Over the years, my own family has been blessed with the gift of adopting three children from foster care. These have been joyous events for my family, but there were also times of great anxiety, too, when it appeared that the adoptions might not go through as first planned. Fortunately, all three adoptions did take place, and my wife and I are now loving parents of six children. Three of these are biological, three are adopted. Three children are considered “white” by today’s society, while the other three are considered “black.” In our home, though, there is no difference in color, as we believe that we are all the same color; just different shades of God’s skin.
When a child is placed into foster care, the initial goal is to have the child reunified with his birth parents, or a member of his biological family. To be sure, the initial intent of placing a child into care is that the placement be a temporary, with reunification the main objective.
Yet, there are those instances when reunification is not possible, and the child is placed through the court system for adoption.
Of the over 560,000 children placed in foster care in 2010, it is estimated that 107,000 of these foster children became eligible for adoption. Sadly, only around 53,000 of these children were adopted during that year, with over half of these children being adopted by foster parents, with the rest being adopted by family members, and a small percentage being adopted by non relatives. Nearly 60% of children in foster care in America wait 2 or more years before being adopted.
For those children who are not adopted, many remain in the foster care system for extended periods of time. Some of these children are moved to group homes, while others simply age out of the foster care system, never truly finding a family of their own and a place to call home. (The Foster Parenting Manual, Jessica Kinglsey Publishers, DeGarmo 2013).
There are several reasons why a foster child might be placed up for adoption. First, the custody rights of the birth parents are voluntarily terminated; secondly, the custody rights of the birth parents are terminated by a court order; and third, the child is up for adoption due to the death of birth parents.
As foster parents, there are many reasons why we are the ideal choice to adopt a foster child. Many times when a child from foster care has his rights terminated, he has already been living in a loving and stable home with his foster family. When we care for foster children, we raise them as our own for an extended amount of time, meeting his needs, and nurturing him since he was removed from his birth parent’s home. Perhaps you are a foster family that cares for children with special needs. If so, you are the ones most familiar with these needs, and have gained valuable insight and resources how to best meet them and care for your foster child.
Far too many foster children struggle with school, as they move from home to home, and from school to school. When we adopt our foster children, we allow them to remain in the same school system, benefitting from having the same teachers who are already familiar with him and his needs. Often times, we have formed strong, loving, and important attachments with our foster children while they are placed in our home. If you are like me, our foster children often become a member of our family, and when they are be able to legally stay with us, there is a time of rejoicing.
Recently, child welfare agencies have found that foster parents are the ideal people to adopt a foster child. After all, the foster family has been raising the child for an extended amount of time, meeting his needs, and nurturing him since he was removed from his birth parent’s home. If he has special needs, the foster parents are familiar with these, and have gained valuable insight and resources how to best meet these needs. Adoption by his foster parents will also allow him to remain in the same school system, benefitting from having the same teachers who are already familiar with him and his needs. The child is familiar with his foster parents, and has formed a strong and meaningful attachment to them during the course of his placement within their home. As the child has come to live, laugh, and love with the family, he has likely become a member of the family, and will be able to legally stay with a family he has come to know and trust.