Foster to adopion in Philadelphia is a very special niche in both the foster care and adoption world. It is in desperate need of extraordinary people to stand up and intervene for the children in these situations. In Philadelphia, there are about 8,000 children annually in the foster care system.
The goal is reunification with their biological parents or a relative, but sometimes this is not a plausible result. Although foster parents do the best they can, studies shows that the more homes a child is in, the more difficult it is for them to attach to an adult and thrive. The goal of foster to adopt is for a child to be in a home where, if reunification fails, they will be adopted by that family so as to minimize the trauma of additional placements, as well as the grief and loss experienced.
Foster to adopt necessitates training and preparation to be a foster parent, as well as meeting the requirements for adoption. The requirements for foster care in Pennsylvania begin simply. You must be 21 years of age, own or rent appropriate housing, have a medical examination clearing you physically, and a record showing no criminal history or documentation of child abuse. The next steps will be training.
Depending on the program you select, there are different training options. There are state-run programs as well as private agencies. Contact Pennsylvania State Resource Family Association at 1-800-951-5151 for a list of agencies. Click here for other resources about foster to adopt programs. The program you select will guide you through training as well as the legal requirements and home studies. In addition, six hours of approved training is required annually to maintain certification.
Psychologically, foster to adopt requires mental and emotional strength. You must be able to provide a loving and nurturing environment, as well as stability and consistency for the child. They have led a life of chaos; they need structure with no surprises. You have to separate the child’s behavior from who that child genuinely is. Although you may desperately wish to adopt the child, it is vital to remember the goal of foster care is reunification with the biological family. There will be visitations with the parents who are often struggling with a multitude of emotions and stressors. Both the children and the parents already feel like failures, they need to be lifted up and supported.
Children should not hear any negativity about their parents as they will personalize it. Again, separate the parent’s poor behavior and choices from who they are. A foster to adopt parent loves these children as if they had always been with them, yet understands that letting go may become a part of the process. Do not expect to be able to do this on your own, you will need a village. A strong supportive community is essential. A trauma therapist is often crucial in navigating the changes from anticipating returning to the biological parents, to planning a life with a new adoptive family. Be assertive in making sure therapy for the entire family is in place from the beginning.
In addition to the child and the parents, you are going to need to get along with the social workers, case workers, the guardian ad litem (lawyer for the child), and even a CASA volunteer. They are all going to come with different opinions, but the child’s best interest should always be in the forefront. Also, there will be the school teachers, counselors, therapists, and doctors which you will come into contact with. Being flexible and accommodating while still advocating for your child can be overwhelming and exhausting. Kindness, understanding, and patience will be imperative.
Foster to adopt is an area where we as parents can fill the gap that so many children experience in their journey through the system. A place where they can feel safe and know that if their biological parents fail them, they have someone who loves and wants them. They will never be alone and don’t have to be afraid. It’s a gift which can require tremendous sacrifice on the parent’s part, but no matter the outcome, your child will be a better person for what you have done.
For additional information on how to care for foster children, click here.