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 whatever....you 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 scheme....it 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!!!!!!
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