Going from raising a child in foster care to adopting is easier than you might think. A family can get things moving with the help of the Child Protective Services caseworker, the ad litem attorney assigned to protect the child, and the judge. All these parties are working toward the best possible placement for the child. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, if no biological family is seeking to adopt and the foster family is current with all the state requirements, the adoption will go off without a hitch. It can take time for the birth parents’ rights to be terminated, but there will be times when they willingly sign away rights, which can expedite the process.
When a child is removed from the home, the proverbial clock starts ticking and the CPS worker begins putting together a permanency plan. During this time, the biological parents are given the opportunity to correct the issues that sparked the removal. They have the ability to file a six-month extension that can be tacked onto the end of the original 12 months. If the caseworker determines that the child cannot safely be returned to the biological parents within that 12-to-18-month time frame, then other biological family members are given the opportunity to adopt. If no one expresses interest, then the foster family is first in line for the chance to bring that child into their home permanently.
In a typical adoption, CPS would have to do a home study to ensure the environment being considered is suitable for the child. However, if the home has already been approved for foster care, then this is not necessary. The caseworker provides guidance and will more likely than not arrange all the paperwork so the transition is as smooth as possible for the child. When it has been determined that the foster home is the best placement for the child, CPS then makes a recommendation to the judge. Once the recommendation goes up, the process can proceed.
If a home has already been approved for foster care, no biological relatives express a desire to adopt, and CPS makes a positive recommendation, the foster family can be certain of a successful adoption. Another member of the decision-making process will be the child’s ad litem attorney. This is a special counselor exclusively appointed to represent the child. The attorney will handle the paperwork from a legal standpoint while the CPS worker handles things from a social standpoint.
This whole journey begins by expressing to the caseworker a desire to adopt. After that, the foster family just waits for the state to terminate the birth parents’ rights. Once that’s finished, the only thing left is a waiting game on the paperwork.
Visit Adoption.com to learn more about adopting from foster care.
Blake Johnson is a 29-year-old adoptee living in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. His journey through the various struggles associated with adoption give him a unique perspective that he hopes can be a small measure of help to anyone traveling the same path.