Frequently asked questions
What's the difference between foster care and adoption?
Foster care is meant to be temporary; adoptive placement is meant to be permanent.
The foster parents’ primary role is to help in efforts to reunite the child and their birth family. This may include visits between the child and birth parents, (when appropriate), taking a child to counseling (if needed), and working closely with the foster care worker. Children may stay in the foster home for several days, weeks or months – perhaps even a year or longer – while birth parents are working to resolve the issues that brought the children into care in the first place. Sometimes, children are unable to return home; it is then that the court terminates parental rights, and the child becomes available for adoption. Adoptive parents become the child’s legal parent. Their lifelong commitment and responsibility are no less important than if the child was born to them.
Where are the children available for adoption living now?
All of the children available in this program are residing in foster homes, relative homes, hospitals or residential facilities.
I've decided I want to adopt. Now what do I do?
The first step in any adoption is a Family Assessment, also known as a homestudy. Families must be approved through the Family Assessment process before a child can be placed in their home for adoption. The Family Assessment involves a series of meetings between the family and an adoption worker. Training regarding adoption process and common issues in adoption will also be required before or during the assessment process. During the assessment, your social worker will talk with you about your motivations and expectations for adoption. It also gives the adoption worker a chance to get to know your family.
The Family Assessment process usually takes three to six months to complete, depending on factors such as worker caseload and family cooperation. Assessments are typically prioritized based on the types of children waiting and the characteristics of families who have applied. The process typically consists of a number of meetings at the home as well as personal interviews. The study generally includes the following:
- Social History - A complete history and evaluation of your current family life and past experiences -- and how they will affect your capacity to parent an adoptive child -- is written.
- Health Statements – All household members will need to provide a medical history and a recent physical (within one year).
- Criminal Background Check/Fingerprinting – Applicants will need to complete a state police check, Protective Service clearance, fingerprinting (effective 1/1/08) and a local police clearance. A state police check and Protective Service clearance will also be required for all other adults in the home.
- Income Statement – Applicants will be required to provide proof of your income, such as a copy of an income tax form, a paycheck stub, or a W-2 form.
- Personal References - You will be asked to provide the names, addresses, and phone numbers of three unrelated individuals who can share their knowledge about your experience with children, the stability of your marriage and/or household, and your motivation to adopt.
Be sure to choose an agency you feel comfortable with. The Family Assessment process can feel intrusive, so it is important that you trust the people you work with. Your agency will become your strongest ally and advocate in this process.
What Kinds Of Families Are Needed For These Children?
All of the children LAS serves have some special needs. These can range from very mild needs such as allergies, ADHD and adjustment issues to more moderate/severe concerns such as learning disabilities, major developmental delays and emotional or cognitive impairments. Many of these children have these needs as a result of trauma they have experienced. The most successful families are patient, able to laugh, consistent, open-minded, open to older children, open to sibling sets and above all are committed. For successful adoptive families, commitment to the child outweighs their expectations.
Who can adopt? What are the expectations/requirements?
You do not have to be married, own your own home, live in a house, have a lot of money or be of a specific age to adopt. If you are interested in adopting, LAS will complete an Adoptive Family Assessment (which is a standardized report used by all agencies throughout the state). This report will assess your home for the purposes of safety and adequate space for housing a child, your ability to meet your current financial needs using your income, your criminal history (if applicable), your health and your social history. This report will also be used to document your preferences with regard to an adoptive child, so that LAS can help you make an appropriate match. There are many more details specific to each individual family that will be included, and LAS staff will help you walk through each step of the assessment process.
Who can’t adopt?
Certain types of criminal history, major mental or physical health concerns or lack of adequate space for a child are a few of the factors that may preclude you from adopting. The assessment process is very comprehensive and is designed to help us ensure that we don’t have any concerns about a child’s safety in your home.
How long does the process take?
The assessment process typically takes about 90 days. This is very much dependent on the family’s willingness and ability to turn in all required paperwork in a timely fashion. Once you are approved for adoption, the matching process can take anywhere from a week to several years, depending on your interests and the children we have available at any given time. The legal process for adoption also ranges in length from six months to over a year depending on several factors. Please join us for an adoption orientation to learn more about all three of these processes!
Will I have a say in what child gets placed in my home?
Yes! We will talk very specifically with you about why type of child would be a good fit for your family. You will be able to identify an age range, number of children, race(s) and level/type of special needs you think you would be comfortable in parenting. When we have a child we think might be a good fit for you, we will contact you to offer some initial information. You will then determine if you would like to move forward to learn more about the child.
Will I know the child’s history before I meet the child?
Yes! We will give you all of the information we have on the child (redacted) prior to a first meeting. You will have the opportunity to look over the file and develop questions. We will then set up a meeting for you to meet with other adults who know the child well such as adoption worker, foster care worker, therapist, teacher, foster parent and/or possible relatives. You will ask all of your questions and get to learn more before we set up an initial meeting.
Do children recover from developmental delays and other special needs?
Many of our children have developmental delays as a result of the neglect and/or abuse that they experienced in their birth homes. Many of these delays do resolve over time when the children are placed in a stable and loving home and are provided with support services to address the delays. However, not all delays and/or special needs will resolve.
What kinds of supports are in place to help adoptive families?
Lutheran Adoption Service has a Post Adoption Resource Program that families may access prior to the adoption finalizing as well as any time after the adoption occurs. This program provides in home therapy for children and families and referrals to appropriate resources for additional needs. We also have a monthly support group available in the metro-Detroit area for adoptive families and their children. If your concern/crisis is beyond the scope of the LAS program, we can refer you to the state PARC program. This program also supports adoptive families post adoption and has additional resources and capabilities.
Will I have to interact with the birth family?
Adoptive parents always have the right and responsibility to determine the individuals their children see and interact with. Children awaiting adoption from the foster care system have usually been made available because of court ordered termination of parental rights. Once their rights are terminated, birth parents have no right to maintain contact with their biological child. However, contact with appropriate family members after adoption is strongly encouraged when it is in the child(s) best interest. Many of our children have siblings who have been adopted by other families or grandparents, aunts or uncles with whom they have a strong relationship. It may be important to the child’s well-being that those relationships continue.
Should I become a foster parent so I can adopt a younger child?
No. Because foster care is considered to be a temporary placement, it is not a good idea to become a foster parent with the expectation that you’ll be able to adopt any child placed in your care. A foster parent is expected to work with the agency and birth parents, in the hopes that the family will be reunited. A foster parent must be objective, and must be able to let go of a child if and when it comes time for that child to leave the foster home.
Sometimes, however, children are unable to return home. Once parental rights are terminated, relatives and foster parents are given consideration for adoption. This is why there are very few young children available for adoption.