5 reasons you won’t adopt from foster care, and why they’re wrong
November 29, 2012
“It’s too expensive.”
“Children in foster care are too set in their ways to blend in with my family.”
“I’m not married, so I can’t adopt, right?”
“I don’t want to deal with the birth parents in my face about their child or deal with the child welfare system – it’s all just too complicated!”
We hear these and similar comments all the time. It’s good to consider all of the challenges and needs potential parents could face when creating or expanding a family through adoption – from financial implications to household dynamics. But opting out of the process based on myths or misperceptions about the children or the systems involved is simply a disservice to the 104,000 children waiting to be adopted.
So let’s address some of the myths:
1. It is too expensive to adopt. In reality, adoption from foster care is not expensive, typically averaging $0 to $1,500, and financial support is available to families who adopt from foster care. Subsidies follow most of the children in foster care until they are 18 years old, and many employers provide adoption benefits. Federal and state tax credits are available, and assistance for college expenses of older youth is increasingly available.
2. Children in foster care are juvenile delinquents. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children enter the foster care system through no fault of their own, usually as a result of abuse, neglect and/or abandonment. More than half of the children waiting in foster care for adoptive homes are 8 or older, 30 percent are 12 or older. Unfortunately, each year, nearly 30,000 of the children waiting to be adopted turn 18 and leave the system without families. These are the children who may fall back in to another state system without the support needed to grow and thrive. These children deserve our best efforts to find them the families we promised when they were permanently separated from their families of birth.
3. The biological parents can try to have the children returned. Once a child has been made legally free for adoption, birth parents cannot claim a child or petition for their return. Foster care adoption is permanent. The adoptive parents may decide to maintain contact with the child’s extended biological family based on what is best for the child, but that is a choice of the adoptive family.
4. Single individuals cannot adopt. Unmarried individuals are legally able to adopt in all 50 states. Nearly 30 percent of the children adopted from foster care last year were adopted by single parents.
5. Dealing with the child welfare system is too burdensome. Any system, from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to health care providers, can be frustrating and complex. And yes, sometimes working with the state or county child welfare system can seem as though it is fraught with rules, processes and sometimes unresponsiveness. It is a complex system, but the professionals involved are as committed as you are to finding homes for children and want to walk you through the process every step of the way. You can also call us at 800-ASK-DTFA when you need help, or order our Finding Forever Families: A Step-by-Step Guide to Adoption free of charge.
Remember Dave Thomas’ wise words: “These children are not someone else’s responsibility; they are our responsibility.” When children in foster care are permanently removed from their families of birth, we make what should be an unbreakable promise to them: we will find a family. And we will do it in a way that cherishes their childhood and their developmental needs so that they can grow and thrive within the birthright of every child – a safe and secure family of his or her own.
Take a moment to remember a time when, as a child, you were alone, or afraid, or distraught because one of your favorite comfort items – a stuffed animal, a blanket, a toy – was missing. Children in foster care waiting to be adopted feel that loss in a much more profound way. Each and every day.
Contemplating the challenges of foster care adoption is made a bit easier with the right information, a network of support, and knowing that our staff at the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption stands ready to help in any way we can.
I'm 17 years old and When I was in foster care I was always afraid that if I go to someone other then family they would put me out as soon as I turn 18 or that nobody would want me or my sister who is 15. I thought they would not want us because we both aren't the healthiest children I have neurological issues which makes me learn a little different my little sister has a circulation issue in her legs, something wrong with her blood and a heart murmur we are back with our mother now but i can't help but wonder would things be different if we weren't......my question is who would adopt us with all these issues? and When we are considered grown will they abandon us?
I have two adopted children and over 30 foster kids. The system does not help adopting parents like they do for foster care. There is no incentive to adopt foster kids that are older and teens. They lose so may benefits that you don't know until it is too late. If you check the college applications then you won't believe what the social workers tell you. I am thankful for my kids but the system is backwards and should help the kids and families that help make them permanent.
I WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM WITHOUT THEM I WOULD HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO ADOPT 2 SIBLINGS TODAY . THEY ARE MY JOY I AM A SINGLE MOTHER AGAIN. MY AGE IS 51 AND THE GIRLS ARE 4 AND 6. I HAVE WAITED A YEAR TO HAVE THEM IN MY HOME .THEY WERE FOSTER CHILDREN BUT ALSO MY EX GRANDCHILDREN WHOM I FELL IN LOVE WITH RIGHT AWAY.I DID NOT THINK IT WAS A HARD PROCESS TO HAVE THEM ADOPTED
My name is mrs jennifer am from united kingdom i married for 25 years but no child to call my own my mother in-law was calling me all kinds of name i prayed for God to give me a child i did every thing i could do visit many doctors to no what is wrong with my body system but the doctor said nothing is wrong with me then i said to my self what is wrong,a friend of my said to me that i should adopt a child at the first time i never want to do that but things was not easy with me i cook and eat alone no child to eat with me i was living in the dark,so one day i make up my mind and i said to my self i want to adopt a child i discuss it with my husband and he refuse that at the first place after few months my husband called me and he said he needs a child and he is nothing getting any younger,that was how we visit CHRIST ADOPTION CENTER to adopt a child we love her and her name is KELLY,he is a very lovely kid and brilliant too,you can contact this agency at CHRISTADOPTIONCENTER@GMAIL.COM
I have adopted my son who's now 14 months from foster care it was absolutely free. He's perfect and loved. We are also int he process of adopting a 10 month old baby girl. It's not as complicated as people think and it is completely worth the effort
Someone needs to contact Habersham County in Georgia about these issues. We waited for five years for a single placement before giving up. Our county is unwilling to work with any other county to move kids, let alone another state. These kids do not have families...I don't think they CARE about moving to another county or state if it means finding their forever family. So incredibly frustrating.
We are finalizing our adoption of 2 little ones- a 1 and a 2 yr old. We had our 2 year old since he was 5 weeks and got his sister at 3 months old. The day we signed our last papers, I couldn't rejoice. We are low income, already have 3 kids, only one under 18, though. We never thought we'd adopt, especially not babies. He was only going to be here for a few weeks.... We love them both like crazy, but once the adoption is final all help will be gone, as they don't qualify. I hate feeling sad about what should be a celebration, but I do and the idea that they'll grow up never getting new clothes, or going on vacation is killing me. WE never started fostering for money, but without the monthly help we couldn't do it- kids are expensive!! Now I'm wondering what I'll need to get welfare and I feel like the government has messed us up by giving us kids we couldn't afford to adopt. We've already stopped our daughter's singing class, because we can't continue it. I'm not here to whine- and I'd lay my life down for these kids, but part of me wishes they had been placed with some young couple that could afford them. Workers need more training on what families and children need to be placed together. We are their parents, and they have become our kids. We will love them, play with them, teach them, and work hard to give them their needs, but I sure wish it didn't scare me to death that we'll wind up in the welfare line thanks to adoptions..... Why aren't workers placing little babies with parents that can afford to raise them?
In my opinion, i think it is wrong for people in this country to adopt children from foreign countries when we have thousands of children in the USA that need homes. Let's take care of our own first.
My family recently welcomed two little boys under age 5 into our family. They have been in the system almost 2 years, they lived with a family for 14months before coming to us a little over a week ago. Before that family they were with a paternal grandma for a few months. They have different fathers and the oldest boys fathers rights has been terminated for a while. The younger boys fathers rights will be terminated soon ( he's in jail). The mom has been given chance after chance and continues to mess up. The state worker is 100% pro reunification and is all about the parents. He doesn't know/care when enough is enough for the kids sake. The judge did set a termination hearing for August for the mother. Although I would never want to take someone's children that is really trying to live right I pray the judge makes the right decision so that the boys can have a permanent stable home. The system could use major improvement!
I am a foster teen i have not been adopted becuse of sites like you I get strat A's in school never broke a rule lost my mum and dad and have been in 19 homes i sat hoping for a family asked my caseworker if one called too bring me home i never got the call im now less then 2 months from 18 and am not adopted ive been waiting since the age of six years old why did you ruin me?
so when you foster and they dont come him or she on the day she was expected to be picked up its legal to him or her yours forever?
I wanted to adopt since I was a small child. My husband and I, after years of medical intervention, did finally have a child. When she was 5 we adopted a 2 and a half year old girl from her 5th foster home. The process of adopting from county adoptions was not expensive and took less than a year to complete the classes and home study. What I do wish we had been more prepared for were the special issues of adopting an older child with attachment disorder and developmental delays - we were aware of the DD but not the emotional issues. It took years to work our way through those emotional issues. It has been worth it! Our adopted daughter knows we are her family. She knows she was adopted. She knows what we know about her birth parents. They are not in contact. Our daughter is ok with that. She is now a senior in high school and is a wonderful, kind, empathetic young woman. If I could change one thing about our experience it would be to educate adoptive parents of foster children about attachment issues and share resources with them. Otherwise, go for it. So many children need the love and stability of a real home. If you are able, please look into it and give them, and yourselves, the chance to make a difference.
