Introduction to Foster Care Adoption


When you adopt, you will have to incorporate the child's birth family experiences and background -- and possibly former foster care situations -- into your family lore. You must honor the child's birth heritage and positive memories, and build upon them. If the past involved abuse or neglect, especially sexual abuse, you should receive special training to understand how those experiences can affect a child in later stages of development. If the child will have contact with birth or former foster family members, you should consider how visiting or corresponding will work within the context of your family.

If you adopt a child who has special needs -- either as a result of genetics, placement experiences or a combination of the two -- you will have to deal with these ongoing issues. Adoption subsidies can help with the financial aspects of raising children with special needs; you should also know what other resources will be accessible to you.

The central issue in changing from the role of foster parent to adoptive parent is that of redefining your attachment to the child as a full lifetime commitment. Are you ready, willing and able to see this child through to adulthood and afford him or her all of the opportunities -- and burdens -- that being a member of your family entails? Can you see this child as a part of your life long into the future? To do this, you and your agency social worker should examine the strengths and needs of your family, agency and community, and evaluate the impact of adding this particular child, with particular strengths and needs, to your family on a permanent basis. This is what making an informed adoption decision is all about. For more help, review our checklist of issues to consider when adopting a child currently in foster care.

Hopefully, your agency will walk you through the process of evaluating the strengths and needs of the child and your family to see whether permanent placement with you is in all of your best interests.

If you do adopt, become aware of the large adoptive parent and professional support network that exists. You definitely will not be alone. There are adoptive family support groups all over the U.S. that provide a forum for discussion, friendship and mutual assistance. Adoption conferences on the local, regional and national levels offer additional learning opportunities. Literature is available on many relevant topics to you.

More and more professionals and agencies are developing expertise in the area of postadoption services. All of this means that if you have an occasional rough period along the way, knowledgeable and empathetic people can help you through it.

Source: National Adoption Information Clearinghouse

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