There are so many unfounded myths about adopting a child from foster care swirling around that it makes the entire process confusing. Thankfully, more than 5,000 children in foster care were adopted in 2019 and able to celebrate receiving their ‘’forever homes.’ A 2019 survey found that approximately one-quarter (24 percent or over eight million people) of Americans say that they have considered—or are currently considering—adoption. Viewing it mathematically, if 1 in 500 adults adopted a child in foster care, every waiting child in foster care would have a permanent family. No one knows how many people may decide not to adopt a child in foster care due to the myths surrounding foster care adoptions, but that would be tragic.
MYTH: Foster Children are out of control and dangerous.
Adopting children from foster care can create a beautiful family. In honor of National Adoption Month, we hope to dispel any misinformation that could prevent someone from adopting a child from foster care.
MYTH: Children end up in foster care because of their behavior.
FACT: A child’s behavior isn’t the reason they’ve been placed in foster care. Children placed in foster care are there because their biological parents or family could not care for them. A child may have been removed from the family home because of traumatic events that can cause emotional or behavioral problems. Family members may struggle with addiction or substance abuse or become incarcerated or ill.
FACT: Although many children placed in foster care have experienced abuse or neglect or have complex developmental or behavioral issues, children in foster care are not juvenile delinquents or “bad kids.” They are great kids who have experienced difficult circumstances through no fault of their own. Children in foster care, like all children, can thrive and become exceptional individuals in a nurturing, structured environment.
MYTH: Adopting a child from foster care is expensive.
FACT: Adopting children from foster care can be virtually free. Many organizations do not charge for their services to families adopting a child from foster care. Congress has also made federal tax credits available for foster care adoptions to help offset required fees, court costs, legal, and travel expenses. In 2007, the maximum federal tax credit for qualifying expenses was $11,390.
MYTH: The process of adopting a child from foster care involves too much red tape and bureaucracy.
FACT: The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 by Congress has streamlined foster care adoption. This law stipulates that children in foster care, who cannot be reunited with their birth parents, are freed for adoption and placed with permanent families as quickly as possible. The process does require that individuals interested in adopting must go through the process of becoming a foster parent, which is a 3-6 month process. You can learn more about this process here.
MYTH: There are no, or very few, children available for adoption.
FACT: The opposite is true. On any given day, there are nearly 440,000 children in foster care in the United States. Most of them would love nothing more than finding a permanent home or “forever home” with a loving family. Every person’s story is unique, and J’ai Brown’s story, a supporter of SOS Illinois, was a child in foster care, who was adopted, provides an account of how a permanent home can make a difference.
MYTH: The birth parents of a child in foster care can show up to claim their child.
FACT: When a child enters foster care, the first plan for any child has a goal of returning home to live with birth parents. However, based on the decision of the courts, concurrent planning may begin immediately, or later in the process. A concurrent plan means two simultaneous plans are created for the child in foster care: a plan for reunification with the family and a plan for adoption if reunification is not possible. This process is completed through the courts. However, once a judge determines the first plan is no longer the best option for the child, the second plan is approved. The birth parent’s rights are terminated as part of the adoption process. Once the adoption is finalized, the child is a permanent member of your family, and the birth parents will not attempt to ‘get their child back.’
If you’re considering adoption, we hope adopting a child from foster care will be included. Join SOS Illinois and learn how supporting our mission can help children in foster care find their “forever home.”