)
Choosing an agency.
There are several different methods for domestic adoption including; public agencies, private agencies, and an adoption attorney. Public adoption agencies work closely with government-sanctioned facilities and closely with the foster care system. Children adopted from this method have been removed from the home of unfit parents and made wards of the state. Private adoption agencies are small businesses or non-profits started by an individual and licensed by the state. An adoption attorney is an individual that ensured you have all the steps completed to become an adoptive parent, sets u court cases, and intercedes on your behalf in court. (Together We Rise, A Foster Care Adoption Guide, p4)
Adoption expenses including agency fee, home study cost, state fee, attorney fees, and travel.
A home study is an in-depth background check, rigorous interview, and detailed safety check of potential adoptive parents and their home. A home study is a way a social worker gets to know a family and deem them ready for adopting. During this process, social workers help the family prepare for their child. All those wishing to adopt must take part in a home study. The process can take anywhere from three to six months to a year. This time stamp depends on the cooperation of the agency, family, and social worker. Home studies must be renewed throughout the stay of the foster child and each adoptive family will be checked in on for a period after the adoption is complete. (Together We Rise, A Foster Care Adoption Guide, p8)
Meet your child, prepare, and bring them home
Adoptive parents find their children through photo banks, adoption fairs, and family matching opportunities. When a child is chosen parents can get to know their child through the social worker as well as the foster family. When preparing for a child adoptive parents must prepare the appropriate sleeping area, enrolment in school, as well as purchase essentials such as clothing and school supplies. It is also important to seek out support groups and council for adoptive parents and children alike. When a family is matched with a child and all paperwork is completed, parents may be given temporary custody of the child until finalization of the adoption. (Together We Rise, A Foster Care Adoption Guide, pp7-8)
Petition to adopt and finalize the adoption
Once a match is made, a family must submit a formal petition to adopt. When submitting this the family is required to have, their child’s birth certificate, a written request to adopt, a declaration of best interest, a statement with the legal reason of removal from biological families’ custody, and a disclosure of relationship with the child. (Together We Rise, A Foster Care Adoption Guide, pp8-9)
Foster Care in the US
Foster care is a reward and a very important institution. The family that cares for children during their time in care an alter and shape a child for life. According to a study, Children placed in foster homes headed by a married couple were almost three times more likely to achieve a timely adoption placement than those placed in single parent foster homes. (McDonald, Tom; Press, Alan; Billings, Peggy; Moore, Terry, 2018, p14)
Foster Care Laws
In the United States, there is a Foster Care Bill of rights that outlines the rights of the children and the way they should be taken care of. This Bill of Rights ensures that children in foster care are treated with the same respect children in their natural homes have.
A kinship placement is the placement of a child with blood relatives or close family friends.
How to become a foster parent.
Becoming a Foster parent follows similar, if not the same process as adopting a child. The only difference is that in the instance of foster care, the foster parents only receive temporary custody of the child.
1 of 3 foster children is homeless within one year after turning 18. 3% of foster children will receive a college degree. About. 80% of the prison population have been in foster care. 75% receive public assistance after leaving the foster care system. (Together We Rise, A Foster Care Adoption Guide, pp1)
Adoption in the US
Adoption is a very necessary institution in the US with the many orphans and children in the custody of the state.
According to a study, Children under age two at removal were almost four times as likely to achieve timely adoption placement than were children over age 12 at first removal. (McDonald, Tom; Press, Alan; Billings, Peggy; Moore, Terry, 2018, p16)Although younger children are typically chosen for adoption sooner, older children’s adoption process moves faster once in adoptive homes. When it is deemed adoption is in the better interest of a child than reunification, children are 50% more likely to achieve timely adoption placement. (McDonald, Tom; Press, Alan; Billings, Peggy; Moore, Terry, 2018, p16)
Qualifications for adoptive parents.
Qualifications for adoptive parents vary by location but some examples include; criminal background, number of children currently in the household, financial situation, mental health evaluation, location, and many other factors.
Qualifications for adoptable children.
In order for children to be deemed adoptable, they must first have parental rights terminated. Rights can be terminated due to abuse, neglect, negligence, endangerment, etc.
Social Worker’s Role
The adoption process can be very stressful for both parents and children alike. The social workers involved in the adoption process on multiple levels. Social workers perform a number of tasks to assist the process. Social Workers make or break a process. According to a study, many caseworkers they interviewed held negative attitudes about the adoptability of some children thereby increasing delays in their placement (Avery 1999; Avery, 2000; Schmidt-Tieszen & McDonald, 1998). In another study, caseworker’s cultural bias towards, African American children and families and poor families, lengthens the time these children spend in foster care without a permanent placement and decreases the likelihood of these children being reunited with their families. (McDonald, Tom; Press, Alan; Billings, Peggy; Moore, Terry, 2018, p21)
Social Workers implement home studies. During home studies, Social Workers conduct in-depth interviews with parents and potential parents. Home studies also involve a safety inspection of the potential home. (Crea, T. M., Griffin, A., & Barth, R. P., 2011, p28)
Assessment of children
Social Workers meet with children on regular basis in order to assess the process of the child. Social workers interview the child in order to see how their placement is working out as well as to check on daily activities such as school and extracurricular activities. (Social Work Policy Institute, 2010, ?3)
Assessment of Birth Parents
Social Workers meet with biological families and assist them with goal setting. Social workers link families with resources after rights are terminated as well as during the termination process. Social workers join biological families in court to testify on behalf of biological families’ character. (Social Work Policy Institute, 2010, ?3)
Social Workers facilitate the transition between foster homes or between a foster home and adoptive home. Social Workers transport children as well as provide a familiar face in an unsure situation. Social Workers also introduce children to their new placement parents. (Social Work Policy Institute, 2010, ?3)
Post Adoption Support
Social workers provide support to families through individual and group counseling and a case plan to induce bonding and stress relief. Social Workers put adoptive parents and adoptive children in contact with resources to give support to families in the transition process. Post-adoption Social Workers highlight the importance of open communication between all parties involved. Adoption can be a stressful and complicated time and open and honest communication can include all members of the family and keep anyone from getting lost in the shuffle. (Social Work Policy Institute, 2010, ?3)
My future work plans
I can see myself here. I am passionate about adoption and passionate about child welfare. My passion in life is for hurt children and broken families. My desire is to protect and help children. In my professional future, I would love to work on a close level with children in foster care as an advocate. In my personal life, it is my deep desire to adopt from foster care.