Adoption can come through many different avenues. I hope this helps simplify the different types of adoption available.
Adopting Waiting Children from Foster Care
Children enter foster care for many reasons, including abuse, neglect and dependency. When they are removed from their biological parents the goal is almost always reunification with their first family. The placement into foster care is a temporary safety measure to ensure the wellbeing of the children. Services are put in place to help the biological family resolve the issues leading to the removal of their children. Check out our Foster Care page for more information about Foster Care.
After efforts to assist with reunification are exhausted and ample opportunity is provided without success, another plan is made to give the children permanency in a safe and loving home through adoption. Extended family members are considered and even the foster parents that have cared for the children. For various reasons it is not always possible for these families to adopt the children and that leaves the welfare system searching for an adoptive home.
These children are referred to as ‘waiting children’. Most often they are legally free for adoption (or in the process) and awaiting a family to claim them as their own, providing a permanent home for them through the process of adoption. The children you will see on foster care and adoption websites are in this situation.
Waiting children are typically older children and adolescents, a part of a sibling group or have special needs. They are truly the children in most need of a family, as all other options have been exhausted for them.
If you are interested in learning more about adopting a waiting child from foster care, I urge you to visit the Adopt Us Kids website. Contacting your own local department of social services will get you started and lead you in the right direction. There are also private agencies that facilitate adoptions from foster care. Check out my Adoption and Foster Care Resource page for more information.
Foster to Adopt
Foster to adopt is different from adopting a waiting child from foster care. It requires that you first become a foster parent. A foster parent’s roles is to provide a safe, stable, loving environment for children who come into the foster care system. You essentially welcome children into your home, feed them, clothe them, parent them and love them until they can return to their first homes.
The children who enter foster care may have suffered trauma, abuse or neglect and require a special kind of love and attention to help them thrive. They have also been removed from their parents and home, all they have ever known, and may be confused and grieving. Being a foster parent requires a significant amount of patience and understanding as you help the children heal and work to reunify the broken family.
When reunification is not possible and the permanency plan is changed to adoption, efforts are made to legally free the children for adoption. Extended family members are searched for as adoption options, but when they are not available, the foster parents are considered. When the foster parents are able to adopt the children they have been fostering it has huge benefits for the children. The children are already familiar with the parents and have usually had time to adjust to their new home. The family has been functioning as a unit and another move is not required, helping with the attachment process. The less moves a child is required to make, the easier trust and attachment comes.
Becoming a foster parent solely for the purpose of adopting a child can prove difficult and even damaging to the foster care process.
Expect many children to enter your home and then leave again. Remember, foster care is temporary. An important role of the foster parent is to help assist with the reunification process by nurturing bonds the children have with their first families. If this is not a priority it can disrupt the child’s sense of security.
Foster parenting is a challenging, but rewarding experience. Being in a position to help children when they need it most is an amazing blessing. Check out our Foster Care page for more information about Foster Care and our page on Becoming a Foster Parent. Also, check out my Adoption and Foster Care Resource page.
Domestic Newborn Adoption
Domestic Newborn Adoption is a common avenue for adoption in the United States. This process begins with an expectant mother who decides that she is not willing or able to parent the child that will be born to her, and she chooses to make an adoption plan for her child instead of parenting. The biological mother makes contact with an adoption agency who helps her match with a prospective adoptive couple. This prospective couple has also made contact with the agency and created a profile with a letter and photos for the expectant mothers to review.
When a match is made between an expectant mother making an adoption plan and a prospective adoptive family the agency facilitates the adoption process once the baby is born.
There are varying degrees of information shared between the two parties depending on personal preferences of both the biological and adoptive parents. There are also occasions when the biological mother allows the agency to make the match instead of being directly involved. Closed, open and semi-open adoptions are created with domestic newborn adoption. There are even instances when the adoptive parents are present at the child’s birth. A possibility to consider with domestic newborn adoption is the chance that the expectant mother may change her mind before or after she gives birth or before the adoption is final. Check out Adoption & Foster Care Resources for more information.
International Adoption involves adopting a child from a country outside of your own. There are only a select number of countries that allow the adoption of their children by people outside of their country. Some of the more common countries that children are adopted from by Americans include China, Russia, Ethiopia, Ukraine and South Korea to name a few. The Hague Treaty sets the legal standards for international adoption and families are required to work with an agency that specializes in adoption from that country in order to ensure the laws are followed.
The homestudy process includes preparing a long list of notarized documents as part of a Dossier for the child’s country. Travel to that country, sometimes more than once, and extended stays may be required in some instances. Each country has different laws and regulations.
International adoption can be the most restrictive route of adoption and also has issues to consider, like incomplete or inaccurate information about the child to be adopted. Birth certificates and medical histories may not be available or correct. Children adopted internationally are several months old to a year at the youngest. Newborns are usually not adopted internationally due to the long process of matching the children with their families and for the adoption approval. Waiting times may be lengthy and adoption laws may change without notice with international adoption. For more information check out our Adoption & Foster Care Resource page.
Private adoption is when a family adopts a child without an agency involved in the matching and finalization process. An attorney is typically used to ensure the adoption is legal and done correctly to avoid future problems. In private adoption, the adopting family and the biological family either know each other or are introduced by acquaintances and are both in agreement of the adoption taking place. Care must be taken in private adoptions so that laws are followed appropriately so that the adoption is legal and permanent.
Kinship adoption involves a family member adopting a child from their extended family. This can be due to family member death, foster care or parental relinquishment. When a child enters foster care, family members are often searched for to care for the child and if the child cannot return home adoption by the relative is considered. A benefit of kinship adoption is that the child does not have to lose complete connection to their family of origin.
Adoption, no matter the route, involves a loss and gain of a family for a child.
Check out our Adoption and Foster Care Resource Page