There are many things to consider prior to making the decision to pursue adoption from U.S. foster care.
It’s good to take your time and make sure this is the right fit for your family.
In most cases, you may be able to adopt whether you’re married, single, or in a committed relationship.
You don’t need to own your own home, have children already, be young, wealthy, or a stay-at-home parent to adopt.
But you do need to care.
Characteristics needed to be a good adoptive parent include:
- Being stable, mature, dependable, and flexible.
- Having the ability and desire to advocate for children.
- Patient, forgiving and able to love those from hard places.
- Being a team player with your family or child welfare worker.
Sometimes, families who are not ready to adopt (which is a legally binding transfer of all parenting rights and responsibilities) will consider becoming foster parents. Fostering is a temporary arrangement for children who, for one reason or another, have been removed by the authority of the court from the care of their birth parents or other persons who are legally responsible for them. These children are in the temporary custody of the State while their parents are given the opportunity to complete services that will allow the children to be returned to them, if it is in the children’s best interest.
Children in foster care can live with relatives, non-relative foster families, or in group facilities. Slightly more than half of children who go into foster care return to their birth families. For children who become available for adoption, most are adopted by a relative or their foster parents. An adoptive parent’s legal status is the same as if the child was born to them.
After you have finished applying to adopt and are in the process of completing your home study, you will have a period of waiting. During this time your caseworker will be finishing background checks and verifying the various pieces of information you have provided.
Typically, the above steps conclude with a written home study report reflecting your caseworker’s findings. These findings will determine whether you’re eligible to adopt. These findings will often include the age range and number of children recommended for your family, along with the conditions and characteristics of the children you want. The caseworker will also need to concur that you can successfully integrate these children into your family. This decision may take some time as it’s done on a case-by-case basis, unless there is a criminal record or overriding safety concern that would preclude an agency from approving your home study.
While most adults qualify to foster and adopt, eligibility requirements vary between States. There is a wealth of information (read carefully) at Adopt US Kids
The U.S. State Department of Health and Human Services Child Welfare Information Gateway has a great summary of state laws about who may adopt, be adopted or placed for adoption.