Info from the Dave Thomas Foundation was helpful as I decided to adopt for the first time in 2000. I now have two sons, one of whom is an adult. I noticed new information, especially the part about the option to for ongoing contact with family of origin. The connections with extended family has been important. As I read through comments, I can relate to the desire to parent. I also believe that youth in foster care deserve adoptive parents who are likely to be active and up for parenting through adulthood. Adoption affects familes for generations. Post-adoption services are important. I recommend asking what services are available.
I would suggest getting licensed through the county you're living in, not a private agency. The agencies only get the kids that the county can't place with their own foster families.
My husband and I are currently attending a parenting class so we will be eligible to Adopt a child or children through the foster system. I'm so excited to be a mommy and a family to a child in need. Adopting through the foster system is less costly when most adoption agency cost 20,000-30,000 while adopting through the foster system doesn't even come close to that high cost. These children are in need of loving parents and safe homes. If you considering adoption I high recommend talking to your local social services to be directed on how to adopt through he foster system or get in contact with the right foster adoption agency.
We decided to adopt after my husband got back from deployment but then we found out he has cancer so now we cant adopt :(
My husband and I started the process almost three years ago. We are very frustrated with the foster care system. I just turned 42 and James is 52. We've been together 25 years no children together though. We have a completed and approved home study and we are having the most difficult time getting matched. I can see if we we turning children away but we are not. We are very open to any gender, nationality, and age range from infant to 12 years old. And, with as many children in the system as everyone keeps saying, we still can't seem to be matched. Definatly something wrong!!!!!
I hope that the system gets easier. A close friend has fostered 2 young children for 2 years and hopes to adopt - ages <1yr & 3yrs. They are the only true parents these children have ever known. The court system just keeps giving the birth parents (the father tried to kill one of the children- court documented) another chance even though the birth parents never visit, rarely call, live transiently, don't come to court, and are not able to hold down jobs. This is why the foster system is frustrating!
Hi @yourstruly123. I hesitate to post this because I know a stranger posting on the internet may not mean much. I can't answer your question exactly but I can tell you how I feel - I am currently in the process of getting approved to be a foster parent. Without knowing you or your sister or your situation at all, I feel pretty confident saying just this: someone like me would adopt someone like you. I don't want only "healthy" children or a healthy family because to be honest, there is no such thing. I have my own health issues, and so does everyone else in my family. Some more severe than others, some are physical, some are neurological, and yours may be different but they all exist. I'm watching my family age and change and so often it seems to change only in areas of loss - people get older, people move away, families argue and split up... but I realized it could also change for better, and by adding people. I have extra rooms and I hope I would have something to give to someone like you and at the same time, I believe someone like you has something that I value as well - I think friendship, family, and love don't depend on perfect health and are even more needed. So what my overly long answer isn't saying very clearly is that yes, I do believe those people exist. Though I'm glad your mom is doing better.
@melinda647 You need to contact your Ombudsomen's office. They are the only ones who can help
@TU42Mom What? I find it very hard to believe this post is even real. If it is legit, I know you get a subsidy for each one of those kids. They verify your family income is sufficient before they even place those kids with you. The subsidy is on top of that. Again, I do not believe this post is real. Who talks like that as they are adopting babies? And why are you adopting children you can't afford? PS What does Homeschooling have to do with anything? I home schooled my 4 kids...that has nothing to do with the three I adopted. What is your game?
@TU42Mom After termination of parental rights, the foster parents get asked first if they want to adopt. If you would have said no, they would have transitioned the kids to another family to be be adopted by. The decision to adopt and all the entails is something you should have thought through before you signed the papers. You say WILL BE gone. My advice to you is talk to your worker now before it is to late. Many states also have the option to give subsidized adoptions for sibling groups and children who are medically complex. You have to push for it. In CT foster/adoptive parents also receive help from CAFAP (Connecticut Association of Foster and Adoptive Parents) and Florida has QPI (Quality Parenting Initiative). I hope you have something similar in your state as a third party to DCF to help foster and adoptive parents deal with the system that you can talk to. If not, inbox me and I will try to give as much advice as I possibly can so things can go smoothly for your entire family.
