Prospective adoptive parents should learn about the adoption process and safeguard against the obstacles that adoptive parents may face.
In order to ease the adoption process, parents should understand the difference between foster care and adoption. They should also learn about the adoption process and costs.
A common misconception for many is adoption and foster care are essentially the same. Yet, foster care and adoption have a number of differences. Foster care involves only temporary care of the child and does not grant full legal responsibility to the foster parents.
The legal responsibility for foster children is held by the foster care agency while with adoption this responsibility is transferred to the adoptive parents.
Similarly, financial responsibility belongs to the agency in foster care but remains with adoptive parents in adoption.
Also with foster care decision-making regarding the child lies in the hands of the agency and the birth mother. With adoption, the parents incur full decision making responsibility. A final larger difference is foster care is designed to help reunify the child with his/her parents while adoption focuses on incorporating the child into a new family.
If a foster parent decides to take on the adoption process, it will differ from the process of adopting a child with out being a foster parent. In either case, an application must be made to either a foster care or adoption agency and needs to be accepted by the agency. After the application is accepted, a social worker will be assigned to the family desiring adoption. The social worker will need to evaluate the family's home life in order to judge if the family is acceptable for adoption.
The process of home life evaluation is called a home study assignment. This may seem intrusive to the family but is necessary. The entire process will take several months and will require detailed questioning about family background, childhood and present circumstances of the parents. Children and other household members will be questioned as well as two personal references as supplied by the applicants.
In addition, a full medical examination of the adoptive parents will be required to asses the family's health history. Finally, the content of the home study report is disclosed to and agreed upon by the family and is then considered by an adoptive panel. The entire assessment and approval process should take about eight months. However, the average adoption process takes an average of two years.
The cost of adoption can be daunting to many, with prices ranging from $5,000 to $40,000. However, these costs depend on a number of factors such as whether or not the adoption is international, state requirements and whether or not the adoptive parents were fosters parents to the child. Small fees may be required upfront for some agencies, but parents should be wary if the entire cost is required to be paid immediately following application.
Learning as much as one can about the adoption process will help prepare new parents. Many resources are available online as well as at your local library.