What is the first step in becoming a foster parent or an adoptive parent?
A complete list of adoption agencies can be found at:
When you first contact an agency, be sure to ask them plenty of questions â€“ any question you have is important enough to be answered. You may want to ask:
How long will the home study or foster care licensing process take? Will I have to pay any fees? What fees will be reimbursed once an adoption is complete? How long will I wait until I am identified as a family for a child? Will the agency complete my adopton homestudy even if I donâ€™t want to foster a child or get a foster care license? What services are provided to me once my homestudy is complete? When and where are the adoption training classes held?
Feel free to call several agencies and ask them the same kinds of questions before making a final decision. Be sure you feel comfortable with the agency you choose; you will be working closely with them for a long time during the process, and will be sharing private and personal information. They will also become your strongest advocate in this process.
Whatâ€™s the difference between foster care and adoption?
A foster parentâ€™s primary role is to help in efforts to reunite the child with their birth family. This may include visits between the child and birth parents (when appropriate), taking a child to counseling (if needed), and working closely with the foster care worker. Children may stay in the foster home for several days, weeks or months â€“ perhaps even a year or longer
â€“ while birth parents are working to resolve the issues that brought the children into care in the first place. Sometimes, a child is unable to return home; it is then that the court terminates parental rights and the child becomes available for adoption.
Adoptive parents become the childâ€™s legal parent. Their lifelong commitment and responsibility are no less important than if the child was born to them.
Waiting child adoption, often referred to as special needs adoption, means adopting a child from the foster care system.
â€śSpecial needsâ€ť often makes people think of children with severe problems or limitations, such as needing a wheelchair. In reality, waiting children fall into one or more of the following categories: ď‚· Minority children of all ages (65% of waiting children are African American).
In most cases, these children have had traumatic past experiences that may include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and/or severe neglect. Others may have been drug and/or alcohol exposed. All of these children have experienced the grief and loss of having been separated from their families.
International adoption means adopting a child from a country other than the United States. The kinds of children available vary by country. Also, each country has certain restrictions about the types of families that can adopt, including age and marital status. Adoption fees for an international adoption can range from upwards of $10,000.
Infant adoption involves adopting an infant at birth. Birth parents often choose the family they wish to adopt their child, and there is usually some â€śopennessâ€ť in infant adoption. The amount of openness in an infant adoption is decided by the birth parents and adoptive parents, and may include photographs, letters, and possibly even visits. Families adopting an infant spend thousands of dollars, and may wait upwards of three years for a placement. It is estimated that each year there are 25,000 infants available for adoption â€“ and one million families waiting for those infants.
Should I become a foster parent so I can adopt a younger child?
Sometimes, however, children are unable to return home. Once parental rights are terminated, relatives and foster parents are given consideration for adoption.
What does â€śfoster-to-adoptâ€ť mean? What about â€śdual licensingâ€ť?
Do I have to be married to adopt or be a foster parent?
Do I have to own my own home?
Do I need to make a lot of money?
Why are so many of the children available for adoption from foster care older? Are there any younger children available for adoption?
Can I adopt just one child in a sibling group?
You do not have to be rich to adopt or be a foster parent. Even if you receive some type of financial assistance, you are still eligible to adopt or provide foster care as long as you have adequate financial resources to provide for your family and the additional children you with to bring into your home.
What is an adoption homestudy?
On average, it takes six months to finalize an adoption after a child is placed in your home. During this time your adoption worker will visit you regularly to see how your new family is adjusting. Counseling and support services may be available after a child is placed in your home. The home study generally includes the following:
Personal History â€“ A complete history and evaluation of your current family life and past experiences â€“ and how they will affect your capacity to parent an adoptive child â€“ is written. This helps the adoption worker decide how a child will fit into your family, and determine what type of child might do best in your home. Children living in the home are also interviewed (depending on their age and level of understanding) about how they feel and what adoption means to them. Any other adult in the home (parents, aunts, cousins, live-together partners), will also be interviewed.
Health Statements â€“ Everyone in your home will need to provide a medical history and a recent physical (within one year). A medical condition that is under control (high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) usually will not prevent a person from being approved to adopt.
Criminal Background Check- All adults living in the home will need to complete a State Police check and Protective Service clearance. Some counties may also require local police clearances, as well. Adoptive parents will also need to provide fingerprints.
Income Statement â€“ You will be asked to provide proof of your income, such as a copy of an income tax form, a paycheck stub, or a W-2 form. Bank statements and insurance policies may also be requested.
Personal References- You will be asked to provide the names, addresses, and phone numbers of three unrelated individuals who can share their knowledge about your experience with children, the stability of your marriage and/or household, and your motivation to adopt.
Training â€“ You will need to complete a minimum of 12 hours of Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education (PRIDE) training.
What happens once my home study is completed? How long will it take for a child to be placed in my home?
Families and children need time to get to know one another. Visitation will take place in a way that is best for the child and family, and may include afternoon visits, overnight visits, and even weekend visits. It is up to the childâ€™s and familyâ€™s
workers to determine the schedule, including when a child will make the final move into a familyâ€™s home.
These same procedures apply for families adopting a child from another state. Families need to be prepared to travel to the state the child lives in for at least an initial meeting and visit, and perhaps even for an extended stay.
Is there some kind of financial assistance available if I choose to foster or adopt a child?
The amount paid is dependent on the needs of the child, not the family. The amount is set by the State agency responsible for the childâ€™s care. In the case of adoption, subsidy eligibility must be determined before the petition for adoption is filed, and a subsidy agreement must be signed before the adoption is final. Not all children will qualify for adoption subsidy. It is dependent upon each childâ€™s individual needs.
Anyone applying to become a foster parent must be between 18 and 65 years of age, and be able to:
Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE)
Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS)
Child Welfare League of America
Child Welfare Information Gateway
FosterClubâ€™s Booster Club
North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC)
Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange