Did you know there are approximately 7,000 children waiting to be adopted in Texas? They are just like you and me, longing to experience the love and acceptance of a tribe they can call their own. Many of those children are in foster homes, waiting for their forever family. If you feel led to adopt through foster care, here are seven things to know about the process:
- It can be inexpensive. Most people think adoption is expensive. And many times, it is. But adopting from foster care typically costs much less than other types of adoption. Depending upon the case, it can cost between $0 and $2,500. Why? Because foster-to-adopt services are contracted through the state, so most traditional adoption costs are eliminated. The adoptive family primarily pays for the costs of the paperwork and attorney.
- A child in foster care often waits three years to be adopted. Three years is the average length of time children spend in foster care awaiting adoption. More than half of these children have three or more placements in foster homes during this time. One third of the children have attended five or more elementary schools. Every time this happens, they become a little bit more behind. These children lose friendships, education, self-confidence and motivation.
- The median age is 8. When people generally think of adoption, they imagine adopting a newborn. When you adopt from foster care, the children range in age from toddlers to teenagers. The median age of children adopted from foster care is 8 years old.
- There is no “typical” case. There are many misconceptions about children in foster care. But the truth is that children in foster care are just like your children. Yes, they’ve been exposed to things that no child should have to experience, but they’re just as worthy of love as any other child. Some have brothers and sisters who desperately want to stay together. Some are diagnosed with special needs. Some have experienced more trauma than others. Every case is different. There is no “cookie cutter” method to foster care cases. Each child has his or her own individual circumstances.
- Adoption involves loss. Even though a child now has a forever family, they will still struggle with the trauma experienced before their adoption. Remember, children are in foster care because they’ve experienced abuse or neglect that resulted in removal from their biological parents’ home. “Families are formed in adoption because another family broke apart,” says Amy Curtis, director of counseling for Buckner Children and Family Services. “These children are facing loss in a way they have not experienced before.” Foster care provides a safe space for the children to work through those emotions and heal. Foster parents and foster-to-adopt parents receive training to understand the effects of trauma on children and how to best support the child.
- Adoption can be a long journey. There are times when it is quick and easy, but many other times it is a frustratingly long and hard process. You and the child will experience strong emotions as you help the child process their grief and loss associated with foster care and adoption. People will, often unknowingly, say insensitive things and ask seemingly crazy questions. But for those who have a calling to adopt from foster care, they know the joy is so much greater than the struggles.
- It’s worth it. You are investing in a child. You are literally changing the trajectory of their life and showing them that they are worthy of love, simply because they are a child of God. “God has called us for this mission and he provides us with everything we need with every turn we take,” says foster and adoptive mother Candace Barefoot. “While we may see the damage done to children by the people who were supposed to protect them, we also get to see God overcome and bring healing we never thought possible. Over time, we get to see laughter and bliss in their eyes instead of fear and distrust. We start to see an actual childhood start to form in children who were previously denied a childhood.”