February 18, 2019
The first goal in foster care is always to reunite the child with their biological parents in a safe and healthy environment.
When we begin working with families who want to foster a child, we assess their ability to support that goal. Adoption is never the primary objective, although sometimes the biological parents’ rights are terminated, and a child needs an adoptive home.
So, what would it mean for you if the child in your care became eligible for adoption? The following are some helpful next steps to consider.
Who decides if I can adopt?
When parental rights are terminated, the county that has guardianship over the child will determine whether you are eligible to adopt the child. Depending on the state you live in, you may be considered “next of kin” if the child has been in your care for six months or longer.
While we support and advocate for the foster family, we make decisions to meet the best interest of the child. Although there may be times that our views differ from the county, our responsibility is to support the case plan and the decisions the county worker makes. Even if a child has been in your care for the past six months and parental rights are terminated, the county has the right to consider other families to adopt the child.
Am I obligated to adopt the child?
If the county chooses to consider you as a potential adoptive family, we always advise families to make the decision based on what meets the child’s best interest. Even though a child has been in your home for a period of time, you are not obligated to proceed with adoption. If you feel like your family cannot commit to be this child’s permanent family, please say no. Families should feel confident about their decision to adopt and know they can meet the child’s long-term needs.
If you determine that you cannot be the child’s family, please be assured that your role is still important as a foster parent, and there are often families waiting for the opportunity to adopt a child in foster care. You have played an important role in the child’s life.
What if I want to adopt the child?
If your family is open to adoption, you’ll connect with your Bethany specialist and the child’s county workers to determine the next steps. Even though a child may have been in your home for a period of time, it is important to remember that adoption would be a new chapter in the child’s life, and also in yours.
Being a foster parent isn't easy, and you have taken on the role despite knowing that there will be hardships. We appreciate all that you do and consider it a blessing to assist you in your journey as foster or adoptive parents.
For children in foster care, their greatest desire is to have a permanent family of their own. If you’re willing to help a child in this way, you probably have more questions for us.