Thank you so much for your interest in the 30 Days of Hope campaign.
For the fourth year, DePaul is partnering with WSLS 10 News to profile and share stories from children who need a safe, loving home.
Interested in learning more? Click here to fill out a questionnaire and reach our regional recruiters.
As you consider opening your heart and home to a child in need, we invite you to check out these resources and learn more about foster care and adoption in Virginia.
Who are the children in Virginia Foster Care?
Children enter foster care through no fault of their own, often because they have experienced abuse or neglect by a caregiver. These children are in the temporary custody of the state while their birth parents are given the opportunity to complete services that will allow the children to be returned to them if it is in the children’s best interest. In Virginia, roughly 30% of children who go into foster care return to their birth families. For children who are unable to reunite with their birth parents, many go to live with a relative or are adopted by their foster parents.
DePaul’s foster care program serves young people from infancy to 21 years old. Many of these children and youth have special needs. Special needs may include emotional or behavioral issues, attachment challenges, difficulty in school, medical needs or physical disabilities, or intellectual disabilities.
While DePaul serves children of all ages, we are especially in need of foster parents who wish to open their home to children age 8 or older; teenagers; sibling groups; children coming from a group home or residential setting; or children in need of a permanent, adoptive home.
Adoption from Foster Care—How does it work?
Adopting from foster care
Adoption from foster care differs from private adoption in several ways:
- Though it is possible to adopt a baby from foster care, this is a rare occurrence. The children who are available for adoption generally range from toddler to 18. The median age is eight years old.
- Because all children in foster care have experienced some form of trauma, parents who adopt from foster care undergo specific training to understand the effects of trauma and help children heal.
- Parents who adopt from foster care work with a public agency or a private agency that has contracted with the state to provide services.
- Adopting from foster care costs little to no money. There are federal and state adoption assistance programs available, including Medicaid, for children who qualify.
Check out our resource on the differences here: https://www.depaulcr.org/cost-private-adoption-vs-adoption-foster-care/
Fostering before adopting
In Virginia, foster care and adoption are a continuum—outlined by the Foster Care Timeline (http://www.courts.state.va.us/courtadmin/aoc/cip/resources/timeline_jdr.pdf). Families who are interested in foster care or adoption will follow the same steps to get approved, referred to as the home study process. DePaul completes a dual approval for foster care and adoption, for families willing to help support children in temporary foster care placements while awaiting potential adoptive matches.
Potential advantages of the foster-to-adopt
- Foster parents and children placed in their care have more time to bond and learn whether they are the right forever family match.
- Foster parents gain experience parenting children who have experienced trauma.
- Foster parents can help children maintain connections with birth family members, even after adoption.
- Foster parents can experience parenting children of all ages. This may broaden the age range of children that families are open to.
- Children have fewer moves and disruptions when they are adopted by their foster family.
Foster care is designed to be temporary and short-term. It is important for families interested in fostering to adopt to actively support efforts to reunify children with their birth families while reunification remains the child’s permanency goal. Foster parents need to be prepared for the very real possibility that children reunited with their birth families or placed with other relatives.
This dual role for foster parents is part of what is referred to as “concurrent planning,” meaning that while a plan to reunify children with their parents is being actively pursued, work is also being done to quickly achieve an alternate permanency plan (such as adoption by the foster parents) should the reunification plan not be successful.