Adopting Children from Foster Care
We believe children flourish when they have a stable, loving home. And in some cases, that means the best thing for a child in foster care is to be adopted by his or her foster family. As a licensed foster family, when you accept placement of a child into your home under the supervision of the Department of Child Services, that child may become eligible for adoption in cases where his or her birth family was negligent or abusive. Here’s how it works.
A Permanent Home for Foster Children
When you become a foster parent, you may be matched with children of any age, race, or cultural background, though you can specify your placement preferences and decide whether to accept each potential placement. Sometimes, pre-placement meetings between the children and family can also be arranged.
When children are first removed from their family to be placed into foster care, their permanency plan will initially be reunification with their birth family. If reunification is not possible, the foster child may become eligible to be adopted after their birth parents’ parental rights are terminated through a court process.
As a foster parent, you can specify that you only want to take placement of children who are a “legal risk,” or for whom it seems likely that parental rights will be terminated making them eligible for adoption.
During or after that termination process, the current foster parents may be recommended by DCS to proceed with adopting the child. In that case, a foster parent may begin the process of adoption.
The Benefits of a Stable Home
Foster parents should know that the adoption process is not immediate. Often, 18 months or more pass before the child’s plan is changed from reunification to adoption, and typically it takes a year or more from the time the plan changes to when the adoption is finalized.
But we see many benefits for kids and their parent when children are adopted from foster care. Fostering children prior to adoption allows potential adoptive parents the experience of improving their community by providing a stable and loving home for children who have experienced trauma and sometimes by serving as mentors to the child’s birth family. And for children, it provides the experience of a stable, loving home.
The Indiana Adoption Program
This program is offered by the Indiana Department of Child Services for children who are under DCS supervision after having been removed from their birth family due to neglect or abuse, and who are in need of permanent families. Families interested in this program don’t necessarily need to be licensed foster families in order to participate.
The children involved in this program are older than 2 years old, typically aged 8-16. They may have a medical condition or physical, emotional, or cognitive disability. They may also be part of a sibling group which needs to be placed together.
More information on this program is available through the DCS website.
Wendy’s Wonderful Kids
The Villages of Indiana is pleased to be implementing Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, a signature program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption that is bringing children waiting to be adopted from foster care one step closer to safe, loving and permanent homes.
Through Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, the Foundation provides grants to adoption agencies to hire and train adoption recruiters who implement the Foundation’s evidence-based Child-Focused Recruitment Model. This model is up to three times more effective at serving children who have been in foster care the longest, including older youth, sibling groups and children with special needs.
The Villages currently has two Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters who serve northern and southwestern counties in the state. Our recruiters work with smaller caseloads, ensuring that they can provide these children with the attention, resources and support they need and find the adoptive families they deserve.
Requirements and Cost
To adopt a child from foster care, you must first pass licensure as a foster home. That includes foster parent training (20 hours initially and annually), background checks, and home study completion. Fortunately, The Villages will be there to support you every step of the way.
The Villages doesn’t charge potential foster families for licensure. Usually, the only costs are the private attorney fees necessary to finalize the adoption. The Department of Child Services often provides reimbursement for those fees, and any other one-time expenses, up to $1,500. An adoption subsidy payment and/or medical insurance may also be negotiated as part of the adoption process.