Many middle-class American families believe they can’t afford to adopt. And adoption can be very expensive.
Folks are very surprised when they learn that they can adopt inexpensively. Adoption through foster care is a wonderful way to provide a home to a child who doesn’t have one, and it may even be free!
Affordability of Adoption Through Foster Care
The biggest cost of adoption through foster care is the home study, which is somewhere between $1,000 and $5,000. There may also be some agency and legal fees involved. Often, the cost of adoption through foster care is covered by a state subsidy. If none is available, a government adoption tax credit of $14,080 per child will comfortably cover the cost.
In order to be eligible for the tax credit, your family needs to make less than $207,140 each year. You will be eligible for part of the credit if your family makes between $207,140 and $247,140. You will have up to five years to recoup the funds.
Children Available For Adoption Through Foster Care
The children who are already available for adoption through foster care can be viewed on state heart galleries. Many of those children may be referred to as “special needs” and qualify for subsidies. These special needs may include being an older child, being a part of a racial or ethnic group that exits the system at a slower rate, being a part of a sibling group that needs to be placed together, having certain medical conditions, or having certain physical or emotional disabilities.
Often, there are additional subsidies available for children with special counseling, medical, or learning needs. You may be able to continue receiving subsidies for these services until your child is 18. Children adopted through foster care can receive free health coverage in the form of Medicare. Some foster children may even be eligible for free college tuition!
Many parents notice emotional and physical challenges improving very shortly after children are adopted into a loving home. Routines, a healthy eating schedule, and lots of outdoor play can do wonders for improving a child’s overall well-being.
Adopting older children comes with its own joys. Children with broken pasts may begin healing and opening up to their adoptive parents right away. It is also perfectly normal for this to take some time. Older children are also more independent than infants and toddlers. Some adoptive parents find that kids who can sleep through the night and go to school in the morning allow them to keep their jobs and maintain a normal routine, especially if they already have children in the home.
Those prospective parents who have always wanted a family may find they are suited to adopt a sibling group. Siblings placed together usually have a lesser chance of failed placement, lots of emotional benefits, and don’t have to move as much. Siblings placed together bring part of their biological family with them, so they have an easier time adjusting to new parents. This is especially true in bilingual families.
Infants Available For Adoption Through Foster Care
Children under 5 are usually not available for adoption through foster care right away. It is, however, possible to foster younger children for a time in the hopes of eventually adopting them. In fact, your social worker may be able to help you identify children who will be more likely to become available for adoption in the future. They cannot, however, guarantee that this will be the case.
Children under 1 year of age are a growing portion of first-time admissions to the foster care system. And it may surprise you to know that most children adopted through foster care are under 3 years old. More than half of these children are adopted by their foster parents. Almost 50 percent of all adoptions are of children who entered foster care before the age of 1.
In many states, it is easy to make the transition from foster parent to adoptive parent. Your certification will allow you to become an adoptive parent once your child’s birth parents’ rights are terminated.
Benefits of Foster Care
If you choose to foster a child in the hopes of adopting them, there are a number of benefits available to you. First of all, there is a monthly subsidy of $400 to $800 per child per month. This is intended to meet your child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, and childcare. Your child will also receive health insurance and additional subsidies if your child requires special services. These services can often continue to be subsidized after you adopt your child.
Who Is Eligible to Adopt Through Foster Care?
In order to adopt from foster care, you do not need to be wealthy, own your own home, or have a college degree. You will, however, need to be over 21 years old and able to prove that you can support your own needs.
You do not need to be married to adopt through foster care. You can be single, widowed, or divorced. It is required, however, that you have a home that you rent or own where there is a separate room for your foster child. If you do not have a spouse or partner, be sure that you have a strong extended family, faith community, or local support group where you can gain insights and empathy when you need it.
Good potential adoptive parents are flexible, open to learning new parenting techniques, and are able to advocate for their children. They must understand the challenges that children are facing and not take their behavior too personally.
There are many resources that can help prospective foster parents. Online support groups and books can provide some insights. Remember that is important to take all advice with a grain of salt. Your child’s struggles and triumphs are different from those of any other. You may find that techniques recommended by other parents are not successful with yours. It is important not to give up! As time goes on, you will develop a report with your child and a knowledge of their temperament. It will help you to make the best decisions in terms of discipline and encouragement. You will be amazed at how quickly a child can grow in a short amount of time with the right feedback.
