Monday, October 4, 2010

Foster Care

So I have been promising to write the differences between the 3 main ways to adopt.  So I am going to start with what we started with- Foster Care.

How to get started- Contact you local office of community services.  It is called something slightly different in each state.  They offer classes that usually are 30+ hours.   Sometimes they are several Saturdays in a row, sometimes it is every Wednesday night for a few months.  Whichever it is the first step is to call and ask when the next class is, and sign up for it.  Sometimes there is also informational meetings before you start the classes.

Once you have started the classes they will also do a homestudy- through the state, take fingerprints, and assign homework.  The subjects they cover vary from - Why are you here?, to Why do children need to be in care?, to How to get along with birth families?, to How does it feel if you were ripped out of your home with a plastic sack filled with all you have in this world?  All very good subjects to know. 

The other thing covered is - what kind of child or how many children will you take into your home?  Older, younger, skin color, what kinds of abuse- keeping in mind sometimes they don't know if a child has suffered what kind of abuse.  This is a hard question because in our hearts we do foster care to serve- right?  BUT what if??? we can't handle it?   How do you deal with all of those issues that may pop up?  Can you deal with that- with the children you have in your home?

Another big thing is - what do you do when that child or children go back to the birth family- how will you handle that- how will your other children handle that?  Although statistics show that most children removed from the home and placed into foster care do not go home.....there are plenty of reasons and children that do go back to the birth families.

Once you get approved to do foster care.  You wait........sometimes months, sometimes a couple of days, or just wait.  Once the frantic social worker calls- you either accept the placement - or you don't.  It is your choice.  You don't have to.....  Sometimes it is just for respite- which means another family has to have a break for a bit (for various reasons like going on vacation and can't take the child or something has happened in the family they have to deal with etc.)  sometimes "for one night only" he he he he- although I laugh at that because there have been many foster families that have agreed to those one night "only" statements......and several years later- they have adopted that child :).  It happens.

When they call you to take a child it can literally be any time of day or night.  Sometimes it is not even within your parameters, but let's face it sometimes social workers are desperate.  They have a list that they work their way down through.  They have limited information on you, but just call because they don't have a choice.  The thing to remember is that these children had no say in this- most of the time.  They are NOT to blame, but they do need a home.

The social worker shows up with the child or children......and you sign a paper saying you have taken the child into your care.    Then you start caring for that child the best you can.  Knowing that they may be scared out of their mind.  Knowing that their history may be really really really hard.  Knowing that they may hate you for a while or for a longer while.  ALSO knowing that they NEED UNCONDITIONAL LOVE!!!!!!!!  Just like we all do from our Heavenly Father.

Well- what next you ask.  You go to court hearings and so do the children - depending on age and what the judge in your area prefers.  You have social workers visit your home once a month or you at least have contact with them once a month.  You may have what is called a Court Appointed Special Advocate for your child or CASA representative.  (CASA people are volunteers that are to help connect to the child and help advocate what is best for the child- someone who is not biased.)

You have visits with the birth family, part or all of them.  Sometimes these are 2-3 times a week sometimes once a week or every other week...sometimes once a month.  Sometimes you meet at the birth families home, sometimes at a "safe place" that has monitors that take notes during the visit.  Sometimes it is at the social workers office.  Completely depends on the situation and why the child is in care in the first place.

Then you do a lot more waiting....sometimes it is only months before the child goes back to the birth family....sometimes a year or more before they go back.....and then there are times when the child becomes free for adoption because the tragedy that brought the child to you.....could not be resolved or the birth families gave up their rights because it became to difficult and they had no hope left.  It is hard to explain because this is hard for a foster family that has attached to a child and loves them so much to understand the birth family's situation.  So read THIS....

To see photo listings of children available for adoption in your state you can look at these and many more sites:

The cost- NOTHING!  Yep that is right.....the state NEEDS YOUR HELP!!!!!  They in fact usually supplement you to help take care of the children.  It is not a get rich quick is a MISSION FIELD!  The children need a HERO- WILL YOU BE THAT HERO??????

