Foster children and the parents who support them are our neighbors and friends. It’s interesting, then, that some of us think of foster children as delinquents and foster parents as people who care less about children and more about the check that comes with them every month. Many of us also mistakenly feel that the state agencies that pair vulnerable children with their forever families are, for one reason or another, not as reliable as private domestic adoption agencies. If you’re considering adoption, it’s important to put these and other misconceptions behind you so you can make an informed decision that meets the needs of your family and your community.
According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System (AFCARS), there are more than 100,000 foster children across the US who are currently waiting to be adopted. More than 1,000 of those children are waiting to be adopted right here in New Jersey. Each one has a face, a name and a history of abuse and neglect. Each one deserves a chance at a promising future and a welcoming home just like any other child. Foster care adoption is often their best chance.
Adoption from Foster Care and Private Domestic Adoption: Why Don’t More People Adopt From Foster Care?
Regrettably, many of these children’s stories go untold, and many of the stories that are told go unheard. These children’s lack of exposure to the public eye leaves about 60 percent of people underestimating the number of foster children awaiting adoption and another 50 percent assuming incorrectly that these children landed in foster care because of delinquency. These misconceptions correlate with another set of numbers: in 2013, 92,000 of the more than 400,000 children in foster care had case plans that aimed at adoption. Yet only about 50,000 of those children exited foster care after being adopted.
That means 42,000 children were left waiting, once again, for their forever families to find them. If more people were aware that so many children were in need of safe and stable homes that number would surely fall.
Adoption from Foster Care and Private Domestic Adoption: What Are the Upsides of Adopting from Foster Care?
Misconceptions like the ones above clearly discourage potential adoptive parents from considering foster care adoption, which in turn makes the need for the 100,000 foster children awaiting adoption even greater. Adopting a child from foster care addresses their needs directly. Moreover, it’s a bold step toward ridding society of the outdated misconceptions surrounding foster children.
And it’s a wise step toward a bright future for the child. The state agencies that find placements for foster children are funded by tax dollars. That being the case, they do not expect parents who wish to adopt children from the foster care system to cover the many costs involved with transferring custody. From lawyer’s fees to court costs, the state has parents who adopt from foster care covered. In fact, adoptive parents can expect to receive help from the state for their services to children in need long into the future – a monthly subsidy can help offset the cost of raising an adopted child until he turns 21. That subsidy coupled with the savings from foster care adoption leave plenty of financial wiggle room for those who adopt from foster care to provide for their children.
Adoption from Foster Care and Private Domestic Adoption: Which Works Best with My Lifestyle?
On the other hand, private domestic adoption agencies are not subsidized through state or federal dollars. That’s why most private adoptions end up costing the adoptive parent between $25,000 and $50,000 by the time the process is complete. Then, after a child is privately adopted into his forever family, the adoptive parents are expected to cover the myriad costs involved with raising that child on their own. According to the US Department of Agriculture, that can add up to between $250,000 and $300,000 through age 18.
Spending $25,000 to $50,000 – enough for a down payment on a home – would lead most potential private adoptive parents to believe that they are entitled to something above and beyond what foster care adoption provides. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The only advantages come in two areas: private adoption agencies are more likely to connect the adoptive parent with an infant, and in most cases adoptive parents will receive their placement more quickly.
If you only want to adopt an infant, you want the child as soon as possible and you’re comfortable with absorbing all of the costs of transferring custody and raising a child on your own, private adoption may be right for you.
But if you want to provide a more stable financial future for your child in care, foster care adoption is the right choice. If you care deeply about your community and the well being of the children who make it up, foster care adoption is the right pathway. If you want to have a meaningful impact where the need is greatest, foster care adoption is right for you.