FOSTER TO ADOPT
Most often the goal for the county agency that holds custody of a child is to reunify with the biological family. When reunification is not possible and parental rights are terminated the child or children, become available for adoption. If they have been living with a foster to adopt family, that family is considered for permanent placement of the child/children. Focus on Youth, Inc. has been providing foster to adopt services since 1996 and in the past 5 years, we have assisted our foster families in the adoption of more than 60 youth. Foster parents are the most important source of adoptive families for children in the child welfare system. Focus on Youth encourages, supports, and welcomes the opportunity to serve families who are interested in fostering to adopt. National adoption and foster care statistics show that foster parent adoptions accounted for over half of the adoptions of children adopted from foster care each year from Fiscal Year 1998 through the end of Fiscal Year 2002.
There are benefits of foster parent adoptions. Unlike most other types of adoptions, children and foster parents who are adopting have already been experiencing life together as a family. You have already shared a complicated period of time together, the process of terminating parental rights. The bond that has already been established will continue for the child and enable them to maintain their relationship with parents they know and trust. In addition, the child will be able to remain in the same environment including school, neighborhood, and community.
Child welfare experts have identified characteristics of foster families who adopt children in their care. The National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning provides this list of successful characteristics:
- These families like to give and help.
- They are satisfied with their lives.
- They are resourceful.
- They are tolerant of loss, anxiety, and ambiguity.
- They have a sense of humor.
- They are involved with the child in the community.
The process to become a foster to adopt parent is the same as fostering and can be completed during the foster care homestudy process. During pre-placement training, you will receive training that addresses potential issues that might affect the family and the child who is to be adopted. Some of these issues addressed in training will help you learn when and how to talk to your child about adoption, how to help them through the grieving process, and how to minimize loyalty struggles for the child. The decision by a foster family to adopt a child in their care is about a permanent commitment. You will want to educate yourself as much as possible so you will be able to make the most informed decision.