@TU42Mom Probably because people who are willing to really care for these kids are not as numerous as you might think. Children can grow up without all the "things", but the love of a family is crucial. As someone who doesn't know you, I would like to say something to you that could be important down the road. We're strangers, so maybe you won't be hurt or angered by it. Tell those kids you love them everyday, and don't despair (at least not where they can know about it) about singing lessons or new clothes. Being poor can make things harder, but so can being rich. What the kids need is a stable home with a family that really loves them. If you really love them and they have the basics, (we shop at Savers and don't go on vacations either) they will be fine. And the welfare thing...really, if you have to, do it. Hate every minute of it and get off it when you can but your accepting money from the state to care for the kids before they were adopted--that's state money too, so really, what's the difference? Do what you have to care for the kids. I'm one of those people who thinks way too many folks are on welfare, and not all of them really need it. You however, would be the exception. You should feel no shame for accepting help. Remind those kids everyday how much you love them and how they are worth every sacrifice you ever have to make because they are precious and that you love them more than life. You are a hero. Plenty of rich people who can give their kids "everything", are not heroes. Hold your head up.
@TU42Mom ~WOW really?? You should feel blessed! Why did you go ahead with the adoption? My husband and I have been waiting for 1.5 years to adopt through foster care. We are unable to have our own. So please be thankful even if you do go on welfare because I would do anything to have what you have!
@g73man Hi, I think there may be some issues that you are unaware of. It is a wonderful thing to see American children be adopted, but you must understand that children adopted from foreign countries are often saved from actually dying. And I am not exaggerating. My daughter, adopted from China when she was five, would not have been given the heart surgery we were able to give her to save her life. My son, adopted at age 10 from China, has a missing foot and deformed fingers. The life he would have had in China would have been extremely marginalized. No college, no family (cultural reasons for this, along with a shortage of females). Menial work or begging for a living. Many children rescued (and that is the correct word) from Eastern European orphanages would have been forced into prostitution/trafficking when they age out of the orphanage. The argument between adopting American or foreign children is a false one. It is not an either/or proposition. They all need help, love, families. Please don't criticize those of us who choose to save the lives of children, just because they don't live here. And please, please, consider adopting from foster care yourself, as you seem to be aware of the need. American kids need homes too.
@mybabies4 Hi there!! We are in the same situation right now being that we have two little girls that we have had in our care for over 1 1/2 years. They are setting the trial for termination this thursday but I was wondering how your case turned out? I can't imagine losing these girls but I know that h&w are completely for reunification.. I would love to hear the ending of your story and I hope it turned out to be a positive experience for you!
@fosterchildwronged I am so sorry that you have experienced this. If you can contact us we can work with our Michigan contacts and see if we can help - 800-ASK-DTFA or firstname.lastname@example.org
@fosterchildwronged Sweetheart, why do you think this site hurt you? This site is in FAVOR of adopting foster children! It addresses the reasons some people think they shouldn't adopt foster kids and tells them why they are wrong. My daughter was in foster care from the age of 3 months to 2 1/2 years old when we adopted her. I never regret our decision and I love her so much and care for her. She is now 19 and getting ready to start college. You need to ask for some help from the foster care system for when you turn 18: is there some kind of group home you can live in and find support? You need to have some one providing you with help to get you started outside the foster care system. I wish I could be more helpful. See what you can find out and I'll do the same. What state are you in?
Hello!, we have a 5 year old girl and we would love to adopt a girl mainly about 2 or 3 years old as well, can you help us and give us some info of the good foster homes around the area. We leave in Houston, TX. Thanks and God bless you!.
@vmartin65 I don't mean for this to sound sarcastic but what kind of emotional issues would a 2 yr old have? Or do you mean abandonment issues that arose later?
@Radbrad That's not necessarily the case. I have been trying to adopt through the foster care system and was told "off the record" by my caseworker to go to a private agency because they get first choice of the children and DHS get the hard to place children. I guess it depends on the the state you live in. I live in Michigan. I've also come across the problem of them not wanting to place minority children in my home. We could care less about race, we are white. I just don't get it!! I'm very frustrated with the entire system and am ready to find an adoption agency to adopt even though it is expensive.
