Fost-Adopt programs were created to bridge the gap between a child’s initial need for temporary care and the long-term need for a permanent home. There are hundreds of thousands of children in the US foster care system, and in addition to state and county fost-adopt programs, some private agencies also work with social services to assist in these placements.
Guide to Adopting from Foster Care
Comprehensive and clear language guide through the process, procedures, and issues involved in adopting a child from the US foster care system.
In Fost-Adopt programs, social workers place the child with specially trained fost-adopt parents before the child’s biological parents’ parental rights have been permanently terminated. The child is placed where the fost-adopt parents make a commitment to adopt the child if and when those rights are terminated and the child is legally free to be adopted.
Here are some of the key features of fost-adopt programs, also known as foster-adopt and foster-to-adopt.
- Efforts at family reunification may still be ongoing, or biological parents may be appealing a decision to terminate their parental rights.
- Generally, children placed in fost-adopt programs are considered less likely than others to return to the biological family.
- You agree to adopt the child if/when the biological parents’ parental rights are terminated.
- You act as foster parents during this time.
The main reason for making such a placement is to spare the child another move when adoption is viewed as a likely outcome.
One reason many opt for this type of placement is that a high percentage of children placed in fost-adopt families are very young, including infants. This type of placement is a legal risk placement insofar as the court could return the child to the biological family. When hopeful adoptive parents take care to educate themselves about the program, ask the hard questions, and push social workers for realistic evaluations of the legal risks involved, it can be an excellent option.
There are varying degrees of risk, which you and your family will need to explore with the child’s social worker or advocate. When a child is placed with a fost-adopt family, the child’s permanency options are often being evaluated in two directions: adoption and family reunification. This is called “concurrent planning” and can be equally difficult for both the biological parents and the hopeful adoptive family, neither being very sure of the end result.
There is also a possibility of other biological family members making known their interest in raising or adopting the child. In other cases, the child’s permanency plan is moving more definitively in the direction of adoption or may be simply a question of a pending court decision.
Children placed in fost-adopt families may have medical needs, be sibling groups, represent racial minorities, or have been prenatally exposed to drugs or alcohol. Many states indicate that children placed through their fost-adopt programs are most often younger children, but sibling groups may include older children.
To learn more about the fost-adopt program in your state, contact your State Adoption Specialist or State Foster Care Manager.