Adopting a foster child who has been in your care can be a rewarding experience, as well as a low-cost form of adoption. However, most foster care placements are temporary, as the child’s reunification with his or her biological parents is always the state’s primary goal. This can make foster-to-adopt placements challenging and unpredictable. Hopeful parents should carefully consider all of their options before deciding to pursue a foster-to-adopt placement.

The following article provides a closer look at fostering to adopt in Arizona, as well as its benefits, challenges and alternatives that hopeful parents should consider when growing their families.

What is fostering to adopt?

In the United States, family reunification is always the primary goal of the foster system until it is determined that it is not in the child’s best interest to return to their biological family. While most foster children either return to their biological parents or other relatives, some foster children do become available for adoption. In these cases, the child’s caseworker will often give the child’s foster parents the first opportunity to adopt the child. These are known as foster-to-adopt placements.

While most foster children will return to their biological families, more than half of the children who do become available for adoption are placed with their foster families. Of the 49,693 foster children adopted in 2014, 52 percent (25,185) were placed with their foster families, while 32 percent were placed with relatives and 14 percent were placed with other adoptive parents.

Foster to Adopt in Arizona Process

Foster parents who have already been licensed by the state and who have provided foster care for the child for at least six months may only need to complete a child abuse registry and criminal records check to be able to adopt, as well as a review of any significant changes in circumstances that would affect their ability to adopt. If the foster child to be adopted is at least 5 years old, a case worker may privately interview the child and other members of the adoptive household about their feelings toward the adoption.

After the child is placed for adoption with the foster parents, a caseworker will visit the family at least once every two months until the adoption is finalized.

Every foster care adoption process involves legal paperwork and a finalization hearing. MyersStrickland has helped finalize a majority of Pima County’s foster care adoption cases and can provide all of the necessary legal services through every step of the foster care adoption process.

Benefits and Challenges of Fostering to Adopt

If you are interested in adding to your family, foster parenting may seem like an intriguing option because of the lack of wait time and cost.

However, foster parents must understand that most, if not all, of their foster children will only live with them temporarily. A child may stay with the foster family for weeks, months or even years, only to then be reintegrated into their biological families.

It is often uncertain when a child will become legally free for adoption, if ever. For foster parents who have provided long-term care and grown attached to their foster children, this uncertainty can be challenging, and reunification can be a difficult, painful experience. For this reason, foster parenting is recommended for couples that want to provide temporary care for children who have been abused, neglected, or removed from their biological parents for a variety of other reasons.

Providing temporary care, comfort and security to a child in need can be a rewarding experience. Foster parents who can meet the challenges of fostering are highly regarded, as they fill a very important role that not everyone is comfortable providing.

Adopting a Waiting Child from Foster Care

Hopeful parents who are interested in adding to their family permanently may want to consider other forms of adoption. There are many children in the foster system who have been legally freed for adoption and are waiting for their forever home.

Adopting a waiting child from foster care provides many of the same benefits as a foster-to-adopt placement. These adoptions usually involve a low cost and wait time and give adoptive parents the opportunity to provide a child in need with a loving, permanent family, without the uncertainty of the foster-to-adopt process or the possibility of reunification.

As with any form of adoption, foster care adoption also poses certain challenges. Children adopted from the foster system may have been exposed to prior trauma, which can create attachment issues and emotional struggles for children and their parents. Adoptive parents should do careful research and weigh all of their options before creating an adoption plan. For more information on foster care and foster-to-adopt in Arizona, visit the following resources:

Whether you are seeking to adopt a foster child that is currently in your care or a waiting child from the foster system in Arizona, MyersStrickland can help you reach your adoption goals. Learn more about our services for parents adopting from the Arizona foster system, or contact us today to begin your foster care adoption process.