The first steps to becoming a foster parent and adopting from foster care may seem overwhelming. But let me help you break it down.
When you realize that your heart has been stirred and it is no longer okay to sit by and do nothing…
You MUST take action!
The Foster Care System and countless children who are waiting for a family is nothing short of a tragedy. For years, my husband and I talked about becoming Foster Parents and Adopting and when we finally made the decision to start the process, we were at a loss of how and where to start.
I have had quite a few questions on how did we become foster parents and start the adoptive process. While every state will look a little different, this is how we became took the first steps to becoming a Foster Parent and Adopting from Foster Care. Or as we called it… “Paper Pregnant.”
You can read our entire ADOPTION STORY HERE.
1. Consider Your Family
Every family is different. It is important that you do a self evaluation of your family life before bringing in a child who has no family or is coming from a horrible family situation. Your marriage should be stable. If you have biological children you need to consider them. Your children should be secure in your love. Make sure, above all, that you are all together with going forward with foster care and adoption. Too often, one family member gets pushed into opening up their home, and then they struggle with opening their hearts.
2. Join a Facebook Group for Foster/Adoptive Parents
There are so many support groups out there! Search Foster Care/Adoption with your state for groups on Facebook. There are also country expanding Facebook groups for all Foster Care/Adoption parents and groups that are specific for cultural or religion support as a Foster Parent/Adoptive Parent. These groups have been a HUGE blessing to me. They welcome any and all questions. They will answer your questions honestly from experience. I learned quite a bit just from reading the questions and even venting posts of others.
The Adoptive Mom Community is one of my favorites and most supportive communities on FB! Come Join Us!
The state specific groups are especially helpful for resources and information that is state specific in the Foster Care system.
3. Read Their Stories
Go to Adoptuskids.org and read the stories of the children waiting to find their forever family. Look at their faces. See the sibling groups who are desperate not to be split up. Read the honesty of the case worker who lists the special needs and struggles of the child as well as what makes them unique and desperate for a family. These are the children who you will be bringing into your home. They come from hard places. They have had trauma. They need love and stability.
You can also find your state specific adoption listing to see children available in your home state.
4. Contact the Department of Human Services
Again each state has it’s own name for the department which child welfare falls under. You can usually find a link from your state’s website. There you will be able to find a listing of agencies or departments where you will be able to begin your licensing process.
Many states have both private and government agencies to choose from. Talk with other foster parents in your area about the pros and cons of each agency in your area. (Facebook groups are the best for this)
5. Go to an Adoption Party
Our state regularly hosts adoption parties. Those who are interested in adoption can come to a neutral place (such as a museum or bowling alley) and meet and interact with children who are available for adoption. This is a no-pressure situation. You are able to talk with the kids and get to know them while engaging in an activity. If one of those children grab your hearts at the party you can speak with the adoption worker about getting to know that child even more and beginning the adoption process.
6. Go to a Foster Care & Adoption Orientation
The BEST thing that Jon and I did was go to an Orientation. It costs nothing but a little of your time to go to an Orientation class. It gave us a LOT of information! We found out what to expect during the licensing process. We learned what home and financial requirements were needed. And we also realized that some of our expectations and preconceived notions were way off. It was a good dose of reality. During and after orientation we were able to ask questions we had. We also signed up for our mandatory foster care and adoption classes that day and began signing the HUGE pile of paperwork we would need to complete.
Most orientations and classes repeat every month or every other month.
7. Realize the Facts
- The Licensing process takes an average 6 months. (this isn’t an overnight process)
- You will have people dig into your lives and ask a LOT of questions, come into your home, and pry into your background.
- The children you are welcoming into your home need a lot of love. They also may need therapy, extra attention, have behavioral problems, and may push you away. They have experienced a lot of trauma. And they are CHILDREN. (I know a lot of adults who don’t know how to handle trauma. These poor babies have no idea what to do to express their pain at times.)
- You may feel lonely during this process. Family and friends may not completely understand what you are going through or why you decided to go through it. Everyone gets excited at the birth of a baby, but bringing home a 6 year old… there may not be a baby shower or welcome party.
- It is the most difficult and amazing journey you will ever begin. I won’t lie. The process was a little intimidating and at times felt frustrating, but it was worth it! Oh, so worth it!
I hope that helps you as you begin the process of Foster Care and Adoption. You can do this! Those sweet children need you! Keep looking for the next step and the answers to your questions.
If you aren’t ready to adopt or foster, support someone who is on the journey!!!
They need your support and you will learn a lot from loving on them and the children they are opening their hearts to.
Happy Adoption Process!