More than 100,000 children are in the U.S. foster care system waiting to be adopted. Each year, thousands turn 18 years old and leave the system without adoptive families. There are many misconceptions of foster care adoption that prevent potential South Florida adoptive families from taking action. A Miami adoption attorney can help guide families through the foster care adoption system and all the legal processes it entails. With such guidance and the basic information provided below, those who want to adopt will have no reason to shun foster care adoption.
The General Process Involved
The foster care adoption process, just like other types of adoption, cannot begin in earnest until the termination of parental rights is completed. The child’s birthparents’ parental rights must be legally terminated voluntarily or involuntarily by a court of competent jurisdiction. After the termination of parental rights, the child is legally considered free for adoption. This undertaking and further legal steps to adoption are complex procedures, plus adoptive families must meet inquiry, orientation, preparation classes, and home study requirements. Therefore, adopting through foster care lasts, on average, nine to 18 months. A Miami adoption attorney can guide adoptive families through this process with ease.
Cost of Foster Care Adoption
A very common misconception of adopting through the foster care system is that it is very expensive. The truth is that adopting a foster child costs from $0 to $1,500 on average. Typically, adopting directly from a public agency is free, while those who adopt through a private agency usually end up with out-of-pocket expenses. Often, those who adopt foster children have access to federal and state tax credits, adoption subsidies (specifically for “special needs” children), and other types of financial aid to support their adopted children until they reach adulthood.
Special Needs Children
“Special needs” is often used to describe children in the U.S. foster care system. Sometimes it deters potential adoptive families who do not know what the term means and are wary of its implications. Each state has its own definition, but generally a foster child is labeled as “special needs” when he/she has certain characteristics that may make him/her less attractive for adoption in the eyes of typical adoptive parents. In most instances, this term is used to describe older children (aged 5 and up), as well as children with one or more ongoing physical, mental, or emotional health issues. This designation can also be attributed to children that are members of a sibling group, as the siblings typically must be adopted together.
Single Adoptive Parents
In this article, the term “adoptive families” has been used liberally. However, it is important to note that the term (in this case), is used to describe families headed by two parents as well as families headed by a single parent. In all 50 states, unmarried single individuals are allowed to legally adopt through the U.S. foster care system. In fact, a significant portion of children adopted from foster care were adopted by single parents.
If you are considering adopting a child from foster care, call a Miami adoption attorney today. Our family law experts at Pimentel & Castillo are experienced at assisting South Florida adoptive families navigate the complex legal process, from termination of parental rights to final adoption.