Kathy and Rachel have done a wonderful job explaining the Home Study process for Private Domestic Infant adoption and International adoption. I thought I would write a Blog about the Home Study process for adopting a baby or child from the United States Foster care systems.
In most states the cost of a Foster to Adopt or Straight Pre Adoptive Home Study is FREE. The fact is our income taxes currently pay to support more then 500,000 children in the foster care system with a third of these children waiting for adoptive families. Every working American currently supports these children and finding forever families is a high priority for every state in the country.
Caring for a child currently in foster care is fully subsidized by the American public In 1997 the Adoption and Safe Families Act, ASFA was passed in order to help find permanent homes for the estimated 120,000 children who go to bed each night waiting for parents who will adopt them. The ASFA established several mandates for each state and part of these mandates included helping families who may not otherwise be able to afford adoption the ability to do so. In most cases adopting a child from foster care is free and in many cases families who do adopt have assistance to meet the needs of the children until they become adults.
It can be difficult to get the process started with the state. Some state offices report that fewer then 10% of the calls from interested families result in adoption. Getting past the receptionist can be a hurdle to jump as it is impossible for the person who answers your call, to determine which one family of ten calls will actually proceed. It is also difficult because so many families call with interest in the youngest children there will never be a shortage of families who want to adopt an infant. Your first call to the state is NOT a commitment it is for information. I always advise families to tell the person who screens the calls, they are open minded and would like training and information about the methods of adoption the state has.
Typically, families will receive a packet of information including times and dates for orientation and training classes. Sometimes the packet will include the adoption or foster parent application. Which is the foundation for the State Adoption Home Study. Some states have a simple form where the potential adoptive parents answer a few questions other states like mine have 26 pages of open ended questions. Either way families interested in adopting a child from the state need to accept the fact that the state has children to take care of and this comes before our dreams. Depending on the number of children in care and the number of case workers the process can and often does seem to start very slow.
In a way I have come to see the process of adopting a child from the US foster care system as training for parenting children with needs the average child does not have. Part of me actually believes that getting through the training and home study is intentionally made difficult in order to weed out those not up to the realities of parenting a hurt child. When you contact the state keep in mind they are not looking for children for families they are looking for families for children. If it seems difficult to get started consider this to be the first day of many hoops to jump through on the way to becoming a child’s forever family.
My next Blog will outline some of the things about a State Adoption Home Study and how they may differ from other kinds of adoption homes studies.