Monday, January 13, 2014

Foster, Foster to Adopt, or Adoptive... Determining the Foster Parent Role that is right for you...

When we decided we wanted to start a family, we made the decision to adopt. We had no intentions of doing a private adoption, we knew that there were children who were already born that needed homes. What we did not realize is how large of a crisis it really is. The number of legally free children in the United States is just mind blowing. Our choice was to adopt through Foster Care.

I made an appointment with our local Adoptions Social Worker direct from DSHS to discuss the process. She sat me down and explained to me DSHS works with three different types of Foster Parents. There are traditional Foster Parents, Foster to Adopt Parents, and Adoptive Parents. From there she explained that if we only wanted to adopt we would most likely end up with a child that is age 3 and up. So that meant no possibility of adopting a baby. Since we did not have any biological children we really wanted to experience a baby.  We did not know what we were doing as parents, so we kind of wanted to start at the beginning, a baby. Being an adoptive parent, especially if you are going to try and adopt a young child, means you can be waiting a while. I really did not want to wait all that long. So we ruled out Adoptive Parent...

Then there are the traditional Foster Parents. Generally Foster Parents are not adoptive parents. They have no 'intentions' of creating forever homes for these children. They are there to give these kiddos a safe, warm, loving home during a challenging time. A foster parent could have a child in their home for one day or for 18 years. This does not mean that they will never adopt. There have been many Foster Parents that have ended up adopting many Foster Children just because of the bond they have all developed by the time the child is legally free. For us (at that point in time) we were not wanting to be traditional Foster Parents.

That led us to Foster Adopt. By stating you want to be a Foster Adopt parent you are saying your end goal is adoption. DSHS will try to place you with children that seem like they will need a forever home. Still very risky, because at any time the Biological Parent may succeed and the child may go back with them. Or, they may find a family placement (which will almost always out rank a Foster placement). Usually the child will have been in Foster Care for 4-12 months before they will place that child into a Foster Adopt home. That is usually about the time that the Courts want to know what the long term plan for the child is. This seemed like the best option for us.

We were very fortunate that our first placement ( a newborn) actually became our daughter. We were told that we will probably have 3-4 babies go through our home before we had the chance to adopt (even as a Foster to Adopt parent). A scary proposition... As I have stated in other posts she did leave our care for a short period of time. I will never forget what the Social Worker told us... A child has a higher chance of death the first six months of their lives than any other time. Immediately my mind went to SIDS, but I knew you are not out of the woods until age two with SIDS so that didn't make sense to me. I gave her a confused look, to which she immediately replied...Neglect and Abuse... As sad as I was, she made me realize that we may have actually saved that babies life. At that moment I realized the importance of traditional Foster Parents.

All three roles are important and the truth is all three roles overlap. So, just because you choose one, does not mean you cant change your mind or not end up with what you set out to achieve. You could be an adoptive parent who receives a placement, and come to find out you are not a good fit with that child. The department will find another suitable home for that child. You could be a Foster Parent that falls in love with their Foster Child and ends up adopting him or her. You could be a Foster to Adopt parent who after having a child in their home for 14 months, loses the child to a family placement. So when choosing your role think about your end goal. What reasons are leading you to be a Foster Parent? What do you want the outcomes to be? Just know that as a Foster Parent you will need to learn to roll with the punches.

Feel free to e-mail me any questions you may have. Becoming a Foster Parent is quite the confusing process at times.


  1. Everywhere is so different. As we were learning and going through training what we were told is that there is such a need for foster parents in our county/area that kids are being placed wherever they can be placed almost with no regard for the designation (Foster or Foster to Adopt although they have different names here - Resource Parents or Partnership Parents). We chose to be Resource (Foster) Parents but would very much like to adopt. We made this choice because we know that when a child becomes "free" if they are in our home we would be the first in line to adopt. Does that make sense? A family that finished training with us in August and chose to be only Partnership Parents (Foster-to-Adopt) with a huge age range still hasn't had anyone placed in their home because no one is actually working in the beginning to see what the chances of that child needing a forever home might be. Its like our county really doesn't want to work with Foster-to-Adopt parents!

    1. The only time it seemed to be a struggle for us,was when the lawyers were involved (well before the child was legally free).They always wanted to know if we were Foster to Adopt. It would sometimes get to me, because I felt like they would discard some of the things I would tell them. It seemed like they saw me as a negative force just trying to get myself a baby. When in reality I did want what was best for all of our kids, weather that meant our home or their birth parents homes. We have always accepted special needs kiddos, which might be why we adopted three kiddos in three years... That being said what child in Foster Care doesnt have special needs?


We Love Hearing From You!