Taking the first step is always the hardest. Many hopeful parents feel the call to adopt a foster child and dream of giving the gift of a loving, safe home. But, if you’re like many others, you may be unsure of where to start. Foster care, like all types of adoption, is a complex legal process. You probably have a lot of questions, and may even be wondering, “I want to adopt a child in foster care — how can I get started?” Here are some tips you should know.
Is Foster Care Adoption Right for You?
Each year, the need for permanent families for children in foster care only grows. It takes loving, hopeful parents to guide these children on the right path and help them succeed. Before you do anything else, think about if adopting from foster care or choosing foster-to-adopt is right for you. It takes time, openness and, most of all, persistence to get through the process. You can’t rush a decision like this, so it will take a lot of work before you know you’re ready.
Thinking about adopting from foster care and actually adopting from foster care are two very different things. Before you take the next step, ask yourself these questions if you want to adopt a foster child:
- Do I want to adopt an older child, and am I prepared for the potential challenges of that process?
- How do I feel about adopting a sibling group or a child with special needs?
- Can I provide the kind of life a foster child deserves?
- Am I ready for the challenges of parenting a foster child?
- Most importantly, am I ready to be a parent?
If you feel good about your answers to these questions, then that’s a sign you’re on the right path. Think long and hard about why you want to adopt a foster child before making this decision. Making sure that you’re emotionally prepared for the journey is the first step to knowing if adopting from foster care is right for you.
‘I Want to Adopt a Child in Foster Care’: Tips to Follow
Going from “I want to adopt a foster child” to actually adopting a foster child is a lengthy, complex process. These are just a few of our tips to make your journey a little easier.
Tip 1: Learn Everything You Can About Foster Care
Education is the first step to becoming a great parent. This type of adoption is a rewarding opportunity, but like all types of adoption, it comes with unique challenges. Once you become a parent, you’re a parent for life. So, don’t make this decision lightly. One of the best places to start is by reaching out to other foster-adoptive parents and reading real stories. Support groups for hopeful parents who want to adopt a foster child can be found across the country, so reach out to other foster parents to learn about their experiences. When you’re thinking, “I want to adopt a child from foster care”, you’ll find a community of people ready to support you and answer your questions.
Tip 2: Learn About the Children in Foster Care
Every child’s situation is different. Children in foster care come from environments that aren’t always safe or stable. Start thinking about the kinds of situations your family is open to before bringing a child into your home. Keep in mind that the average foster child is around 8 years old, part of a sibling group, and often living with some degree of “special needs.” That means that you need to do a lot of research to make sure you can meet their unique needs. These children need as much love and support as any child.
Tip 3: Contact a Foster Care Agency
Each state has its own requirements for hopeful parents who want to adopt a foster child, and the process to become certified can vary. The good news is there are plenty of resources available at your disposal — and plenty of professionals who are ready and eager to help. To learn more about exactly what to expect during your foster care adoption process, start by contacting a local professional who can answer your questions and be your guide through this journey.
Tip 4: Connect with Your Friends and Family
A strong support system can make all the difference in an adoption. Not everyone understands the decision to adopt from foster care. But the ones who do will be with you every step of the way. Talk to your friends and family about how you want to adopt a foster child and ways that they can help. They may not understand the entire process, but they will always want to support you.
Your Next Steps
Now that you’re prepared, you’re ready to take the first step toward adoption. Don’t forget that there are people who are ready to help. If you’re thinking, “I want to adopt a child from foster care,” remember that you can always reach out to a foster care agency or an adoption professional today to learn more.