In West Virginia, there are nearly 7,000 children in foster care and approximately 1,000 of these children are legally eligible for adoption. These children were removed from their biological families due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. Their parent’s parental rights have been legally severed and reunification with them is no longer the goal. These children are in need of loving forever families who will provide them with the love and support they will need to succeed throughout childhood and into adulthood.
Where are these children living while they wait for their forever family?
Most children waiting for adoptive families live in temporary foster homes; others reside in group homes or residential facilities. Sometimes, because they have a need for treatment and sometimes because there is not a foster family available for them.
Why are waiting children profiled online and in Sunday’s Child?
The Sunday’s Child column creates a way to feature children who are waiting for a forever family. Through this column, it is our hope to touch the hearts of families and give a voice to children who need and deserve the love of an adoptive family.
What is the process toward adoption when a certified family inquires, when a non-certified family inquires?
If you are interested in adopting a child who is in foster care, you will first need to be certified as a foster/adoptive family. You will select an agency, complete a training course and have an approved homestudy. After you have completed the certification process, you can register on the state’s adoption site and make inquiries about children who are listed with their profile and photo. Your agency worker will also assist you in finding children who are a good match for your family. Another way to adopt through foster care is if children you are fostering become legally eligible for adoption. Generally the foster family is given priority over adopting children in their care.
What is the adoption matching process?
If you have inquired about a child on the DHHR’s website, the child(ren)’s workers and team members will review the inquiries and interview families who seem like they might be a good fit. After the team has reviewed the families and spoken with the child, they will arrange for visitation to orient the child and family with each other (unless the child is already living in the home). Some of these visits may be overnight or over a weekend. Pre-adoptive placement begins when the child moves in and actually lives with the chosen family. This phase lasts for a minimum of six months. The time it takes to adopt a child is different for every family and depends on individual circumstance.
How is a child(ren) transitioned into your home?
If a child is already living with you when they become legally eligible for adoption, their worker will speak with you about the option of adoption. If the child is on the state’s website or a worker contacts you because they think your family would be a good fit for the child(ren), they will set up a visitation date. Some parents and children have had their first meeting at a restaurant or a park, a time that is casual and not too long but long enough to get a sense for how things might work out. If the match seems like a good fit for both you and the child(ren), the child(ren) will either start with day visits or might even do an overnight stay. Depending on the child(ren) and how the visits are going, the visits will increase until the child can permanently move into your home. Again, this phase lasts a minimum of 6 months and varies depending on the family and individual circumstances.
How are adoptions finalized?
All adoptions are finalized through the court system. A child or children will live with you for a minimum of 6 months before the adoption begins to be finalized. After this 6 month period, adoption paperwork is completed and filed with the courts. The family selects their own attorney and most costs associated with adoption finalization are eligible for reimbursement. The final step of adoption is in front of a judge when you become the legal parent(s).