Hi. My husband and I (ages 34 and 35) live in High Point and are very interested in adopting a teenager. We currently have 3 birth children - all girls - ages 6,5 and 15 months. We have talked about adoption several times and would like to open our doors to a teenager or older child (probably a girl) so that even when they are an adult, they have a family to turn to. Of course, because of our other children, the match would have to be perfect for the family as well as the child.
I would like to get information from anyone who has adopted an older child. For instance, how long did the process take? I already have a call into DSS and am 'patiently' waiting for them to return my call. I have also sent an email to them as well. How was the transition? I grew up with kids that were in foster care in their teen years, so I know that it is tough on them. I don't expect the transition to be easy. Does DSS look throughout the state to find the best match, or do they try to keep the kids in the area that they currently reside? I have so many questions and would love to talk to somebody!
Thank you so much!
It was so nice to read your post! There are so many teenagers aching to have a family. It is wonderful that you have an interest in adopting an older child.
I have not adopted a teenager, and I don't live in NC, but I am working very hard to adopt from the foster system. My husband and I would like to adopt a sibling group, and we are interested in kids up to age 10. I can't tell you what it's like to adopt a teenager, but I can tell you about the process.
You are definitely dealing with a bureaucracy, so there is a lot of waiting involved. How much depends on your state. I have read that it can take from 1 to 2 years from the time you first express an interest! But there are lots of people for whom the process goes much more quickly. And with your interest in teenagers, your process could go quite quickly indeed. One of the difficulties of chosing this type of adoption path is that there really is no set timeline.
It's good that you called and emailed. I don't know how your state works, but here in Illinois, there are lots of private agencies that have contracts with the state to do foster care. That may be the case in your state, too. I would do research and find out which agency is the most supportive of foster and adoptive parents. You could talk to your state's foster parent association to get some good information along those lines. It is worth taking the time to find a professional agency that you can work with, because a bad agency will make your life miserable.
The general process is you start as you did by calling to start the process. Then you will be referred for classes to become a licensed foster parent--even if your plan is adoption, you must become licensed because you can't file a petition for adoption until the child has been in your custody (in Illinois, the necessary period of time is 6 months), and you can't have a ward of the state live with you unless you are a licensed foster parent. Our classes were useful, most of all for the wonderful people we met in our class. You want to get as much training as you can lay hands on! In our state, we take 27 hours of foster parent training, and 6 hours of educational advocacy training. Then you have a licensing meeting where they assess your house. Oh, and of course you and your husband will have a criminal and child abuse and neglect background check. That can take a long time to work its way through the system, which is maddening, but there it is. For an adoption, you need to have a home study, which is quite extensive. Really, for us the licensing and home study processes sort of merged. They look into your finances, your upbringing, your marriage, your motivations for wanting to fost/adopt, your parenting style. One thing you can do now is schedule a physical--a doctor will need to fill out a form provided by your state that certifies you are healthy enough to parent. If you have pets, they all have to be up to date on all vaccinations. You have to draw up fire safety plans. Eventually, you get licensed.
As to being matched, I would bet your worker will have lots of teens who need a family. You can do your own looking, too, which I would recommend. You can look for kids from other counties and other states. It is illegal for a state to not place children on the basis of the placement being out of state. This is not to say that some workers are resistant to doing so, because it means yet more paperwork, but there are interstate placements. There are photolistings for 47 of the 50 states where you can search or browse for children who meet your family's criteria. So, you need to think about what age range are you comfortable with, what gender, what race, and whether you are willing to adopt siblings, and what level of disability, if any, that you are willing to accept. The site for North Carolina is adoption photolisting.
Once you have your homestudy, you can also put your family in their family listing, which allows workers across the country to try to find families for their kids.
You should read Parenting the Hurt Child by Keck and Kupecky, and Our Own by Trisha Maskew. There are lots of other informative books out there, but that's a good start.
Finally, I went to the North American Council on Adoptable Children's conference this summer in Minneapolis, and it was fantastic. They are an organization dedicated to adopting from foster care. Their conference next year will be in Philadelphia.
Best of luck!
Last update on November 17, 11:04 am by Sachin Gupta.
