Jan 09, 2017
by Pa Xiong, Foster Care Licensor/ Recruiter, Bethany Christian Services Of Minnesota
The first goal in traditional foster care is to reunite a child with biological parents in a safe and healthy environment. When foster care specialists begin working with families who want to foster a child, we assess their ability to support that goal. Adoption is never the primary objective, although it can happen that biological parents’ rights are terminated and a child needs an adoptive home.
So what would it mean for you if the child in your care became eligible for adoption? The following are some helpful next steps to consider.
Are you looking for information on adopting a child through the foster care system? Bethany can help! bethany.org/adoption/foster-care-adoption
Who decides if I can adopt?
- When parental rights are terminated, the county that has guardianship over the child will determine whether or not you would be eligible to adopt the child. Depending on the state you live in, you may be considered “next of kin” if the child has been in your care for six months or longer.
- As Bethany foster care specialists, our role is to support and advocate for the foster family; however, we will make decisions to meet the best interest of the child. Although there may be times that our views differ from the county, in the end, our responsibility is to support the case plan and the decisions the county worker will make. Even if a child has been in your care for the past six months and parental rights are terminated, the county has the right to consider other families to adopt the child.
Am I obligated to adopt the child?
- If the county chooses to consider you as a potential adoptive family, we always advise families to make the decision based on what meets the child’s best interest. Even though a child has been in your home for a period of time, you are not obligated to proceed with adoption. If you are feeling like your family cannot commit to being this child’s forever family, please say no. Families should feel confident about their decision to adopt and know they can meet the child’s long-term needs.
- If you determine that you cannot be the child’s forever family, please be assured that your role is still important as a foster parent, and there are often families waiting for the opportunity to adopt a child in foster care. You have played an important role in the child’s life with what you have done to help them thrive.
What if I want to adopt the child?
- If adoption is something your family is open to, we suggest that you connect with your Bethany specialist and the child’s county workers to determine the next steps. This helps clarify whether adoption is the best decision and ensure state guidelines are met. Even though a child may have been in your home for a period of time, it is important to remember that adoption would be a new chapter in the child’s life, and also in yours.
Being a foster parent isn't easy, and you have taken on the role despite knowing that there will be hardships. We appreciate all that you do and consider it a blessing to assist you in your journey as foster or adoptive parents.