3 Things I Learned About Foster Care Adoption

Adoption Through Foster Care, Deciding to Adopt / Friday, February 14th, 2014

I will be up front with you. I didn’t want to attend orientation. Like you, I’ve been to MANY “waste of time” meetings where very little is learned or accomplished. Honestly, I was worried this would be one of those experiences. Boy was I wrong! In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever learned as much in such a short period of time, and I truly thought I had researched enough on the topic of adoption that I would know at least most of the information being presented. The presenter did a wonderful job of clearly explaining the process, different types of adoption, and common misconceptions of adoption from foster care. Attending Orientation was well worth the time invested, and I highly recommend attending so that you can familiarize yourself with the agency representing you. You may even learn a few things you didn’t know, like I did. Here are a few things I walked away with…

3 Things I Learned About Foster Care Adoption:

1.  CPS does not treat all families equal. — Our presenter explained it this way, “CPS is the pickiest parent ever, and they want the best for their children.” CPS prefers kinship care, foster care or adoption by a relative or someone familiar to the family. The procedures for kinship care is much less substantial and always takes priority over other types of placement. You have probably heard of foster or adoptive families waiting to adopt children they are attached to only to hear about a long lost family member come out of the wood work at the last minute to take the children. CPS will always side with relatives, regardless of how amazing you are, how long you’ve waited or how close you are to finalization. Foster care parents are given the next priority for adopting children, specifically those who have been in their care. This made sense to me simply because they already know those children and are attached to them. Matched adoption, adoption based on criteria of adoptive parents and children in foster care, is the last option CPS considers. Children who are open for matched adoption have already had birth parents’ rights terminated, have no kinship caregivers available, and no foster parents interested in adopting them.

2. Adoption is NOT the goal. — What?! Shocking, huh? Most people in the orientation room were seeking adoption, and now, they want us to keep this in mind. BUT, understanding the perspective is important. The ultimate goal of CPS is to reunite the children with the family. It is unfortunate the children had to be removed from their families in the first place, and the main focus of CPS is to help the children be reunited with their family. CPS puts measures in place for parents to meet, and their hope is that parents will step up, meet those expectations, and be able to care for their children in healthy ways going forward. Understanding this perspective helps both adoptive and foster parents because it gives light to where the children eventually placed with you have come from. Foster parents must make sure they don’t assume these children are in their home forever. CPS and the children view foster care as a temporary situation. Matched adoptive families must understand that their children’s birth parents did not step up to the plate, and there will probably be a serious sense of loss residing with those children.

3. Paperwork is the #1 factor stopping foster and adoptive families. This truly makes me sad. I know most people can’t stand paperwork, but to think that a stack of papers is the only thing stopping children being placed in loving home is heartbreaking. By paperwork, they mean potential adoptive and foster parents not ever starting the process due to the paperwork or that they don’t finish the paperwork – NOT that they are denied due to paperwork. I was encouraged, though, that Covenant Kids said they would do everything absolutely possible to help us complete the paperwork. First, they provide a very helpful checklist in the front of a three-ring binder with all the forms included. You simply take out the first form, complete it, and check it off the list, continuing in that manner until you complete all the paperwork. If that is too overwhelming, they will email you each form, one at a time, until the process is complete, OR they would even let you come to the office or meet you in your home, sit with you and help you fill out each one. While it might seem overwhelming, it was encouraging  to know that Covenant is committed to do whatever it takes to help their families tackle the paperwork.

On to pre-service training…

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