The Benefits of Adoption vs Foster CareVery sadly many, many people have related tragic stories about their failed attempts to adopt children through the Florida State foster care system. Although others have succeeded in adoption after fostering several children, most repeat a variation of the following issues about their negative experiences in Florida. While 30% of children adopted in Florida are adopted by their foster parents, the true role of the foster parent is often to assist in successful reunification with the parent or transition to some other permanent placement. We urge people who only want to adopt to make sure that the parental rights have been terminated and that the children are free for adoption when all possible foster parents or extended family members have declined to adopt.
Fortunately, our Interstate Adoption Program prevents or reduces many of these problems of the foster care system as explained below.
Six Potent Reasons in Support of Interstate Adoption:
Reason #1 – Better Education
Adopting parents report how discouraged they were in attending the Florida 30 hour required MAPPs course as it is not geared to adoption but more to fostering children. Florida’s Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) curriculum includes a great deal of information relevant to successfully parenting children who have experienced the trauma of abuse, neglect or abandonment and have other special needs. The MAPP training prepares both prospective foster and adoptive families to successfully parent children who have experienced the trauma of abuse, neglect or abandonment and have other special needs. While 65C-16.005(4 and 5) Florida Administrative Code (FAC) clearly states that the preferred method is the approved adoptive parent training group process they do allow on line CEU course. Although these regulation provide for accommodating families who must miss a training session or whose circumstances make it difficult to participate in scheduled group classes, sadly not all MAPP trainers or agencies that put on the MAPP course are as accommodating. Several people have told us that when they missed even one class for unavoidable reasons they could not easily make it up and did not graduate. Also, the course they signed up for was suddenly canceled for lack of attendance and then they had to wait many months for the next course, or the courses were not available in their area.
Interstate requirements vary but are generally more tolerant about the educational requirements and often allow for substitutions by internet long distance education, which is much easier to accomplish and may be more informative about adoption. We will ask you to complete CEU courses online to prepare you to adopt and we will provide you with a MAPP equivalent certificate. However, if you have already completed the MAPPs course, usually there are no additional courses needed.
Reason #2 – Not Fostering
In Florida the process has been called Foster to Adopt; however, due to lawsuits and legal challenges, the state has recently advised agencies not to use those terms. People have interpreted this foster to adopt to mean a symbolic rent to own, where if you pay the lease payments, then you can have the car. Basically, this means, if you take care of the children, you will have a possibility to adopt the children that are living in your home, whom you love, and with whom you have bonded. While 30% of children adopted in Florida are adopted by their foster parents, the role of the foster parent is often to assist in successful reunification with the parent or transition to some other permanent placement.
Interstate regulations generally do NOT allow cross state fostering although there are exceptions such as for relatives and Regulation One where a small number of foster families can move to other states together with the children within their care. In our Interstate Program, by federal regulations, all placements are for adoption and permanent placement purposes, and not temporary or for fostering a child. In other words, when you are selected for a child’s placement, there is a certainty that the placement will be concluded with an adoption finalization unless the placement does not work out for you and the child. Of course, all interstate child placements for adoption are subject to ICPC (Interstate Compact) provisions and we work with the Sending State to ensure all of the conditions are met before the placement of any child.
Families seeking adoption exclusively should choose to consider only children whose parental rights have been terminated and are free for adoption. All children featured on Florida’s Heart Gallery and the other state agencies Heart Galleries provide this information about their waiting children who have had their parents rights terminated and are available for adoption. Hope for Families will represent you to these other states agencies or in Florida and assist in the matching conferences by professionally representing you to these agencies as a qualified home study approved family and providing insight into the matching process with the specific child available for adoption.
Reason #3 – Permanent Placement
Foster parents repeatedly report how the very children who have been in their home for months or years have been suddenly removed by the DCF or Florida Agency without legal recourse to get them back, despite the bonding, healthy parenting reports, and no complaints. Although all children featured on Florida’s Heart Gallery are currently free for adoption as their parental rights have been terminated, Florida’s family selection process gives priority to biological grandparents, to other relatives as well as to the child’s current caregivers. The family selection process delineated in 65C-16.002(3)FAC gives priority to grandparents, other relatives and the child’s current custodians. Further 65C-15.002(5)FAC requires consideration of attachment, kinship and permanence and additional applicant evaluation criteria is provided in 65C-16.005FAC. Match decisions must always consider the best interest of the child but it seems that Florida child welfare agencies most often gives the extended family members priority over foster parent or other non relative adoption placements. (For more information about this see the More Florida Statistics at the bottom of this page.)
