Are you on the fence about foster care/adoption? Trying to decide whether to wade in or jump in, head first? Sometimes there are myths, misunderstandings and downright misinformation about adoption, and foster care adoption. Here are some things to keep in mind if you are deciding to adopt from foster care:
- It doesn’t cost anything to adopt from foster care
One of the biggest myths out there is that it costs a lot to adopt a child. Contrary to popular belief, foster care adoption costs virtually nothing! In many states, if you adopt from foster care, application fees, home study fees, pre-service training fees and attorney fees are waived. This differs from private or international adoptions, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The only costs you may incur in foster care/adoption are improvements to your home and property, first aid/CPR training, fingerprinting, adoption physicals and other minor costs. The elimination of the bulk of these costs frees the adoption applicant to focus on the care of the child, which is of utmost importance.
- Foster children who are free for adoption come from hard places.
The vast majority of people wanting to adopt a child do so out of good motives. Yet, many are ill prepared for the trauma that accompanies many of these children. Through no fault of their own, these children are in foster care because they have been abused, neglected or abandoned. Traumatized children cannot verbalize what they are feeling, their feelings come out in their behaviors. Some children may have physical disabilities due to being exposed to drugs or alcohol in utero. Because of these things, parents adopting from foster care must be willing to go the long haul with these kids, see things from their perspective and must be willing to help them heal from their trauma.
- In many states, counseling is available for adopted children
Trauma and foster care go together. Children who have been abused or neglected have experienced trauma need counseling while in foster care but also after adoption. The trauma doesn’t end once the adoption is finalized. If your child needs help, reach out to your local behavioral health clinic.
- There are tax benefits
Adoptive parents may be able to claim an adoptive child as a dependent on their taxes if: you have had state custody of a foster child and they have resided in your home for six months or more the previous year. You will need the child’s Full Name, Date of Birth and valid Social Security number.
Secondly, many adoptive parents qualify for the Adoption Tax Credit. Regardless if you adopt privately or adopt through the foster care system, this tax credit goes a long way in reducing your tax liability.
Consult your tax advisor.
- There are college scholarships for children adopted from foster care
One of the things that keep parents up at night is, “How am I going to pay for my child’s college education?” This should not be a concern for parents for adopting from the foster care system. In many states, children who have entered foster care as a teen can receive full-ride scholarships to participating universities. See an example from Arizona State University.
Native American foster youth may also have access to full college scholarships.
Whatever barriers you have about adopting from the foster care system, please view them as a hurdle, not as a wall. With help, foster care/adoption can be a very rewarding experience both for the parent as well as the child. Once you have a good perspective and understanding of the system, you can make a difference in the life of a child. Adopting from foster care is well worth it.
Derek Williams is an adoption social worker and has been in the field of child welfare and behavioral health since 2006, where he has assisted families in their adoption journey. He and his wife started their adoption journey in 1993 and have eight children, six of which are adopted. His adopted children are all different ethnicities including East Indian, Jamaican and Native American. He loves traveling with his family, especially to the East Coast and to the West Coast and is an avid NY Mets fan! Foster care and adoption are his passions and callings for Derek, and he is pleased to share his experiences with others who are like-minded.