You may have been fostering for years but never considered adoption. A child in foster care comes into your home and takes a place in your heart forever. After being in your care for a while, you find out that he will soon be legally free and available for adoption. You know you want to adopt him, but you may be feeling overwhelmed and not sure of what steps to take. What do you do? When it comes to adoption, like countless things in life, there are many variables to consider.
According to Adopt America Network (AAN, there are approximately 130,000 children in care that are waiting for a forever home. Nationwide, the basic steps for adopting children from foster care include completing an initial application, participating in a home study, creating a match with an individual child, placing the child in the home and, lastly, the approval of adoption in the court of law. Of course, this is just a brief summary of the adoption process as it goes into great detail and varies depending on the state.
There is a comfort in knowing you have a team of skilled professionals that are there to assist you along the way. In New Jersey the support staff at FAFS is a great asset to foster, adoptive and kinship families, and to those who are interested in adoption. For questions concerning the adoption process in your state specifically, please visit AdoptUSKids.
Support For Prospective Adopters From Foster Care In NJ: The Role of the Information Line
If you are not a licensed resource parent and are interested in adopting a child in care, you must follow the steps necessary to open your home. To connect with FAFS’ support staff in New Jersey, you can either go online or call our Information Line at 1.800.222.0047. You will complete an inquiry that will start you on the process to becoming licensed. Once you fill out that initial inquiry, a local recruiter will invite you to group session where the entire licensing process will be explained in detail. If you make a decision to open your home for adoption, you will begin all steps that are necessary, including the home study and pre-service training processes.
Support For Prospective Adopters From Foster Care In NJ: The Role of the FAFS Family Advocate
If you make a decision to adopt a child in your care, this means you must prepare to work with different staff within the child welfare system. Your FAFS Family Advocates (FFAs) are here to walk to you step by step through the adoption process.
When a child is in foster care, he is assigned to the permanency unit. It is the hope of this unit to either reunite the child with his family, or if reunification cannot be accomplished, take steps necessary to give him the forever family he deserves. If the decision of adoption is made, he will then be assigned to an adoption unit. In this unit, he will have a new caseworker and the process for the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) will begin. This hearing is designed to review the child’s permanency plan and make concrete decisions on where the child in care should ultimately be placed. When you attend the hearing, you are encouraged to address every issue concerning the adoption. It is vital that you are educated enough to make the best decisions possible for you and, most importantly, the child in your care. The FFA is a liaison between the foster parent and the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) and gives extra support by bringing important issues to the forefront and reminding the parent to address concerns (i.e., having access to the child in care’s complete division and parental histories). They stress the importance of knowing the child’s history, so you can effectively provide the care he needs.
Before attending a permanency hearing, there may be some general questions you need answered. Our FFAs are here to address questions like:
These are just some of the many questions FFAs can assist you with. They are knowledgeable of DCP&P policy and are here to help you consider every possible situation you may face and ways to address them. As you go through the adoption process, they encourage you to ask as many questions as possible you need. That’s why they’re here.
Support For Prospective Adopters From Foster Care In NJ: We Are Here No Matter the Outcome
When you talk about adoption, each scenario is different. Just because you go through the TPR process and attend the permanency hearing, it doesn’t mean the adoption will be finalized. There is a possibility the TPR can be appealed. If that occurs, you have to be mindful that the child in your care can be returned to his biological family. You should be prepared to face this possible outcome. Through it all, keep in mind that the best interest of child should always be considered.
No matter what you are facing, our support staff is knowledgeable and ready to help you during the adoption process and beyond.
Children in foster care that live in America want what any other child in the country or the world wants – a home where they are safe and loved. You may not be able to imagine what it’s like to be removed from a situation of abuse or neglect and not knowing when you will be reconnected with your family, if you are ever reconnected at all, but no matter how much you may try to imagine it, it’s a true story for thousands of children in care throughout the country. Countless children in foster care await the prospect of a forever home so they can grow in stable and healthy environments and break the cycle of abuse in their lives. Adoption brings the light of hope to children whose pasts threaten to dim their futures.