The process does not seem to consider the possibility that the foster parents are more capable, or the child is bonded to the foster parents and wants to stay with them. This ruling sometimes seems to disregard the best interests of the child in an effort to honor the blood line. That is why people often talk about the 4 heart break rule, where you seem to have to foster 4 children before you get to adopt one with the attendant grief and dislocation to your family.
Reason #4 – Full Disclosure
People complain that in fostering, the agency never releases all the information on the child they are inquiring about as the prospective parents are only fostering and the agency says that they are not required to share all of the data in an effort to protect the child. The agency states that for fostering is on a need-to-know basis, but the people do not get the critical information they need about the health and potential hazards. In the past, this has included pertinent information about sexual predators or violence, which may create a dangerous situation for the adopting family and emotionally traps them to adopt a child that they may not have been prepared to handle. Florida law according to 63.085FS and 65C-16.002(7 and 8)FAC does requires full, written disclosure of the social, medical, developmental and other history of a child whose parental rights have been terminated and is free for adoption.
In the Interstate Adoption Program, the child will not be removed from your home due to parental rights, as the sending state must always have the parental rights of the child terminated without appeal, and they also must have ruled out any possible extended family member wanting the children, so all placements are final, solely based on the best interests of the child. This prevents the devastating heartache to both the adopting family and children of having the children removed from a loving foster home due to the priority often given to the extended family.
Interstate regulations mandate that ALL information is released by the sending state agency to the receiving state agency (which would be Hope For Families). As stated,Florida regulations state that in the process of adoption, all Florida agencies must release all information to adopting parents. In other words, the sending state MUST release ALL information to us about a child before placement, and we MUST release all information to you before placement. Therefore you will get ALL the information available on the child or children before you make your decision to adopt them and have them in your home, which is completely opposite to the fostering system.
Reason #5 – Selection Process
Often in Florida, the children are placed in your home to foster with little information or choice on your part, and many people have stated that they have felt pressured by the system to take children that they were not ready to care for. Parents have complained to us that they feel that some adoption authorities have not treated them fairly, respected their adoption preferences in choosing the children placed in their home.
In our Interstate program, we give you 120 plus websites with photo listings for you to select your own inquiries. Then the process will provide increasingly more information on the child so that you can make a careful decision before committing to the child or being pressured to take a child. You will speak to case workers, Guardian Ad Litems, the current foster parents, review the entire record of the child and visit the child, before a match is made and the child is placed in your home to bond with. With our Interstate Adoption Program, we represent you throughout the entire process in a very compassionate and professional manner, and help you get the information you need before you make your decision to adopt.
Reason #6 – Affordable Adoption
Cost and certainty are twin concerns that adopting parents always bring up to us. International adoptions are very expensive in the $35-40,000 range particularly when you consider the travel expenses and lost income. These adoptions take an average of over 2 years and are risky due to the constantly changing international regulations, politics and the implementation of the Hague Convention. Many people have attempted to adopt internationally and lost all of their fees when the government changed its rules arbitrarily. Domestic adoptions are usually in the $25,000 to $35,000 range when counting the legal costs and birth mother expenses, and then, in 10-20 % of the time, the birth mother or birth father changes their mind and keeps their baby, which creates a huge emotional toll. Many attorneys do not return any of the fees they charge even if this happens as they have already provided legal services. Although adopting in Florida through a Child Welfare Agency may have no upfront fees, many people have complained to us about the process, the post placement supervision, having the children they have bonded with being taken away, and lack of disclosure, and yet for most of our adopting families with the Tax Credit, our Interstate program also ends up costing the family.
In contrast, Interstate adoptions are certain due to the fact that there are over 114,000 children available for adoption. The total cost of at the adoption is only $8,500. Then the sending state almost invariably pays for all the other cost including medicals, post placements and legal finalization expenses etc. All placements across state lines are for permanent adoption and are only placed with the parental rights terminated before placement. This interstate process is stable with both Federal and State regulations to protect you with licensed agencies accomplishing the adoption.
The new 2011 IRS guidelines allow up to a $13,170 tax credit for families that qualify through income and taxes. Please check with your accountant and the IRS Form 8839 for application to your situation. This tax credit reduces the taxes paid by giving you money back for the taxes you paid to the IRS, dollar for dollar for what you spend for the interstate adoption, Home Study service or any travel expense you incur to see the child before adoption. Therefore our Interstate adoption program may have a “no net cost” to your family!