How To Adopt Through Foster Care
The means to adopt through foster care will depend upon the state you live in. Some have a single-track system, where becoming a certified foster parent will automatically allow you to adopt through foster care. Others have two separate tracks, one for becoming a foster parent and one for adopting through foster care.
Generally speaking, your first step will be to attend an informational meeting where you discover whether or not foster care is a good fit for you. Some states have private agencies that facilitate foster care adoptions, and others have you work directly through the county. You will learn about the types of children already available for adoption, as well as those in foster care. There will be a discussion of the number of visits required with biological parents if you are applying to foster. Many children raised in traumatic situations will need special care and treatment after they are brought into a new home. It is important for potential foster parents to know the kinds of challenges and triumphs they will be facing.
A basic home study is required of all parents who wish to foster or adopt. It is designed to assure adoptive agencies of the mental, physical, and financial health of potential adoptive families. You will need to undergo fingerprinting and background checks, as well as a basic physical exam. You will also be required to verify your income and supply letters of reference.
Interviews with a social worker will be conducted both inside and outside your home. Your house does not need to be elaborate or spotless! Professionals are simply looking for an orderly, comfortable environment where children can be raised with care and patience.
Interviews will also give you an opportunity to talk about the way in which you were raised, and how you would go about disciplining and parenting a child. You can also begin considering the type of child you would be most suited to parent including their age, gender, and background.
Most states require some type of pre-adoptive training classes before parents are certified to adopt through foster care. During these, you will roleplay potential disciplinary and uncomfortable scenarios and the best way to handle them with children who have been traumatized, neglected, or abused.
Once you have passed your home study or completed your training, you can register with your social worker online. You will be allowed to look at information about children in the heart galleries of your own state, as well as those in other states. If you are interested in a particular child, your social worker can contact their social worker for more information to give you. Remember that you may not be the only parent interested in some cases!
Once a match is made, you will be invited to speak with those who know your child or children best to get more information. This may include teachers, social workers, and counselors. You will want to take notes and begin getting a comprehensive picture of what it will be like to parent your child.
After you are certain you are ready to move forward, in-person visits will begin with your foster child. You will then be ready to have your child be placed in your home!
Preparing Your Home For Your Foster Child
Your foster child will need a few things besides a place to sleep when they first come to live with you. Foster children don’t always have a lot of supplies, so it is a good idea to purchase new toiletries such as toothbrushes, hairbrushes, and shampoo. You will also want to get some clothing in a few different sizes. Hand-me-downs or discount clothing is fine until you figure out which sizes and styles work best for your child. Even then, it is important not to buy too much. Many foster children grow a great deal during their first year because they suddenly have access to adequate food and exercise.
Age-appropriate toys, games, and books are also a great way to get your child’s space ready. You will want them to feel as though they are ready to settle in and make themselves at home. A lot of outdoor play is also important for kids at first, so some bikes, scooters, and balls will help to make your home a happy one.
Make sure that your fridge is stocked with nutritious, tasty food. It is also a good idea to keep a basket of wrapped, nutritious food in kids’ rooms to avoid hoarding. Children who have been in impoverished situations may bring perishable food upstairs with them at night because they are afraid that it will disappear.
Organize and clean to make your home even more welcoming. You can also provide children with a list of emergency telephone numbers and house rules to help them feel safe.
Making It Official
Your foster care adoption will be completed in court within a year after your child is placed with you. After that, you will receive a certificate of adoption in the mail.
Many parents like to celebrate “gotcha days” with their newly adopted children. This is the day that the child was officially adopted in court or some other legal milestone. People often celebrate with a cake or presents on the same day each year. This will remind your child that you continue to be amazed at the way they were brought into your family.
Adoption through foster care is one of the noblest and most rewarding things you can do. Get ready for a roller coaster ride of giving and receiving!
Visit Adoption.com’s photolisting page for children who are ready and waiting to find their forever families. For adoptive parents, please visit our Parent Profiles page where you can create an incredible adoption profile and connect directly with potential birth parents.