10 Myths About Foster Care Adoption and the Truth Behind Them

Foster care and foster care adoption, while a beautiful and common way of building a family, can still be a misunderstood process, especially for those who have little or no knowledge of how it works.

When you’re considering adopting a foster child in California, it’s important that you are as educated as possible before moving forward. Foster care adoption is a challenging but rewarding process, and every prospective adoptive parent should be aware of what awaits them if they choose this kind of adoption.

Our adoption professionals at FCCA can provide all the information you need to make the best decision for you, and our counseling and guidance will continue throughout the whole fos-adopt process. You can always contact our offices to ask whatever questions you may have and start your adoption process when you’re ready.

To help you better understand the truth about foster care adoption, we’ve dispelled some of the myths you may have come across in your research:

1. “Children end up in foster care because of their own behavior.”

Children are almost always placed in foster care for reasons beyond their control – usually because of their biological parent’s inability to provide a safe and supportive home environment. Often, a child is removed from the family home due to a traumatic set of events that can cause the child to develop emotional or behavioral problems to cope. While a child may go in and out of the foster care system after developing these issues, this behavior is not the reason they are placed in foster care.

2. “Foster children have too much trauma in their past to ever live a normal life and have a normal family.”

More than 99 percent of the adoptions completed by FCCA result in happy, successful placements where parents and child go on to live as a well-adjusted family. While the children in foster care may have special needs, a parent’s patience, love and understanding is often the solution to overcoming any challenges. Our adoption professionals will work with adoptive parents throughout the adoption process, even after placement, to locate the counseling and support resources needed for a successful foster care adoption. With the right dedication, children in foster care can move forward from their traumatic past to become happy, healthy children. FCCA has proven over and over that appropriate education, such as FCCA’s adoptive parent training that is based on the Trust-Based Relational Intervention Program, will provide you with the skills needed to help these children blossom and heal.

3. “Foster care adoption is expensive.”

Fos-adopt is actually the least expensive of adoption processes in California, with an average cost of $2,000 for adoptive parents. Children adopted through foster care qualify for Adoption Assistance Payments, which include a monthly subsidy and MediCal coverage. Most adoptive parents benefit from the adoption tax credit of up to $13,000 for the tax year that their adoption is finalized.

4. “I have to be a member of a straight, married couple to be a fos-adopt parent.”

Pursuant to California law, adoptive parents can be of any race, gender, sexual orientation or marital status. As long as you meet the basic requirements to adopt in California and complete your adoption home study and trainings, you can adopt a foster child.

5. “I have to be a foster parent to many children before I can receive a permanent adoption placement.”

FCCA differs from other agencies in that we focus on adoptions with low legal risk. This means that in our fos-adopt program, you will never be “just” foster parents. Instead, the only child we place in your home is a child you have met and decided that you want to adopt. While we can never eliminate all risks, your adoption social worker will work hard to help you find an adoption opportunity with a low risk of disruption.

6. “Foster parents are on their own once they receive a placement.”

Much of the misinformation about foster care and foster care adoption comes from the few publicized negative stories about the process — not the thousands of cases of successful adoptions. If you’ve only heard the negative stories, you may think that foster parents and adoptive parents are left on their own after they receive a placement. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your FCCA social worker will be available to provide support through every step of your adoption, even after placement and finalization. We know that the post-placement adjustment period can be the most difficult time during your adoption, which is why we dedicate ourselves to being available when you need us.

7. “I don’t have a choice about which child will be placed with me.”

You will never be forced to accept any specific child in your home, nor to accept temporary placements.  Your assigned FCCA social worker will work with you to find the child who was meant to be in your family. You start by deciding what characteristics would fit best into your family, from race to gender to special needs and background. Some of these parameters, like choosing to adopt an infant, will impact the risk level and your wait time. Your FCCA social worker will help you determine whether your adoption goals and preferences will be best completed in a fos-adopt program or one of our other adoption programs.

8. “I will have to interact with my child’s birth family.”

When a child’s birth parents’ rights are terminated as part of the adoption process, their right to any contact usually ends as well. Parents who adopt children from foster care rarely continue interacting with the child’s birth parents; that’s typically reserved for temporary foster parents who are working to reunite children with their parents. However, each adoption is unique, and some children benefit from continued contact with other birth relatives, such as siblings or grandparents. Your social worker will always inform you if a particular foster care adoption opportunity requires future birth family relationships.

9. “A child’s birth parents can show up to ‘reclaim’ them.”

As mentioned, a birth parent’s rights are terminated during the adoption process. This means that they have no legal rights to the child after the adoption is complete. Adoptive parents need not fear that a birth parent will someday try to “get their child back.”

10. “Foster care adoption is too risky. I might get attached to a foster child who I can’t end up adopting.”

While this statement may be true for some foster care adoption agencies, this is rarely a worry when you complete FCCA’s fos-adopt program. While we can never eliminate all risks, our low-risk adoption program only places you with children who are highly likely to be freed for adoption once they are placed in your home. Our very minimal disruption rates show that this program works for the vast majority of our families who successfully adopt from foster care.

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If you have more questions about foster care adoption in California that this article hasn’t answered, please contact our adoption professionals for more information. Our fos-adopt process is a successful, beautiful way of building a family. Whenever you are ready, we can help you start your personal adoption journey.