While on the subject of adoption, I will share some information that will hopefully benefit anyone who might consider adopting a child from the foster care system. You know…all those questions you might have wondered but were afraid to ask. J As you read, keep in mind that this is just my understanding of the entire process. Also, things change over time (and between states), so this information may not be true for your specific situation.
The purpose of the foster care system is to work toward reunification with the child’s birth family. If the court determines that reunification is not in the child’s best interest, parental rights can be terminated. This process can take many years. If a child cannot return to his/her parents, then other family will be considered. If a suitable family member cannot be found, the child becomes available for adoption, and the foster family the child has been living with is generally the first to be considered. If no one adopts the child, he/she remains in the foster care system. Something I just received in the mail said that there are 600 children who are legally available for adoption in Alabama...600 children longing for a permanent family...600 children who may have no one to turn to once they age out of the system.
I’ve heard that people can sometimes pay $20,000 or more for international or private adoptions. Foster care adoptions are not nearly as costly. You only have to pay the court and attorney fees (maybe a couple thousand) – and you may not even have to pay that, depending on the nature of the adoption. Certain groups of children are eligible for adoption subsidies. The subsidy could include money for court/attorney costs, continued Medicaid services, and money to help pay for the child’s continuing expenses. Now, if you adopt a foster child who is a baby with no health concerns, you have little hope of a subsidy. Children that could be eligible for a subsidy include: children 8 years of age or older, African-American children 2 years of age or older, sibling groups of 3 or more, a child with a documented mental or physical disability, a child with an emotional disturbance, or a child documented to be at high risk for developing a mental or physical disability. This is for Alabama; the link above provides info for other states. You may wonder why the state does this. From their perspective, even if the child is granted an adoption subsidy, the state saves a lot of money. It is much more expensive for the child to remain in the foster care system for the rest of his/her life.
There is also an adoption tax credit. Another good resource is the Alabama Foster & Adoptive Parent Association (AFAPA). Criss & I attended an AFAPA Conference several years ago that was very helpful. Feel free to ask if you have any other questions.