THE NEED FOR ADOPTIVE FAMILIES IS URGENT

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According to the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, foster care family inquiries have declined by 30 percent in the state of Virginia within the last six months. Yet, the demand for children and teens needing safe homes is rising. 

As COVID restrictions ease, we are hoping that courageous families will reach out about becoming adoptive families.

Keep reading to learn about common misconceptions about adoption, the adoption process, and the training and support you will receive when you adopt through CHS.

ADOPTION MYTHS

One myth that a lot of people have about adoption is that it is expensive. The costs associated with adopting a child from foster care are actually very minimal. 

Adoptive families also receive a monthly maintenance payment from social services to offset the care of the child. Children adopted from foster care are also eligible for an adoption subsidy that the adoptive parents receive. The child’s emotional, physical, and behavioral needs determine the subsidy.

One other huge adoption myth is that only married individuals living in the suburbs with a white picket fence can adopt. This could not be further from the truth.

You can give a child or teen a permanent loving home no matter if you’re single, married, divorced, or widowed. The ability to provide a safe, supportive, and loving home is more important than your marital status. In addition, CHS supports adoption by same-sex couples.

You also do not have to own a home. If you rent an apartment or a home, you can adopt too! 

THE ADOPTION PROCESS

When you adopt an older child or teen from foster care, you will need to:

  1. Attend an orientation to learn more about the process.
  2. Fill out a registration form.
  3. Finish a three-week training class to help prepare you for the special challenges of parenting a child or teen who has faced childhood trauma such as abuse or neglect.
  4. Complete a home study and receive approval.
  5. Complete the matching process with a child or teen.
  6. Make preliminary visits with your child.
  7. Welcome your child home and begin the six-month supervisory period before finalizing the adoption. The state requires six months of supervision before legal adoption. You will also receive post-placement services during this time.

ADOPTION TRAINING AND ONGOING ADOPTION SUPPORT

CHS conducts our pre-service training several times a year, based on interest from prospective adoptive parents. We require the training before the completion of a home study.

The purpose of pre-service training is to provide families with an understanding of how abuse and neglect impact a teen’s ability to trust others. 

Training topics include:

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
  • Trauma and its impact on the brain
  • Importance of permanency 
  • Attachment and bonding
  • Stages of child development 
  • Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) 

Training helps parents and workers connect with and empower youth. We discuss the importance of adult attachment style when working with children as well as how trauma affects brain development.

Pat and Ruth Matthews embarked on their adoption journey three years ago.

ADOPTION HOME STUDIES

In Virginia, state law requires families to have an approved home study to adopt a child. Following training, families may apply for a home study. Home studies allow CHS to gather information about you so that we can match you with a child whose needs you will meet. The home study process will further educate and prepare you for adoption as we determine your readiness to adopt. 

The home study consists of at least three interviews with a CHS social worker, which includes a visit to your home. Our social workers will request criminal background checks, DMV records, medical and financial histories, personal references, as well as search the child abuse registry. 

On average, a home study takes about three months.

During the training and home study process, a CHS social worker will help your family think about what type of child you can best parent. We consider many aspects of a child, including age, race, behaviors, and emotional and physical needs. As we learn about the waiting children in Virginia and their needs, we’ll seek to match a child or teen with the family that best meets their needs.

Ultimately,  as the legal custodian of the child, the Department of Social Services will decide whether your family is a good match for the child. As the family, you also have a voice in whether you want to move forward and meet a child. We may consider several different young people before all parties agree to a match.