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.
Indeed, there is a particular need for families who are able to foster and adopt teenagers.
Courage and time seem to be the barriers when it comes to households applying to be foster and adoptive families. Many families do not have either after living through the pandemic for the last year and a half.
At CHS, we have also seen a decrease when it comes to inquiries from adoptive families due to COVID-19. But the need is as critical as ever.
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.
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:
- Attend an orientation to learn more about the process.
- Fill out a registration form.
- 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.
- Complete a home study and receive approval.
- Complete the matching process with a child or teen.
- Make preliminary visits with your child.
- 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.
Hear what one family had to say about our training:
“The training we received was outstanding. The people who delivered the training were very professional. The Trust-Based Relational Intervention training for older foster children was invaluable.” -Pat Matthews
“I loved how Children’s Home Society would bring in different professionals. They brought in a psychiatrist, an author, and many different people who were the experts in the field who told us what works and what doesn’t.” -Ruth Matthews
“The training from CHS and support has allowed us to develop the critical attachment with our son Alston that has truly changed his life and ours.”
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.
Post Adoption Services
Adoption is a lifelong process. Post adoption services and support are crucial for successful adoption and a great source of comfort for families who are considering adoption. Post adoption services continue to serve adoptive families long after the adoption is complete.
Typical post adoption services include support groups, therapy, counseling, and respite.
The CHS Post Adoption Program provides post adoption services at no cost to adoptive families.
We are proud to say that in 2019, 100% of families reported improved family dynamics as a direct result of CHS services. Our services are provided through the Regional Post Adoption Consortium Services in the Central Region and the Northern Post Adoption Consortium in the Northern Region.
Who Are Virginia’s Waiting Children?
Currently, there are 1,400 children in Virginia’s foster care system.
- 54% are boys
- 46% are girls
- 54% are White
- 33% are African-American (there is a very big need for adoptive families of color)
- 8% are Hispanic
- 11% are multi-racial
- 33% are under age 5
- 30% are age 13 or older
Currently, CHS has many children waiting for adoption who range from 10 years of age to 17. Meet our wonderful children here.
We dedicate our time to finding permanent adoptive parents for children of all ages throughout Virginia and to providing ongoing post-adoption counseling to maintain successful family relationships well after we have finalized an adoption.
If you want more information on how to give a child in need a forever home, get in touch with us today: 804-353-0191. The need is as urgent as ever.