What are foster to adoption, commonly referred to as fost-adopt programs? I had never heard of them. I didn’t even know that adopting through social services was an option. I’d always thought that social services took kids from people, not gave them to people. And why would I think that I, a single gay male, would be allowed to adopt from my own back yard?
I saw a television commercial one afternoon about “Wednesday’s Child,” a weekly segment highlighting a child who was up for adoption through a local social services agency. I decided to call the number to find out more information.
From the moment I called and began learning about the fost-adopt program to the day my first child made the transition into my home, only two months had past. And the cool thing was I was open about being gay from the beginning.
Some of the benefits of adopting through a Social Services agency include:
- The home study is free.
- Agency may be willing to reimburse families for certain expenses, especially for older children.
- Lots of support offered during the process.
- Post adoption support is becoming more and more abundant.
- Families may be eligible for an adoption subsidy which can continue after the adoption until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school.
- Infants ARE available for adoption, although often foster parents may have to wait longer for a placement and the risk is often higher for the child to return home to their biological parents.
Some of the challenges, concerns or risks of adoption through a fost adopt program include:
- Children have often been exposed to drugs which can affect their ability to learn and grow at a normal rate and can affect them their entire lives.
- There are a lot of people who will suddenly be part of your life, including the GAL, the CASA, your Resource Family Team Worker, the Caseworker, a Case Aide, and other possible community advocates.
- Dealing with trauma. Most children have endured significant trauma or have seen violence at a very young age. Dealing with abuse and neglect can require many years of therapy. Even if there is minimal documented evidence of trauma, just the fact that the child has lost his/her primary factor (their first parent/s) will be a very difficult loss to overcome and may require years of therapy.
- Dealing with the community, including teachers, coaches, and neighbors, can be very difficult. There seems to be a lack of understanding about adopted children or children who have been in foster care. Educating the community can be a full time job.
- The unknowns. It is difficult to get the full story from the primary parents. Social workers do the best they can to get as complete of a family history as possible, but there are usually many, many gaps. Medical histories are often incomplete, and a family never gives the full, complete story about what their children have been through in their home. They are fighting to keep their kids.
- Sometimes you may see your child’s biological parents at random. Talk about awkward times…
- The child may be returned home which will cause significant emotional hardship to you and your family.