At Stephenson & Fleming, LLP, two of the primary populations we serve are foster and adoptive parents adopting children through NC’s child welfare (foster care) system. These are agency adoptions that involve County Departments of Social Services having custody of the children and placing them in adoptive homes. While we manage the legal elements of finalizing an adoption once a child is placed with a family, we recognize that there is a significant need for more foster and adoptive parents in NC. We are committed to supporting the timely achievement of permanency for all of NC’s children and families. To that end, we would like to highlight the following resources for families who are just starting the process to become foster and adoptive parents.
Foster Care and Adoption Work Together
As of June 2018, there are over 11,000 children in foster care in North Carolina. Approximately 1200 children exit the child welfare system through adoption each year. While the primary plan and desire for all children entering foster care is to be returned to the home of their biological parents or family members, there are times when that is no longer possible, and children become legally free for adoption. The majority of children in foster care who become free for adoption are adopted by their foster parents. There are also children who are legally free for adoption and in need of adoptive placements different from their current foster placement.
Foster parents are special and amazing families who care for the children placed in their home as their own and support their permanency plans. This means supporting reunification with birth parents, guardianship with relatives, or adoption. They receive day to day support from their agencies and work closely with social workers, birth families, and professionals to achieve the best possible outcomes for children and families. Foster parents are often given the opportunity to adopt children in their care should they be unable to return to their families of origin.
Adoptive families are either foster parents who are also seeking to adopt or families who have decided that fostering is not the best fit for them and are seeking placement of children who are already legally free for adoption and in need of an adoptive home. Children particularly in need of adoptive placements in NC are older children, teens, sibling groups, children of color, and children with special needs. These are children who are currently in foster care and seeking their “forever family.” They are deserving of unconditional love and support. Families do not have to be perfect to provide a loving home to these children.
The NC Kids Adoption and Foster Care Network is a wonderful resource to start with. Visit their website. NC Kids is not an adoption agency. Rather, they are a program run by NC DHHS, Division of Social Services that provides support and matching services to county departments of social services, prospective and current foster and adoptive families, and children involved in NC’s child welfare system. They are the primary program recruiting adoptive homes for NC’s children in need of adoptive placement. They manage online profiles for children, engage in recruitment activities, and complete initial reviews of prospective adoptive families for children before sending preplacement assessments to counties for final matching. NC Kids is also a wonderful resource for prospective foster and adoptive families just beginning the process of becoming approved and in need of additional information about how to decide on an agency, what the process entails, and where to start.
Adoptuskids.org is the website for Adopt US Kids, a national organization run by the US DHHS that works to achieve permanency for all children in need of adoptive homes in the United States. They provide online photo-listing, resources for families and states, and recruitment of foster and adoptive families on a national level.