The decision to adopt a foster child can never be taken lightly. When foster families initially take in a child, it is with the intention that she will eventually rejoin her birth family, and foster parents work with the birth parents to achieve this end.
The initial reasons for a child’s entry into the foster care system are predominantly neglect and parental substance abuse. Sadly, when children exit the foster care system, only half of them throughout the nation, and 63% in Mississippi, return to their families of origin. Close to 30% of foster children in Mississippi are either waiting for adoption or to have guardianship transferred. And 91% of those who are adopted have had a foster relationship with their adopting parents.
From fostering to adoption
Becoming a foster parent requires patience, empathy and the open-mindedness to try different approaches to parenting. Fostering a child itself has unique challenges, not only in the foster parent’s capacity to nurture and protect a child who has suffered from abuse or neglect, but also in their ability to be prepared to eventually let go of a child to whom they have bonded closely.
Among the requirements in Mississippi for a prospective foster or adoptive parent are that they must:
- Be 21 years of age or older
- Be legal residents of Mississippi
- Pass the required criminal background checks
- Not have more than four children in their home
- Be able to independently support themselves financially
Prospective parents need not first become foster parents in order to adopt a foster child. When children become eligible for adoption, they will be matched with prospective parents through the Mississippi foster care program. The additional costs of adding another member of the family may also make adoptive parents eligible for financial assistance through this program.
In 2015, over 4,700 children in Mississippi were living apart from their families of origin in a foster or other care arrangement. Making the decision to adopt a foster child is not only an opportunity to grow your family, it can literally make a world of difference to a child. Getting the assistance of an experienced adoption attorney will help you to plan and prepare so that this important life transition will go smoothly.