Recently I wrote this blog post on how to adopt from foster care. I was thrilled by the huge response, but I there were also a lot of questions. I turned these questions over to experts in foster care adoption. Here are their answers:
Jennifer is a case manager at Arkansas Baptist Home for Children. She often works
with DHS in Arkansas with placement opportunities. She helps prepare children who are in their children’s home for adoption once directed by the state.
Q: Lesley asked: Have there been any studies on changing the kids’ first names and how it affects the kids. I know every child’s past is different and they don’t all react the same. But overall?
A: Changing your name can be tricky. I have not heard of many studies on this and how it affects the children. I can tell from my experience in my family though that the option was given to my new cousins and they jumped at that chance. I believe that it is encouraged to change the last name, but that is mostly because of the children being seen as your child in our culture. I know some kids are different and I would really consider before changing their name. Give them ownership. My cousin allowed her children to come up with their own names. They had to weed through the funny ones because I think one may have threw in Spiderman as a possible name. If their ownership is to keep that first name, don’t encourage them to
change it to what your want.
Q: Laurie asked: We want to do straight adoption and be a forever home. Do we have to foster first? We know there’s a waiting period till adoption is final, but don’t want the chance of child being taken back.
A: No, you do not have to foster in order to adopt (at least in Arkansas) but this can vary state by state. Call your county/parish worker office and tell them that your interested in straight adoption. In Arkansas, you do have to go through a training that will prepare you for the long road. I would encourage you to know that there is no “fairy-tale” adoption. I cannot promise that this child will come into your home and be there forever.
Usually in Arkansas there is a three visit requirement and then you enter into a “pre-adoptive” home stage. After six months, you will receive your court date from the child’s county to finalize the adoption if all is going well. I encourage family and individual counseling at that time STRONGLY. There will be tons of emotions as this child attempts to learn more about your parenting style, and how the family dynamics are made up. Usually children who are adoptable will have their goals with the department switched to “adoption.” Feel free to voice your concerns to your adoption specialist assigned to your case.
Christie is the Co-Executive Director of The Project Zero. Project Zero strives to raise awareness about adoption in Arkansas through many promotional efforts, including their Heart Gallery, which travels around the state.
Q: Trisha W. asked: What are the home and income requirements? We do not own our own home. We have 4 children so we do not have extra bedrooms. My husband works for a ministry and I am a home schooling mom with no income. Money is always tight. This is something we are thinking about for the future.
A: You don’t have to be wealthy or affluent to adopt, but you do have to prove
financial stability … that you will not be counting on an adoption subsidy to pay your mortgage or car payment.
There is little to no cost to adopt through foster care, and many times adoption subsidies accompany kids: any sibling group, an African American child over the age of 2, and a Caucasian child over the age of 9. (This is the general rule)
In Arkansas, each child does have to have 50 square feet of space that belongs to them. It varies on whether bedroom sharing is allowed, depending on your state. It’s worth looking into. And you don’t have to own your own home!
Christie is the author of The Middle Mom: How to Grow Your Heart by Giving It Away …a foster mom’s journey.
Do you have an question or comment about adopting from foster care? Leave it in the comments!
Successful Foster Care Adoption by Deborah Beasley
The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family by Karyn B. Purvis
Challenged Children with Severe Behaviors by Heather T. Forbes
Other blogs I’ve written about adoption: