If you are considering adoption from foster care, you may be wondering about the kids up for adoption in your state. While there is definitely some variation in the kids up for adoption via the foster care system, here are some statistics about the children in foster care:
- Approximately 400,000 children enter the U.S. foster care system every year
- About half of those children have a case goal of reunification with their family
- The average age of a child in foster care is 8 years old
- There are more male children in foster care than females
- Over 100,000 children are currently available to be adopted and waiting for a home
- Most children wait more than three years before being adopted
Additionally, many of the kids up for adoption in the foster care system have one or more siblings in the system as well. If you are potentially interested in adopting from foster care, you might consider adopting a sibling group.
Advantages of Foster Adoption
If you are considering adoption, in addition to knowing more about the kids up for adoption, you probably want to know more about the general process of adopting from foster care. Every state has different requirements for families seeking to adopt, and each family’s process will be unique. There are some common requirements though that any family seeking to become a foster family, or seeking to adopt, will have to pass. The first step in the process of becoming licensed as a foster family is a home study. The home study is a process that for many families can seem daunting, and feel invasive, but it is important to understand that it is designed not only to ensure the safety of any children who enter your home, but also to help your social worker get a better understanding of what kinds of children would be best suited to join your family.
Every state has different specific requirements for what your social worker will be looking for during your home study, but the basic structure of all studies is that it is designed to help your social worker get to know you, understand your family dynamic, and ensure any children would be safe in your home. Your home will need to be inspected, which causes many families a lot of worry at the beginning of the process. They are not looking for perfection and won’t be going through your home with a white glove looking for dust, but rather, they will be ensuring that there are no safety hazards and that any children currently in your care are not being neglected or abused. You and anyone who resides in your home will need to pass a background check to ensure you have no criminal violations in your past that would disqualify you from being a safe foster parent to a child. Many people are concerned that things such as misdemeanors or mistakes in their youth will disqualify them from passing a home study. However, much like with the inspection of your home, the social worker is not looking for perfection. They are mainly looking for any crimes committed that involve abuse or violence.
You will also need to pass a medical clearance where you will have to provide records from your primary care physician and any specialists that confirm that you are well enough to parent and do not have any significant conditions that could drastically shorten your lifespan. Many adoptive parents have minor medical issues or even disabilities. Again, they are not looking for perfection; they just want to ensure you are physically capable of parenting. You will also have your finances examined. This does not mean they will go through every receipt from the past year or that you need to be wealthy. It just means you will need to be able to prove that you are capable of financially supporting the needs of a child.
Finances are one reason many families pursue adoption from foster care rather than other adoption options such as international adoption or domestic infant adoption. While there are some costs involved, it is true that pursuing adoption of kids up for adoption in the foster care system is generally far less costly than pursuing infant adoption or international adoption. The average cost of both international and domestic adoptions can often exceed $40,000, so adopting from foster care can be a good option for many families who could not easily acquire that large a sum of money for one adoption.
Other advantages of adopting from foster care include being able to adopt a child who is old enough to have a better idea of their interests, who might be a good fit for your family. Whether you’re a bookworm, a sports fan, or a tech aficionado, there are most likely kids up for adoption in your state or even in your area who would share your family’s interests. There’s also the advantage of skipping the infant stage. While some people enjoy newborns, many people would be thrilled to not have to change diapers or get up three times in one night. It all comes down to what is the best choice for you and your family.
Things to Consider about Adopting from Foster Care
The other consideration you will have to carefully make, perhaps the most important one if you are considering adoption from foster care, is that you would have to understand how to parent a child who has experienced abuse, neglect, or other significant trauma. Parenting adopted children, even if you adopted them from birth, requires different skills than parenting biological children and is a different experience for both the parent and the child. Parenting a child who has experienced the kind of trauma that caused them to have to be forcefully separated from their parents by the state is a whole other consideration. Most states have a lengthy and detailed educational process for foster parents. However, those classes rarely fully prepare you for the specifics of parenting each unique child. Deciding to build your family through the foster care system requires that you understand that you will need to be continuously open to and actively pursuing an education in therapeutic parenting techniques long after you bring this child into your home. You will also have to be open to the reality that you will need to actively pursue future support services for your child. Many children from foster care have extreme social/emotional developmental issues that need support, have educational challenges, and have even medical challenges. While your social worker can provide you with a link to community resources, it will be up to you to be this child’s advocate for the rest of his or her life if you pursue adoption from foster care.
You will also need to be open to potentially maintaining relationships with your child’s biological relatives or even the child’s biological parents. While in some cases it would not be prudent to maintain those ties, for many children in foster care, they have other family members with whom they have a safe, loving relationship. Your family may expand by more than just this child: aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents often continue to play a role in a child’s life even after he or she has been adopted by a non-family member, and research shows that maintaining a relationship with a child’s biological family is best long-term for her self image and identity as an adoptee.
How to Get Started
If you feel the pull towards adoption and want to learn more about the kids up for adoption in your area, the first place to check out would be Adoption.com’s photolisting page. Adoption.com has photolistings and profiles of many of the children available for adoption through foster care. You can search this database with the specific parameters that make the most sense for your family such as age, race, gender, and whether or not the child is part of a sibling group. You can also limit your search to only your state, all states, or any combination of states. This can give you some ideas about the kids up for adoption near you.
While there are certainly challenges to consider if you are thinking about pursuing adoption from foster care to grow your family, the benefits and rewards of parenting any child far outweigh the difficulties. All of the paperwork, the sleepless nights, and worry are nothing compared to the honor of loving and being loved by a child and being the person who shepherds him or her through life. Choosing to pursue adoption through foster care requires tenacity, dedication, and a willingness to be open to asking for help when you need it. Many adoptive families feel strongly that the children they have adopted were always destined to be theirs.
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.