Hi! I’m Joy. I’m glad you are here! Head back to DAY 1 to see why I’m writing about adoption for 31 days.
I am not an authority on adoption, but from our experiences, our family has been able to help several other families decide if adoption was right for their family and which way to proceed with it. So, here is an little explanation to educate you. Let’s pretend you are my friend and we are sitting down to chat about adoption. My information is based on my experience in the states that I am familiar with.
So, you are thinking about pursuing adoption…where do you go from here? What are your options?
Option #1–Adopting through the state foster care system
When you choose to adopt through the state foster care system, you need to go in with an open mind. The social workers are not there to help you, they are there to help the children. They are overworked and underpaid and depending on where you live the system can be very broken.
Process: From our experience, the process went like this… First, we called and inquired. We went to an informational meeting. At the informational meeting we were given a copy of the listing for waiting kids. (Most of the kids on the list had been waiting a long time. This means more often than not that they had some sort of physical or emotional special need. Sometimes it would be a sibling group. In our foster care system, children that were hard to place were defined as ‘special needs, sibling groups, or children over the age of 9’. Sad sad stuff.)
Once we decided to proceed, we went to a series of classes. I think it was about 6 weeks, once a week. We learned about various aspects of foster care.. We learned about various reasons children might enter foster care and the affects it has on them. During that 6 week period, we also had our fingerprints taken, we were drug tested, we filled out mountains of paperwork, and had a social worker do a few visits to our home as part of our “homestudy”. Part of our paperwork included lists of issues, disabilities, races, etc and we had to check off which ones we were willing to accept.
When we finished our paperwork, we officially decided to one of three choices. Were we interested in foster care only, adoption only, or foster-to-adopt. It is my understanding that foster care only means you take in children whose case plan goal is to eventually reunite them with their birth families if the parents follow the guidelines the judge set up for them. Foster-to-adopt means you take in children whose case plan is headed towards adoption, but nothing is set in stone. Adoption only means you will be waiting the longest. It means that the birth parents of the child have already had their rights terminated. Many times though these children are adopted by their foster parents, especially the young ones.
Even after our family decided to work with a private agency instead of the foster care system, we still sent in inquiries about many children on our state’s photolisting. You can do this if you have a current homestudy. We have received maybe one or two responses that consisted of “thank for your inquiry”. That was it. I would estimate we have inquired this way for at least 20 different kids or sibling groups.
In Arkansas, there is a group called Project Zero that works with the foster care system there to advocate for waiting children and they do lots of events for waiting children. I love following them on Facebook and seeing when they post that there is “one less” waiting child.
That’s my limited knowledge. What else do you want to know about adopting through foster care? OR if you have adopted this way, what else is important to add?
Thanks for reading! I’m so excited about the upcoming posts and I hope you will stick around.