November is National Adoption Month! The purpose of National Adoption Month is to spread awareness about the children in foster care and their need for loving, permanent families. How can you help a foster child in need of a family?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families reports that there are over 104,000 children in our foster care system that need, want and deserve adoptive families. While many people touched by the different forms of adoption — international and infant domestic, for example — celebrate National Adoption Month, the original intended purpose is to spread awareness about adopting from the U.S. foster care system.
“You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent”
There is really no perfect parent. If you’re a dedicated mom, you know this is the truth! None of us are perfect, but we’re probably perfect for our children. We strive to be and do our best and that’s what matters. The same belief applies to fostering and adopting from the foster care system.
New year, new theme
The theme of this year’s National Adoption Month is Virtually: Adoption in the Digital Age. The goal is to help agencies who work closely with foster adoption programs harness the power of social media to help place foster children in permanent homes. There are sample messages available on the National Adoption Month site for spreading the word via social media.
Foster parent qualifications
You don’t have to be perfect! While AdoptUsKids notes that requirements vary between states, several premises hold true.
To adopt from foster care, you do not have to:
- Own your home
- Be “young”
- Be wealthy
- Be married
- Be an at-home parent
To adopt from foster care, you should possess these characteristics:
- Have an ability and interest in advocating for a child
The adoption process
If you’re interested in learning more about adopting from the foster care system, start with the resources below.
State specific details: Click on your state at the bottom of the page to learn about your state’s foster care system
How to Foster and Adopt: A step-by-step overview of the process
National Foster Parent Association: A nonprofit, volunteer organization that supports foster parents
Again, the process to adopt varies between states, but very generally, AdoptUsKids notes that you must complete assessment and licensing requirements. The process includes a homestudy — think, a lot(!) of paperwork — and education classes.
Some of the requirements to adopt are as follows:
- Minimum age
- Income verification (Your income must simply meet your expenses.)
- Criminal record check at the local, state and federal levels (This includes finger printing — you cannot have a record of child abuse or neglect.)
- Letters of recommendation from your employer and people who know you
- Doctor’s reference letter (You don’t have to be in perfect health, but you need to be able to care for a child.)
- Cost: AdoptUsKids states that generally, there is no cost to the adoptive parents
- Time: Start to finish, from the time you begin your paperwork to the point a child is placed with you, the process generally takes 12 months. Finalization of the adoption usually occurs six months after placement. As with everything, these timeframes can vary between states.
Don’t be discouraged!
The adoption process from the foster care system can seem overwhelming, that’s for sure. However, many of the great things in life require effort and commitment. If you are truly interested in becoming a foster parent, don’t be discouraged by the process or paperwork. Reach out to an agency or your state’s foster care office. There are plenty of people to help educate you and guide you through the process.