Adoption from Foster Care
At any moment in time in the United States, about 100,000 children are in foster care and waiting to be adopted. This type of adoption is called a public foster care adoption. It has both similarities to and differences from private adoption. It is similar because it requires a similar legal process of terminating the parental rights of the birth parents (if that has not already been done) and creating a new legal relationship between the prospective adoptive family and the child. The family will also need a home study as in a private adoption. They will also need to take classes to learn about parenting strategies for children who have suffered abuse or neglect. Often children adopted from foster care are older and/or may have challenging medical or behavioral needs.
Adoptions from foster care differ from private adoptions in that there are financial incentives. Because it is good for our communities when children are raised in stable homes, state and federal governments try to lessen the financial burden for families adopting from foster care. For example, the cost of the home study and trainings are typically subsidized. There is usually no “placement fee.” The attorney fees are often partially or completely paid by the state agency. In some circumstances, the child may be eligible for an adoption subsidy. This includes health insurance coverage until the child turns age 18 and, at times, a cash payment per day if the child is eligible. An experienced attorney knows what is reasonable in a particular case and will be able to go over the details of a subsidy agreement with a family. Additionally, a family adopting from foster care can take the entire federal Adoption Tax Credit in the year of finalization even if the adoption cost the family less than the entire amount.
It is not unusual for children in foster care to remember details about their birth families and sometime contact continues between the child and members of the family. Any formal arrangements for contact after the adoption are made on a case-by-case basis and must be planned with the best interest of the child as the primary consideration.