Adopting a Foster Child
First of all, let us just first say thank you. Several children wait to be fostered or adopted, and changing their lives is an immeasurable step to the quality of that child’s life.
If you have fostered and are now considering adoption, you are not alone. While over 1,000 children in Washington are adopted into permanent, loving homes, several more await their chance to find a loving family to call their own. Children thrive in a permanent residence, which every parent can be proud of.
Items to Consider When Adopting
As a foster parent, you are aware of some concerns with integrating another family member into your family. Some immediate adoption concerns are whether or not a different ethnic background is essential to your family, navigating questions regarding biological parents as the child matures, handling past trauma issues due to abuse or neglect that may arise as the child enters an adult age, and more.
Don’t let these concerns deter you from choosing to expand your family. Multiple resources are available to help prepare you for what may arise after adopting your child. Check with your county or state to learn what training or classes may be available to you beyond what may be required.
Common Reasons to Adopt a Foster Child
In many cases, the foster child’s biological parents may have had their parental rights terminated. Now, the child will remain in the foster system or become an adopted child within a loving home. This situation prompts many foster parents to consider adoption.
The costs of other adoption options can quickly add up, whether it be a private adoption agency or other means of adoption; adopting through foster care is far less expensive and, in some cases, has no cost to prospective adoptive parents. Due to the financial obligations being more reasonable, this allows for more parents to choose adoption. Minimal costs may include the fees for a home study to be completed and legal and other expenses, which, in some cases, can be reimbursed or waived depending on the situation.
What is Needed to Adopt a Foster Child in the State of Washington?
Each parent wishing to adopt their foster child must first complete a successful home study, also referred to as a licensing process.
The standard first step in this process involves documentation. Paperwork commonly gathered is regarding potential parents’ physical and mental health, educational records, marriage records, employment records, background checks for everyone in the household, proof of income, and more. Gathering factual information ensures that the child is not placed in a home that isn’t in the child’s best interest. In most cases, this portion of the process takes the longest, as most have to dig through past records or update records to fulfill this portion.
The assigned home study professional will likely conduct interviews with each immediate family member. You can plan for questions regarding your wishes and reasons for adoption, how you plan to integrate the new family member into your family, what the day-to-day life looks like in your home and family dynamic, and more.
The next step typically involves a home inspection. This step commonly includes reviewing things like if a pool is properly secured if there are safety issues within the home or the yard if any modifications are necessary to accommodate the new family member, and more.
Training may also be required as part of this process. Training includes helping families develop best practices to navigate separation issues from the adopted child’s biological family, handling potential trauma, neglect, or abuse the child may have faced in the past, and more.
Once all aspects of the home study are complete, the facilitator will prepare a report including their recommendations and supporting evidence of their findings. The potential family will have the chance to review this report to amend any errors or request changes be made.
What is a Home Study Update?
It is important to note that a home study may need to be updated after the adoption has taken place. This update may be required if significant life changes are happening within the household, such as divorce, a new person moving into the home, a substantial change in the caregiver’s health has occurred, and more. This update ensures that throughout the life of the child, their best interests are top of mind.
Home study updates may include interviews with at least one family member to discuss any concerns. Interviews may also be conducted with other minor children living in the home to investigate any issues that may threaten the child’s safety.
A home study updates provide reassurance that the child is in good hands, being adequately cared for, and having a productive and healthy living environment for years to come.
How Can a Family Law Attorney Help Me With Adoption?
Experienced family law attorneys can assist with the adoption process in many ways, namely, through assisting with the final legal process of adoption.
Family law attorneys may also be called upon to assist with the process of terminating the parent’s rights to the child to secure the chance to adopt the child.
Hiring the right attorney can make all the difference in ensuring the process of expanding your family goes well. Our honest and compassionate attorneys can help guide you through the process, calm and address your concerns, and help ensure that you are doing everything possible to make this transition a happy and healthy one for all involved.
Contact our office at (360) 926-9112 to learn how we can best assist you and your expanding family.