Thanks for the information. I am really excited about doing this. My sister has a foster child in Arizona and I knew foster children and parents in NY. I have always wanted to do this, but the timing was never as right as it is right now! The problem is that I am so anxious to talk to someone so that we can get things started. I don't mind waiting as long as I know what I am waiting for. Until I talk to somebody, there really isn't anything else I can do but gather info like this! I will check those books out this week.
I have spent literally hours on the web sites that you mentioned! It is so hard for me to look at a profile whith a picture and pick a possible child. It just seems like such an unfair system. However, it does make me understand how important this is.
Anyway, thank you so much for the info and good luck to you as well!
The accepted wisdom is that it is best not to disrupt birth order when adopting, so in your case that would mean adopting a baby. That said, there are people on the boards who have successfully adopted out of birth order. The risk with having older kids is that some children are aggressive with younger, more vulnerable children due to the abuse that they have suffered themselves. This can manifest itself in physical and sexual aggression. It is difficult to say what behavior to expect from a foster child because of the inadequacies of the system. There are some dishonest social workers out there who will knowingly conceal alarming facts, but more often I believe that the social workers actually don't know. They don't spend that much time with the children, and the system rewards inactive foster parents, so it is possible for a child to have serious problems for months or years and it might not make a blip on the bureaucracy's radar. Anyway, that's some of the reason why people don't adopt out of order. Even without the troubling possibility of aggression on the part of the new child, most children derive a good part of their identity in their birth order.
I say all of this so that you make an informed decision. I believe strongly in the adoption of waiting children, most of whom are older. There is also a need for the adoption of younger children with special needs.
To update my last post, in November of 2004, about 9 months (like an adoption pregnancy!) after we started the process, we received a placement of a sibling group of 3, ages 6, 7, and 9. Parental rights were terminated last week, so that is one less hurdle to our adoption. We feel very blessed to have them, challenges and all.
Best of luck to all of you!
Hello..just going to put in my 2 sense...
My dh and I have 2 bio boys ages 2 and 5. We have just been the accepted family for a sibling group of 3 girls ages 15-11-9 and as you can see it will be an out-of-order placement if all goes well. I think we have a pretty active foster mom...we should receive the files today. These girls are in another state.
We were def. concerned with their abuse from the past but the girls have no acting out and are doing well...other than typical teenage girl issues. We are still in the "deciding" stages. It is a tough decision because you dont want to mess up your family, but then you want to give a child a chance at a great family! So you weigh out all the issues and see how it goes... I am scared...nervous... I want things to go well...I have been warned by DR Art...Im sure you all have heard of him on these boards. So..I am going to really take this slowly and see how it of luck to you Cathy and if you want any details...or have any question on what/how we are doing this just PM me...
Congratulations on the match! How exciting! There certainly are families out there who have successfully adopted out of birth order, and I hope yours is one of them. Educating yourself is the best thing you can do. Let us know how it goes!
:D I too have always heard about the "don't adopt out of birth order".....I did not adopt out of birth order (or even foster out of birth order for that matter), so I cannot answer that question. I do know that in North Carolina "most" Social Service agencies look at that own County first THEN look statewide. I am currently fostering a baby girl that will be adopted NEXT TUESDAY by a couple from another County -- our Social Service Department did a statewide search for her parents.
Good luck!!
Found out last night that the SW has yet to send out the files...there are some lingering issues about our "adoption certification" didnt know we had to be certified to be adoptive parents...thought just a good homestudy w/ an approved agency was all that was needed, thought the certification stuff was for fostering. Shows how much I know. After some late night thinking while my 2 yr old threw up all morning, I decided not to take the girls file. I know it sounds weird but been thinking about this for a while. The oldest is in Highschool and she deosnt really want to be adopted, the younger girls do, but then, dont if they are around their older sister. THe older one will go if they get adopted im sure reluctantly, which means she will be mad at us, or the sw or the foster mom...and then the younger ones may be mad/depressed because they older doesnt want to come...long story short, they are happy and content where they are and i dont want to uproot anything that they have overcome with therapy, school, church.... So, I opted out. THe SW told me that although they cant legally say "yea we think the girls should stay where they are and not be disrupted" that she understood my reasoning and glad that I told her. She said that they are happy where they are and settled, but by law they have to be active in finding placements for I told her that since she knew what we were looking for, just to let us know if a little girl comes along that she thinks will fit in our family!
Im actually not sad about it, i know i made the right decision :o