Why consider foster care adoption?

Children are placed in foster care after enduring abuse, neglect, parental drug use or other issues, and many have experienced countless layers of trauma, grief and loss in their lives.  

In the United States, more than 360,000 children are in foster care, more than 108,000 of whom are available for adoption.

Unfortunately, the myths, misperceptions and realities surrounding foster care adoption can give many prospective parents pause. Read 5 common myths

These children need our help so that they can grow up in a safe, loving and permanent family. In the words of our founder, Dave Thomas, “These children are not someone else’s responsibility. They are our responsibility.”

What types of adoption are available?

  • A child from the U.S. foster care system, which is the focus of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
  • An infant in the United States, often called private infant adoption
  • A child from another country, often called international adoption
  • A stepchild

What are the qualifications to adopt? Do adoptive parents have to be the same race or have the same ethnic background as the child they adopt? Do adoptive parents have to be married, or within a certain age range or income level?

If you adopt from foster care, the answer to all of the above is mostly “no,” although most states require you to be at least 21 years of age to adopt. Families are as diverse as the children who are available to be adopted.

What qualities are important for parents who adopt?

Traits like flexibility, patience, good problem-solving skills and a willingness to identify local community resources are all critical. Children don’t need perfect parents, just loving individuals willing to meet the unique challenges of parenting and make a lifetime commitment to caring for and nurturing them.

How much does adoption cost?

The cost of adoption depends on a number of factors, such as type of adoption, the agency through which you adopt, the state in which you live, attorney fees and whether or not travel is required. Foster care adoption, for example, typically costs $0 to $5,000 in nominal fees and home studies, while private infant or international adoption might cost $30,000 to $60,000 or more. Subsidies are often available for families who adopt from foster care. You can also talk to your employer about adoption benefits and consult your tax adviser about possible tax credits. For more information on support available, visit our Financial Resources for Adoptive Families webpage.

What is the adoption process?

The adoption process can vary depending on the type of adoption, the agency through which you adopt, the state in which you live and the state or county of residence of the child. Once you choose an adoption agency, the case worker will walk you through the process. In all cases, a home study and background check will be necessary. In addition, adoption preparation classes are required for foster care adoption.

What is a home study?

A home study is an in-depth application and interview process with a case worker that involves in-person interviews, reference checks, background checks and home visits. The study is not standardized and may vary from state-to-state and agency-to-agency. The average home study usually takes three to six months to complete.

How long does the adoption process take?

Many variables determine how long it will take to complete the adoption process, such as whether adoption preparation classes are required, the length of time to complete the home study and the length of time to identify a child for your family. On average, the adoption process can take one to two years.

However, once the adoption is approved by the court, the child is permanently a part of their new family. This means that adoptive parents have the same rights and responsibilities as parents with biological children. It also means children who are adopted have all the same emotional, social, legal and familial benefits of biological children.

Who are the children in foster care?

The U.S. foster care system includes children of every age, race, ethnic group and socio-economic category. The average age of a child in foster care is 8.5 years old. Additionally, children in foster care wait an average of at least 3 years to be adopted.

Through our Wendy’s Wonderful Kids® program, the Foundation is focused on finding adoptive homes for children who are most at-risk of aging out of foster care without a permanent family, including children age nine and older, siblings and children with special needs.

How do I find the right adoption agency for me?

In researching the best adoption agency for your family, consider the following:

  • Is the agency licensed by the state?
  • How many children does the agency place each year?
  • What resources will the agency use to search for a child for your family?
  • What criteria does the agency use to match children with families?
  • Can the agency provide references from parents who recently adopted?
  • What resources does the agency provide during and after the adoption process?

Download Finding Forever Families: A Step-by-Step Guide to Adoption to get started on your adoption journey.