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Adopting From Foster Care

Filed under: Adoption

Adopting from foster care can be more affordable than adopting privately, either domestically or internationally. It may not be necessary to become foster-care licensed to adopt from foster care, but it will likely make the process easier and allow you to take custody sooner. State foster-care agencies cannot discriminate against applicants on the basis of sexual orientation, age, marital status, race, religion, or ethnic group, making adoption from foster care a good option for those who do not meet criteria for other adoption programs.

Getting foster-care licensed

Many would-be parents explore adoption from foster care by becoming foster-care licensed. To get foster-care licensed, you will need to take a training course and have a criminal background check. Your family will be investigated in a "home study" to make sure you will provide a safe, stable environment, and a state or agency worker will verify you can afford to provide for the child.

Then you will begin seeking children to be placed in your home. You will be able to specify the type of children you are willing to take for foster placement. Some states offer foster-to-adopt programs specifically designed to encourage adoptive parents to foster and eventually adopt children in the system. These programs focus on finding foster placements for children who are either legally free or expected to be legally free soon.

The adoption process

Adopting a child from foster care involves both navigating the adoption process and meeting the requirements of your state's foster-care system.

Steps to take include:

  1. Locate an independent adoption agency or work directly with the state foster-care agency to facilitate your adoption.
  2. Have a home study done by either the state or an independent agency.
  3. Work with the state or an independent agency to identify a foster child you would like to adopt, then coordinate with the child's caseworker to meet the child and develop a plan for taking the child into your home.

You may need to become foster-care licensed if you want the child to live with you during the often year-long wait for the adoption to be finalized. Caseworkers will visit and check up on how the child is adjusting to your home.

Once the supervision period is complete, your adoption can be finalized in court. Costs to you should be fairly low, as there are no adoption fees. You will want to retain an experienced adoption attorney to make sure your adoption is properly handled.

You may be eligible for ongoing state-sponsored financial or medical aid if the child you adopt has special needs. This should be negotiated before your adoption is finalized.

Additional resources: Adopting a Child from the Foster Care System

Department of Health and Human Services: National Foster Care & Adoption Directory Search (resources by state)

Related Legal Guides:

Adopting from Birth Parents

International Adoption

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