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Foster Care Adoption

An alternative to a private agency adoption, a private adoption, or an international adoption is to adopt a child from a state foster care program. Below we have provided you with information about foster care adoption.

Children in Foster Care

Foster care adoption involves the adoption of a child who is currently in one of the 50 U.S. states' foster care programs. Foster care adoption is typically conducted through state and local public agencies but in some states private adoption agencies are involved in foster care adoption.

A child is in foster care because he/she cannot safely be reunited with their biological parents or biological family.  State child welfare agencies place these children into approved foster homes with foster parents and with approved potential adoptive parents. The majority of children who are adopted from foster care are adopted by the foster parents who are providing a foster home for the child.  Other children in the foster care system are adopted by their relatives.  However, almost every state has children who are in the foster care system who have not yet been selected to be adopted.

Pros and Cons of Foster Care

There are many good reasons to adopt a child from foster care.  On the other side, there are many problems that can result.

Some of the positive aspects of foster care adoption are:

  • You know you are providing a healthy and loving shelter and home to a needy child and thus are helping the child and the biological parents.
  • The emotional bond that develops between you and the foster child is beneficial  and rewarding to both you and the child.
  • This is an excellent way for families with limited incomes to adopt a child since most states absorb all or most of the adoption costs and many states provide monthly subsidies for a foster care adoption.  This subsidy is based on the child’s emotional, developmental and physical needs.
  • Ongoing support services, often at no cost, are provided for many of these children even after they have been adopted.  Typically, the state child welfare system can conduct the required Home Study and the state pays for the other adoption-related expenses including the adoption legal fees.  Additionally, even after the adoption the child receives Medicaid until they are 18.

Some of the negative aspects of foster care adoption are:

  • *Almost half of all the children in foster care are eventually reunified with their biological family. This means that the foster child you have been caring for and have grown to love may be taken from you and reunited with their biological parents.  This disruption can be a very painful separation for both you and the child.
  • *You do not get to select a newborn as you might be able to do in a private agency adoption. The child has already experienced a separation from his/her biological parents and may even have been the victim of neglect or child abuse.  This may affect the child both currently and as they get older.  Accordingly, the adoption of a foster care child can result in unusual emotional and physical stress for you and anyone else living in your home.

How to Become a Foster Parent

Each state provides its own policies, procedures and  system of support services for foster parents and foster children.  For information on how to become a foster parent, how to have a foster care adoption and what types of support services are provided in your state, we suggest you contact your state child welfare agency. You can also find a child who is available for adoption on your state, or other state's, Adoption Exchange and Photolisting website.

To find out about the public and private adoption agencies that can help you become a foster parent or adopt a foster care child, contact the links above, contact your State Adoption Specialist or visit http://www.childwelfare.gov/nfcad/index.cfm (National Foster Care & Adoption Directory Search).


Additional Help and Resources

You may find the following links helpful:

Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
Foster Care Adoption: U.S. Dept. of HHS-Child Welfare Information Gateway

Please visit our home page to read about our commitment to assist adoptive parents like you as well as pregnant women and birth parents.

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