Children waiting to be adopted sometimes spend year after year in foster care. In fact, these "waiting" children may spend their entire childhood being shuffled from one foster home to another.
Hopeful Children Waiting to be Adopted
When a child enters the foster care system, he typically thinks of his situation as temporary. In the best-case scenario, he will be reunited with his family in just a short time. Unfortunately, there are thousands of children in foster care who are unable to return to their families. Some may be orphaned, but more often than not, their parents are stripped of their parental rights due to drugs, child abuse, abandonment, or other circumstances.
When a child is placed into the foster care system, she is referred to as a "waiting child" until an adoptive family is found. The average age of a child waiting to be adopted in the United States is about seven years old. According to a report by the Adoption and Foster Care Reporting and Analysis System (AFCARS), approximately 80 percent of children in foster care are there for more than 11 months before being adopted, and some are never adopted. However, the good news is that changes in state regulations have made adopting through foster care a simpler and more affordable process than in the past.
Foster Care Adoptions
Children enter into the foster care system for many reasons. In some cases, their entry into the system is quite sudden due some sort of emergency, such as abuse, abandonment, or neglect. In other cases, a child may be placed in foster care after a pattern of problems has been established in the child's home. Whatever the reason, the foster care system's goal is to provide a safe place for the child to stay, whether temporary or long term. Parents are often reunited with their children after a court acknowledges that the home environment is safe for the child. Still, what about the children who can never return to their homes? Those children are termed "waiting children" because they are waiting for a family to adopt them and provide them with a permanent home.
Legal Risk Adoptions
Families that seek to adopt through the foster care system agree to be foster parents in the hopes that they will be allowed to one day adopt the foster kids they host. This particular situation is sometimes referred to as a "legal risk adoption." In this case, children are placed into foster care while the state agency attempts to terminate the biological parents' rights.
In 1997, the Adoption and Safe Families Act was created, which limits the time parents have to resolve their legal issues. If those issues are not resolved within a specified time limit, their children (who are typically in foster care) are then deemed ready to be adopted. Once a child is placed on the list of children waiting to be adopted, his or her photo is often placed on a state agency's website and in photo books, along with some background information and short descriptions of the child.
Foster parents of children who will potentially be available for adoption need to keep some important information in mind.
- First, it's helpful to remember that these children have often endured very difficult situations, and they need an abundance of patience as well as love.
- Next, families should seek counseling to deal with the many issues that might occur.
- Finally, keep in mind that until the child's parents' rights have been terminated, there is a very real possibility that he will be reunited with his family.
With so many young people available for adoption, foster care children everywhere appreciate families who will open their homes to those who need and deserve a loving, family environment.