I love getting questions from readers, ya'll, so please feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org!
I usually respond directly to people, but I figure a lot of you may have the same questions so I will try to share some answers on here as well.
Adopting from the U.S. Foster Care System. I've been getting a lot of questions about this. Here are a couple of things you need to know:
1. It's free! Did you know that? Most people don't. If you use a private agency, which we did, it will probably cost you about $1000. But you can also go directly through the county and it will be completely free. Plus, the state sends you a check every month to help with your expenses. When you finalize the adoption, that amount usually decreases, but you still get a monthly stipend until your child turns 18. These are not reasons to adopt, but it can be very helpful to know the financial implications when you are trying to navigate all of the adoption options out there.
2. People always want to know if there is any guarantee of permanency during the foster-to-adopt process. This was our biggest fear when we went down this road and it think it is for many families. Really and truly, there is no guarantee of permanency until the adoption is finalized. BUT...in a foster-to-adopt scenario, the child's case plan is adoption. Our social worker has NEVER had a child placed in a fost-adopt home who was then removed to go back with birthparents. It can happen, but it is very rare.
California usually does not terminate birth parents' rights until a child is placed in a fost-adopt home. But soon after placement, rights should be terminated. At that point, birth parents have 3 or 4 months, I believe, to appeal that decision. Parental rights are usually not restored, but the process of appeals can take time. You have to foster for at least 6 months before you can sign adoptive placement paperwork, and at that point, you are put on a waiting list for a court date to finalize the adoption. That wait can take a few months. We had J-Man for about a year before we could finalize his adoption. During that year, the fear was always in the back of our minds that he may not stay with us. I think that fear is there for most families. You know it's pretty much for sure that he will be a permanent member of your family, but again, there are no guarantees until that finalization day.
That's why finalization day is such a big deal for families!
I hope that's helpful to someone. If you have adopted through foster care, please feel free to leave your helpful insights in the comments section. And, again, keep those questions coming!