Process of Adopting Your Foster Child
Deciding to adopt your foster child is an effective way to provide them with a more permanent family. The number of children who are waiting to go through the adoption process is well over 100,000. While foster children are often able to be adopted, there are several restrictions and guidelines that should be taken into account.
Can You Adopt Your Foster Child?
Adopting a foster child is allowed through the foster-to-adopt process. However, it’s not an option in every situation. Foster care is considered a temporary solution in the event that a child’s home isn’t currently stable or safe. When children are placed in the care of the state, the goal will be to eventually reunite them with their birth parents. As a foster parent, you agree to provide children with temporary care until reunification is possible.
While there are times when the birth parents of foster children will have already had their legal rights terminated, this isn’t true with every foster child. For some foster children, adoption is never an option. Before you first accepted a foster child, you may have been told if the goal is adoption or reunification. This information should help you determine if you’re able to adopt your foster child.
Why Fostering Is Often Considered Before Adopting
State governments are encouraging many parents who want to adopt to first become foster parents. There are numerous benefits of fostering a child before you adopt them, the primary of which is that you’ll be able to begin parenting sooner. Placement in foster care can occur in just a few days. In comparison, finalizing the adoption process may take upwards of six months or longer.
An important component of fostering is that foster parents are required to actively support the goal of reunifying children with their birth parents if that is the child’s current permanency plan. This plan is set by the court system. Even if reunification is the goal, “concurrent planning” may occur, which means that work will also be done to have an alternate permanency plan in place. This alternate plan usually involves adoption by foster parents if reunification isn’t successful.
When Can Foster Parents Adopt Foster Children
Even if a child’s biological parents have had their rights terminated, it’s not guaranteed that foster parents can adopt their foster child. In most situations, caseworkers first search for other biological relatives who may be able to adopt the child. If the caseworker is unable to find a relative who’s willing to provide the child with a safe home, foster parents are often given the opportunity to do so.
Some foster parents wonder if it is possible to fight relatives for the ability to adopt if the foster family has been together for months or years. In this scenario, each case differs. Call our New Jersey adoption lawyer today if you would like to speak about your case.
The process for adopting a foster child is similar to the process for all other types of adoption. Birth parents typically have around 6 to 12 months to finish their reunification plans. However, extensions are often given. Once parental rights have been terminated by the court system, this system will also evaluate who the best fit is to raise the child in question.
Since adoption is a more permanent scenario, social workers usually conduct post-placement visits to assess how the foster family is adjusting to the changes. Once every potential requirement has been met, a court date is set to finalize the adoption.
Potential Roadblocks During the Adoption Process
The path to adopting a foster child isn’t always straightforward and can be made more challenging if certain issues arise. For instance, a foster parent’s financial situation can play a role in identifying if they are capable of providing for the child’s essential needs on a long-term basis.
A person’s residence can also be taken into account. While adoptive parents can rent or own, a social worker may indicate that the living environment isn’t suitable for the child. Social workers are usually tasked with approving every aspect of the adoption. If the post-placement study mentioned earlier is negative, securing the adoption may be difficult.
If you’re currently thinking of adopting your foster child and providing them with a loving home, you will want to understand your legal rights. To learn more about what the process entails, call our New Jersey adoption lawyer today at (856) 429-5005 to schedule a consultation at our Haddonfield office.