@SeabeeWife410 SeabeeWife410. Keep up hope! My husband had "6 months to live" when we married at the Bethesda Naval Med Cntr chapel on 1 week's notice due to cancer that had recurred after 2 years of treatment. That was nearly 40 years ago!!! We are proud parents of 4 wonderful adopted children now grown and doing really well, and 5 fantastic little grandkids!
@SeabeeWife410 I'm so sorry to hear your husband has cancer, I'm sure that is a terrible thing to have to go through. I suggest giving it up to God and allowing him to be in control.
@Joygirl I'm there with you! My husband and I have completed our process also and still waiting. We are both 49 and have a grown biological daughter. There is definately something wrong with the system for it to take so long when there are so many children that needs help!! We want to help but we keep getting hung out there.
My husband and I are in the same boat. We just got re-licensed for the 2nd time and still haven't been matched. We were suppose to get a 10 year old foster child but that didn't go through because the social worker didn't have our number at the time of placement and she placed her
with another family that wasn't even licensed. (we have been called on this child 3 different times saying we were going to get her.) The system is really messed up! My husband and I have been married for 16 years and can not have our own children, we have decided not to do invitro but instead do foster/adoption and here we are still waiting! :(
@Joygirl Hey Joy I'm not sure what state you are trying to adopt through the foster system if your going through a agency you may want to directly contact social services. I know in Delaware we have a thing called DFS you may want to contact some one higher up or directly through the state.
@livefyreacct It is very frustrating! We went through the same thing - twice! But, there are laws within each county/state that the social workers and courts have to follow. If any of the parent's rights are violated, that could be detrimental to the kids being removed from their custody. It's a painstaking process, but until the laws of the state get changed to protect the children more, there is not much anyone can do but let the biological parents hang themselves. In each of our cases, it was just a matter of allowing them the legal amount of time to do it. And they did. I hope your friend has a good outcome!
Thanks- guess yesterday was a down day for me emotionally. I have been so very blessed, and my husband has always worked hard for us to have our needs met (I worked since my 16th birthday until our youngest bio was born, and we saw my back was getting much worse). We aren't heroes, just parents. I grew up poor and thought I'd never be on the receiving end again. Still praying it won't come to that, but if it comes to the NEEDS of our kids, I'd do anything..... now to go sign our 9 yr old up for public school- homeschooling for her is not cheap. We had a huge talk and she said she'd much rather have her baby siblings than anything else.... just wish the choices were because we wanted to make them, not because things are about to get tougher. :(
We celebrate all families who step forward and adopt a child in need, regardless of the borders that define the child's birth home.
Im in MI and i have a dislike for the facked that I will only get a assiciot dagree while adoped kids get a real home im left in the dusk for good
@jasmar2447mj @vmartin65 We adopted in San Diego and just went through San Diego County Adoptions. I would think you have county adoptions in Houston. If it works similar to San Diego you have to apply for foster care first and then you can be on the adoption list. Involves home study and lots of paperwork but didn't take us much more than 6 months to find our 2 year old who had been in foster care since she was a few months old. One year after bringing her home we legally adopted her. I don't know about good foster homes in your area. Contact your county adoption service and good luck!
@deeh131 @vmartin65 Our little foster child (a little girl) Has serious anxiety and emotional attachment issues and she just turned 3 in July. She chews on her fingers to the point that they bleed. She wakes up in the middle of the night with night terrors and oh the tantrums!! She is such an amazing little soul but if I leave out of her sight when we are somewhere not familiar she will literally have a panic attack. It is a very hard thing to see and we are working on it every day but we are far from being done. We love this little girl so much but unless you actually care for a child from foster care you can't truly understand what most of them have been through.. Our two little girls have seen more in their 3 and 4 years of life than our two boys will probably ever see in their lives.. :(
@deeh131 @vmartin65 Yes, the attachment disorder was a condition I had never heard about until our daughter was a teenager. It affects most adopted children even when adopted as infants (not as likely, though). Also I believe our daughter had PTSD-like symptoms due to the first two years of her life prior to adoption, all the changes in foster placement and the neglect and abandonment by her birth mother. There have also been emotional issues which stem from her learning differences and need for special education placement.
No, parents like you ARE heroes. And YOU grew up poor. Look how you turned out! (A hero...) I pray God will bless you with everything you need for these kids...however he brings it. And that you will have peace in your heart about your family no matter what comes.
@rsoronen Thank you. I feel the same.