Whether you already have an idea about how you’d like to open your home to a child, or are just beginning to look into options, this page provides a wealth of information and some practical FAQs about opening your home. While Embrace is not an adoption or child placing agency, we’re here for you every step of the way. As you take steps forward, we encourage you to access our resources such as support groups for parents and kids, accessible family outings, parent retreats, respite care events, ongoing training, and more!
If you would you like to participate in a casual, small group conversation where you can get answers to your questions, join us at “First Steps”. This bi-monthly information gathering at the Embrace Office in Historic Downtown McKinney covers the following topics:
- The differences between private infant adoption, international adoption, fostering to adopt, and straight adoption from foster care
- Requirements to become a licensed foster or adoptive parent in Texas
- How to start the licensing process
- Things to consider when selecting a child placing agency
- Honest answers to your questions and concerns about opening your home
- Click here to learn more about our First Steps meeting
Becoming a foster parent
Foster parents open their homes to care for abused and neglected children who need a safe, temporary place to stay. Single adults and married couples (with or without children in the home) over the age of 21 can apply to become foster parents. This FAQ provides a detailed list of foster parent requirements. Prospective foster parents go through extensive training provided at no cost by a child placing agency (CPA) before becoming licensed. Foster parents, with the help of their agency, create specific parameters for the children they feel equipped to parent. This allows families opening their homes to prepare for the age range, gender, and number of children who might come to stay with them. The child’s day to day care is in the hands of the foster parents. They meet the physical, emotional, medical, educational, spiritual, and recreational health of children in their care. Foster children become part of the family for the time they are in the home.
Foster parenting with the hope of adoption
Much like typical foster parents, families who hope to adopt can open their homes to children in need of a safe place to stay. In additional to the foster parent licensing classes, there are usually an additional class or two required for families who would like to be licensed to adopt as well. The goal of foster care is to keep children safe while their parents address the issues in the household that put their children at risk. Sometimes this reunification cannot take place, and children in foster care need a permanent adoptive family. Caseworkers will reach out to the child’s extended family members in hope of finding a “kinship” placement for the child. If no relatives are willing or qualified to adopt the child, the child’s foster parents may have the option to adopt the child or children. Currently in Texas, only 1 in 3 children who enter foster care will be reunified with their parents or caregivers. This means there are many foster parents who have the opportunity to adopt children they’ve been caring for.
Matched adoption from foster care
When a child in foster care needs a family, and is not adopted by their relatives or foster parents, they can be placed for adoption with a licensed adoptive family. These families complete the same basic training as foster families, but do not open their homes to “emergency placements”. The prospective adoptive parents set parameters for the child or children they feel equipped to parent and adopt. They can be specific about the age range, race and ethnicity, gender, special needs, and behavioral challenges of children. The family’s caseworker prepares a lengthy document called a “homestudy” that tells the story of the family. This virtual introduction to the structure, history, culture, beliefs, and hobbies of the family allows caseworkers to decide if the family might be a good fit for a specific child. The family’s homestudy may be submitted for many children before they are selected as an option for a child. The child’s adoption worker will narrow the pool of interested families into a few “finalists” who will receive additional information about the child and may have the opportunity to meet the child. At this point, the family has the option to keep moving forward, or to remove themselves from consideration.
Thousands of children in foreign countries become orphaned, are abandoned by their parents, or do not have parents who can safely care for them. While some of these children may be placed for adoption in their home countries, some may be placed for adoption internationally with American families. Each country has their own unique system for arranging international adoptions. The laws governing international adoption are complex and subject to change depending on that countries politics. International adoption hit a peak in the mid-90’s, and has seen a sharp decline in recent years. Stricter enforcement of anti-adoption-corruption policies and growing trends for in-country adoption have reduced the numbers of children available for international adoption. Today, many countries only allow international placement of older children, children with significant special needs, or larger sibling groups. Requirements for adoptive families vary by agency and country, but often include being between the age of 25 and 45, financially stable, married, and fewer than 3 children already in the family.
Private infant adoption
Private infant adoption represents the smallest percentage of adoptions that take place in America. Over the last 50 years, two main factors have effected the numbers of infants placed for adoption. First, reduced stigma around single parenting and increased social services have encouraged far more women and couples with unplanned pregnancies to parent their children. Sadly, the lives of many babies who might have otherwise been raised by their parents or placed for adoption end in abortion. Many women give birth to infants each year, who are then lovingly placed for adoption. These mothers may be very young, single, have too many children to care for, or just feel unready to parent. These women may ask someone they know and trust, such as a family member, or a couple at their church, to parent their child. Others may turn to agencies to help them choose from qualified parents who have been approved by the agency. Birthmothers or Birthparents may be able to peruse a binder of prospective families and choose one they feel would be the best match for their child.