Adoption from Foster Care
Adoption from Foster Care
Across the United States, there are currently over 122,000 children and youth waiting for permanency with a loving, nurturing family. Perhaps you are the mom or dad they have been waiting for!
Adoption from foster care may be the right option for you. Click below to learn more.
The majority of children and youth in the foster care system have suffered physical or emotional neglect or abuse and needed to be brought into care through no fault of their own. The foster care system exists to provide a temporary, stable, and home-like environment for these children who must be separated from their parents for their own safety and well-being. Foster care is intended to be a short-term solution; the goal for children in care is permanency – a permanent placement through reunification, kinship care, or adoption. If parental reunification is not possible, most children become available for adoption
NCFA advocates for permanency for every child in foster care, whether that permanency is achieved through reunification or adoption. We give special attention to finding families for the over 122,000 children currently eligible and waiting to be adopted.
NCFA’s recommendations for foster care reform focus on studying and reassessing existing child welfare policies and practices in order to establish clear priorities and allocate resources to allow more children and youth in care to find permanency in a timely manner. NCFA prioritizes the crucial but often neglected strategy of parent recruitment and training, as well as the important post-adoption services that allow families to succeed and thrive. We believe that placing a child in an adoptive family is not the end of the process; support and services must be available for as long as needed for the sake of the child and his or her parents. At the heart of all our policy recommendations for foster care is the belief that every child deserves a safe, nurturing, permanent home – whether that is through reunification, kinship care, or adoption.
A full archive of Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System Reports is available through the Children’s Bureau.
Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System Report (period October 1, 2018 - September 30, 2019)
- Number of children in U.S. foster care as of September 30, 2019: 423,997
- Number of youth who emancipated from foster care (a.k.a. “aged out”) without permanent family connections: 20,445.
- Number of children adopted from foster care during this reporting period 66,035:
- Number of children still waiting to be adopted: 122,216
- 52% percent of children adopted from foster care were adopted by their foster parent(s)
- Average age of a child adopted from foster care: 6 years, 5 months old
- Average length of stay for a child in foster care: 19.6 months
- Average length of wait for adoption after parental rights were terminated: 11.8 months
- 35 states had an increase in the number of adoptions from the previous year with Connecticut, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, and New Hampshire reporting over 25% increase in the number of children placed compared to the year prior. It should be noted that this is the second year in a row that Kansas and New Hampshire have led the way in increasing the number of adoptions from foster care.
Foster/resource families provide essential care and support to youth that have experienced abuse and/or neglect and have been separated from their families. Children and youth in care often require specialized care in addition to a stable home environment. Child welfare systems are always in need of qualified foster parents to help care for children and youth in care. Both married and single adults can apply to become licensed foster/resource parents. Foster parents are required to complete a homestudy and attend training classes in order to be approved to care for children. This process varies from state to state, and usually takes several months to complete, depending on each state’s requirements. Once parents are approved, children can be placed in their care until the children are reunified with biological family, adopted, or moved to another placement.
Adoption from Foster Care
Those interested in adopting a child from foster care have several different options: some adopt an unrelated child available for adoption; some foster-to-adopt; some adopt a relative through foster care. Not every foster parent chooses to adopt, but foster parents are responsible for over half ofof adoptions from foster care annually.
Adoption from foster care is not an expensive process. The majority of families that adopt through foster care (93%) will receive some kind of adoption subsidy to help provide for the child. Families adopting from foster care are also eligible for the one-time adoption tax credit.* Finally, because state agencies generally facilitate adoptions through foster care, the legal process can be completed at no or little cost.
In order to adopt from foster care, parents must complete a homestudy and background check; in many cases they must also fulfill all state requirements for foster parents. A child will then be placed in their home with the intent that she or he will be adopted. The time it takes to legally finalize an adoption varies based on each child’s unique needs and experiences, as well as state law.
The finalization of an adoption is only one step on the path to permanency. It is essential that the adoptive family receive any and all necessary, ongoing support so the child can thrive in the new family. Support services might include individual and family counseling, respite care, support groups, or other services based on the unique needs of each family.
* For more information about the ATC and how to claim it, click here.
Find an Agency: If you're interested in fostering, adopting, or volunteering, NCFA's search tool will help you find an agency in your area.
AdoptUSKids: A program of the U.S. Children’s Bureau to raise public awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families, and to assist states, territories, and tribes in recruiting and retaining families to adopt or foster children.
CASA National: Learn about becoming a Court-Appointed Special Advocate or Guardian Ad Litem in your state.
Think Of Us: Babineaux Award winner Sixto Cancel's online web and mobile platform that supports youth during the transition into adulthood
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption: The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption believes that every child deserves to live in a safe, loving, and permanent family, and that every child is adoptable. The Dave Thomas Foundation provides resources to educate the public on foster care and brings systemic change through Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, a highly successful child-focused parent recruitment model for children and youth in foster care. Youth served by this program are up to three times more likely to be adopted.
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s Foster Youth Internship Program: Offers young adults who spent time in foster care the opportunity to complete a congressional internship and share their experiences and opinions on how to improve the foster care system.
NCFA’s monthly policy publication, the Adoption Advocate, covers a wide range of topics in adoption and foster care. Recent Adoption Advocate articles focusing on issues in foster care include:
- No. 95: Adoption Agencies Serving Children in Foster Care
- No. 83: The Human, Social, and Economic Cost of Aging Out of Foster Care
- No. 77: The Joys and Challenges of Parenting Older Adopted Children
- No. 71: The Importance of Maintaining Sibling Connections in Foster Care
- No. 59: Paths to Permanence: Kin Guardianship and Adoption
- No. 51: The Unique Educational Challenges Facing Youth in Foster Care
- No. 48: Supporting Maltreated Children: Countering the Effects of Neglect and Abuse
- No. 47: Advocating for America's Youth in Foster Care: Perspectives and Recommendations from Former Foster Youth
- No. 39: Engaging the Private Sector to Increase Positive Permanency Outcomes for Children in Foster Care
- No. 38: Race and Identity in Transracial Adoption: Suggestions for Adoptive Parents
- No. 35: Better Prospects, Lower Cost: The Case for Increasing Foster Care Adoption
- No. 24: What's Working in Foster Parent Recruitment: Stories from the Field
- No. 17: Finding Permanence for Kids: NCFA Recommendations for Immediate Improvement to the Foster Care System
- No. 12: A Statement on the Nation’s Foster Care System
- No. 1: Performance Measures for Courts: The Next Step in Foster Care Reform
A number of state and private sector organizations specialize in supporting adoptions from foster care and provide detailed information and direct services to children, youth and families. Below is a list of some of the most commonly requested resources:
- State Adoption Assistance Programs
- How to Adopt from Foster Care - State by State Information
- AFCARS - Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System FY2019 Data
- Finding Forever Families from the Dave Thomas Foundation
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