Do you believe in love at first sight? Many people do. In fact, in a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll on CBS.com in January 2013, 56% of Americans said they believed. Some may have their doubts, but those who have experienced love at first sight say for certain that it’s real.
Not everyone who falls in love at first sight does it romantically. Parents telling the story of the first time they saw their child often describe their depth of emotion in much the same way as someone might describe the first time they saw their significant other: an overwhelming feeling of destiny or that they would do anything to be with that person and keep them safe from harm.
Foster parents who experience these emotions for a child placed in their home may have a difficult road ahead of them, since the goal of fostering is not adoption but giving children safe and stable places to call home until they can be safely reunited with their parents. However, in some cases, reunification can’t occur, and these children become free for adoption.
Adoption from Foster Care Statistics
As reported by Cathy Payne in USA Today in August 2013, foster care adoption is on the rise. “Last year, 13.1% of children in foster care were adopted, an increase from 12.6% in 2011, according to statistics released today by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families…Of the 1.8 million adopted children in the USA, 37% came from foster care, according to the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents.”
The 2013 National Foster Care Adoption Attitudes Survey, conducted on behalf of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in July 2012, concurred. “The percentage of Americans who have adopted from foster care increased from [our] 2007 survey, showing greater increases in foster care adoption than international or private adoption, which saw a nine percent decrease.”
Some foster parents choose to adopt a child already placed in their home. Others may want to adopt someday but have not yet found the child for whom they’re the right family. Some people have never fostered but would like to give a child who has been in foster care a forever family to call their own.
The Process of Child Specific Adoption from Foster Care
People hoping to adopt from foster care often search online at sites like AdoptUsKids.org and heartgalleryofamerica.org. These sites offer the chance for them to see photo listings of waiting children and read a brief summary of each child’s needs and interests. For many prospective parents, these sites are where they fall in love at first sight with the child they’ll one day proudly call “daughter” or “son”.
In the State of New Jersey, the Office of Adoption Operations handles these child specific adoption requests. If the person who wants to adopt is already a foster parent, the process consists mainly of doing an updated home study and determining that they’re a good fit for the child.
If the person who wants to adopt is not already a foster parent (also known as a resource parent), he/she must obtain a resource parent license from the State in order to be considered. Interest in a specific child can sometimes move the process forward faster than a general adoption request, but all requirements, including an approved home study, must be met. Once that has taken place, the Child Specific Recruiter arranges visits between the prospective parent and the child, helping them get to know each other and decide if they are the best match.
Like some cases of love at first sight, not every prospective parent and chosen child end up together. In some cases, the person wanting to adopt is unwilling or unable to complete the licensing process. In other cases, the parent is simply not the best match for the child they chose. Sometimes the child they would be best for is not the one they thought. Since Child Specific Recruiters get to know the waiting children they work with well, they are often able to spot a potential match. In that case, they will suggest that the person wanting to adopt consider another child instead. Many times, the prospective parent ends up falling in love at first sight all over again, and the lives of a family and a waiting child are changed – in a wonderful way – forever.