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Adoption from Foster Care: How It Works

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Adopting a child from the foster care system is an avenue that a lot of prospective adoptive parents consider. Before anyone decides to pursue adoption out of the foster care system, it is important to understand how adoption from foster care works. While there are differences in the process from state to state, here are a few generalities of how adoption from foster care works:

1) It is important to understand that the number one goal of the foster care system is not adoption. It is reunification with the biological parents or family of origin. In some respects, there really is no such thing as foster-to-adopt.

2) Families who are approved as foster parents via their home state’s approval process are also eligible to gain approval as an adoptive home.

3) The timeline for states to provide reasonable efforts towards reunification is set by the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act. It gives 15 out of 22 months. After reunification efforts have been made, the goal may be legally changed to permanency outside of the parental home.

4) Termination of parental rights must occur before a child can be legally adopted. It is a very serious ruling from the courts and is not taken lightly. There has to be clear and concise evidence and documentation regarding all efforts made towards reunification.

5) If a family is the child’s foster family or relative home, they can petition the courts for adoption depending on the allotted time that each state requires regarding dwelling within the home. For example, in the state of Missouri, prospective adoptive parents can file for adoption once TPR (termination of parental rights) has occurred and the child has resided in the home for a consecutive six-month period.

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