When it comes to foster-to-adopt, the first thing to know is that there is no formal process for doing so in Washington State. The goal of every fostering situation in the state is reunification, and while successful adoptions do occur, it’s only after all reunification options have been exhausted.
This is because reunification is always in the best interest of both children and parents, as studies have shown. But if it isn’t possible, for whatever reason, here’s what foster parents looking to adopt should know.
You Face Tough Odds
In Washington State, foster children have a 50% chance of being successfully reunited with their parents.
While this may seem like decent odds for a foster family looking to adopt, keep in mind that just because a child may need adoption doesn’t mean the foster parents are first in line for that adoption.
You Have To Stay Focused On Reunification
As we’ve mentioned, reuniting a child with his or her family is the ultimate goal of every fostering situation.
For that reason, foster parents looking to adopt must help the state and their fostering agency to exhaust every potential reunification outcome before even thinking about beginning the adoption process.
This, in many ways, is against the foster family’s own interest if they have a strong desire to adopt. But it’s especially critical for the child to have every attempt made at being reunited with their family.
Older Children Have The Biggest Need For Adoption
In Washington State, children under six years of age are the highest population coming into care. They are also the ones getting placed quickly into adoptions.
Older kids, often ages 11-17, are most likely to desperately need a permanent home. They are also more likely to need adoptive parents skilled in dealing with trauma and therapeutic parenting.
Most Adoptions In Washington State Are Open
Even children who are successfully adopted are likely to have an ongoing relationship with their biological parents. That often means predetermined meeting schedules and conditions as part of the adoption agreement, depending on the fit of the parents.
Foster Agencies Are Not Adoption Agencies
Every foster agency has a clear purpose: place children with foster families as needed, then work to reunite those children with their parents.
That means foster parents looking to expand their families through adoption should also explore adoption services, which specialize in placing children in permanent, new homes.
For more on foster parenting, download our free resource The Essential Guide To Becoming A Foster Parent In Washington State.