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Deciding to Pursue Adoption
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.
Characteristics needed to be a good adoptive parent include:
- Being stable, mature, dependable, and flexible
- Having the ability to advocate for children
- Being a team player with your family or child welfare worker
It is important to understand that children and teens in foster care have lost a lot in their short lives. They may feel alone, afraid, and reluctant to trust. Read more about understanding trauma and helping children who have experienced trauma succeed.
If you want to hear from real parents who have adopted and fostered, watch the video above. It’s a chapter from our film The Road to Adoption and Foster Care. You can also watch the entire film (Flash – 2:00 hr.).
What You Need to Do
- Educate Yourself About Adoption
- Contact a Local Agency
- Attend an Orientation Meeting
- Understand the Difference Between Adopting and Fostering
Ready to take the next step?
When deciding to pursue adoption from foster care, we recommend finding resources that can help you prepare for the adoption process, such as connecting with families who have already adopted and contacting a local agency that can assist you with the process.
The video to the right, made available by the Children’s Action Network, can answer some common and basic questions you might have about adoption. Child Welfare Information Gateway also has a great list of resources of things to consider before
If you need help connecting with resources or a local agency, contact us.
Contacting the local office of your state or county public child welfare agency is the best way to connect with resources and learn about adoption policies in your State. Contact us and our adoption specialists can help you find contact information for your local agency and also provide contact information for private adoption agencies in your area that will work with public agencies.
Choosing an agency should take into account your family's personal preferences regarding the adoption services provided by that agency. You can either use our interactive map of state adoption and foster care information for finding a local agency, or search Child Welfare Information Gateway’s National Foster Care and Adoption Directory.
If you have any questions about these resources or how to connect with a local agency, contact us.
When you contact a local adoption agency, you will most likely be invited to attend an orientation meeting where you will find out more about:
- Children in foster care
- Roles and responsibilities of adoptive parents
- The process you will need to go through to adopt
- Next steps to take on the journey to adoption
During orientation, you may hear for the first time the real challenges involved with adopting a child from foster care. It’s all right to become conflicted as your emotions rise to the surface. You don’t have to make any major decisions at this point. The only thing you need to do is decide whether or not you want to continue with the journey to adoption.
If you attend an orientation meeting, all you need to do is:
- Show up with an open heart and mind
- Ask questions and listen carefully to what the presenters say
- Take notes on things such as what you have to do next, who your important contacts are, and when the next meeting will happen
Sometimes families who are not ready to adopt, which is a legally binding transfer of all parenting rights and responsibilities, will consider being a foster parent. 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.
If you think foster care might be a better fit for your family at this time, we invite you to find out more about how to foster.