In addition.....there is a way to adopt without fostering first.....although I have heard from many sources that it is very hard to get a hold of any social workers to even talk about the photolistings...etc.  Please do not take that don't do anything, but rather be persistent.  Call any number you can find on the website.  Call your local agency.....whatever you can do to find out more.

Some people will tell you that you will never get a placement....and although statistics about how many children are available in certain areas may be true enough.  The state- trust me - needs help in caring for these BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN!

**If you have any questions about foster care or have some wisdom of your own- please e-mail me or leave a comment.  What a ministry the church can have in this area- to take care of those that are in need- right around the corner :)

***Note:  We adopted 6 of our 8 children through foster care.  2 sets of 3 siblings.  And although it is not easy, NO adoption is easy.  IT IS WORTH EVERY TEAR, SWEAT, & HEART ACHE!!!!!!


  1. We miss foster care. In FL the limit is five children under 18.

  2. Thanks for all the foster care info! Your children are precious!

  3. Wow! Wish I could have followed your story from the beginning!

    How long were you a foster parent? Or are you still? Did you foster with intent to adopt?

    I feel like we are standing at the beginning of an amazing God Story.

  4. thanks for this dawn. for some reason I feel like fostering is in our future. We just had orphan care sunday at our church and i was so torn by the obvious heart God has for the fatherless, I was left feeling like i must act. i know you can relate.

  5. All of our adopted children (5) have been through the foster care system. For those who say they can't afford to adopt, I definitely recommend this route. Many are afraid of the behavior problems that the kids may have (and they do have behavior problems), but the kids do change as you work with them and love them. (I just love it when people tell me how well-behaved my kids are. They have NO idea of the change that has taken place over time.) No adoption is easy, but every adoption is worth it!

  6. Great post! I've been lurking for a few weeks, going through past post etc... I'm loving your blog!
    I have 3 nephews and 1 niece adopted from foster care. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law have fostered 8 children total and adopted the four I mentioned, they also have 3 bio. What an amazing blessing foster care has been to our family! And the children that went home, some after a year, some after a month, are now covered in prayer for the rest of their lives by all of us who loved them. Yes, it was hard and honestly heartbreaking when they it was time for them to go home, it was still so very worth it! And I KNOW my sister-in-law would say the same!
    Love your family Dawn! We are *for now* a family of 6 and we homeschool as well. I'm loving your blog, keep up the good work!

  7. Our state (and many others) license for fost-adopt families as an alternative to regular foster care. A fost-adopt placement is a child who is already legally free for adoption or a child whose parents are in the process of having their parental rights terminated (sometimes one parent is already severed). These children are expected to need an adoptive home; their family has already been ruled out. You are told the risks in the case where the child is not already legally free.

    If your goal is to adopt, this is the preferred route rather than regular foster care. If you enter foster care with the plan to adopt rather than the intent to care for a child temporarily, you place yourself at risk for not being supportive and objective with the birth parents. It is a fine line, but you must remember foster care is temporary until the court makes the decision to terminate parental rights. Even then extended family members often get priority over foster parents. Adoption of a foster child happens, but not every time that we as foster parents think it should.

  8. Thank you for what you do. As a former foster child it means a lot to me!

  9. I have a friend who is consiering adoption, but they aren't sure which route to take yet. I am going to send her a link to your blog! =)

  10. That was very informative! Now I understand why so many people from the States say to me (when they hear we adopt from foster care but have never been foster parents), "I thought you couldn't adopt through foster care unless you foster first." We've adopted both from the US (private special needs)and in Canada (private special needs and foster care)and I must say, all of the options have worked seemlessly! We have another completed home study and are just waiting on the Lord, to show us what to do with it. It's just so exciting (yes, even the waiting!)!!!! Blessings, Jennifer

  11. Thank you for this post, Dawn! It's so encouraging to read about Foster Care from someone who has been through it.

  12. We just had our first foster child recently, so much fun and so crazy to add a new unpredictable little person to the bunch. He left a week ago and I miss him! Luckily he'll be back- we are going to be his longterm respite resource. You are so right, this is a mission field we cannot ignore!

  13. Great post. We're in the classes now to become foster/adoptive parents. I'd love to hear your thoughts and advice on when children are reunited with their birth families. Specifically how to help other children in the home handle it.