We are delighted that you are considering partnering with Arms Wide Adoption Services to foster or adopt one – or more – children that need a loving family. The adoption process involves research, counseling and careful consideration related to what is involved when adopting a child who needs a little extra attention. You must possess compassion and an understanding heart to be an adoptive parent. But adoption doesn’t have to be overwhelming – we are here to help you navigate the process!
There are 31,943 children in the Texas foster care system. Nearly 7,000 of them are waiting to be adopted – meaning their parental rights have been terminated and they are family-less. Thanks to generous people who open their homes to foster children, 5,703 children are adopted each year.
However, this still leaves 1,250 children who “age out” of the foster care system without ever being adopted. They begin independent lives as 18-year-olds without the support of a family. The resulting implications have a serious and lasting impact for both these kids and the communities in which they live.
With your help, you can give these children a second chance at a happy childhood, so the cycle of abuse, neglect and abandonment in Texas and across the country is not fueled by these statistics.
We know timing is everything, but one thing we’ve learned here at Arms Wide Adoption Services is most families wish they hadn’t waited so long to consider adopting from foster care.
“Once we heard at an Arms Wide training about all the kids in foster care, it was a no-brainer,” said Kaysie Nelson, Arms Wide adoptive mom of three. “Knowing what my kids came from makes it a no-brainer.”
Although none of our families will tell you adopting from foster care is the easiest thing they have ever done, they will tell you it’s the best and most rewarding thing they have ever done.
Here is what you need to know about the adoption from foster care process in Texas with Arms Wide Adoption Services:
Who Can Adopt
- You may be single or married, but if you are married you must have been married for at least two years. If divorced, you must have been divorced for at least two years.
- You must be 21 years of age or older.
- You must be a citizen or legal resident of the U.S. – this includes all household members.
- In order to be eligible for services through our Houston office, prospective parents must live in one of the following counties: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker, Waller or Wharton.
- In order to be eligible for services through our South Texas office, prospective parents must live in one of the following counties: Aransas, Bee, Brooks, Cameron, Duval, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Live Oak, McMullen, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Starr, Webb, Willacy and Zapata.
The Preparation Process
All potential adoptive parents must be screened to determine eligibility and ability to adopt. The screening process, which can take about six months or more (depending on how quickly you are able to submit your application paperwork), may vary between agencies but normally includes:
- Attending an informal Information Meeting.
- Completing an application packet.
- A criminal background check and child abuse check, including FBI fingerprinting.
- Providing proof of income, insurance and other information.
- Attending and completing Arms Wide pre-service training classes.
- Completing a home study process.
After the home study has been completed and approved through the committee, you will create a family profile book, which shares your story and journey to adoption, and the matching process will begin.
There Are Some Costs
Although working with Arms Wide Adoption Services is free of charge to children and families, potential families will still be responsible for some of the following costs associated with becoming licensed with the state:
- Fingerprinting – approximately $50 per person.
- Mileage to trainings and visits.
- Fire inspections – fees differ by county, and ome counties require additional inspections, as well.
- Implementing home updates as outlined by the inspections, if needed.
- Buying fire extinguishers and a fire escape ladder, if needed.
Other avenues – like private, infant, and international adoptions – are known to be expensive. But a common misconception is that adopting from foster care is also expensive. That is not the case. Arms Wide Adoption Services will provide the necessary pre-service training at no cost to families working with us. Most importantly, Arms Wide Adoption Services will serve as an advocate for you in the placement process, ensuring your family is left feeling fulfilled.
The Scare Tactics
Arms Wide Adoption Services will make every effort to paint a realistic picture of adoption through foster care. Many of these children have experienced unimaginable trauma. As with any child, children from foster care need understanding, love, and support – and for you to be there. But they also need a little bit more. And we will be here to walk you through how to handle situations when past trauma resurfaces. We have many skilled case managers on our Post Adoption team, who will continue to help strengthen your family long after the adoption has been finalized.
During on-going training sessions, Arms Wide Adoption Services also show the ReMoved Films. We encourage you to watch them now when considering the journey to adopt from foster care. The films explore the often unknown aspects of foster care – especially how a child ends up in care, and how trauma induces certain behaviors.
In following the steps outlined in this article, we still tell our families the entire process can take nine months, and not every step will be easy. But adopting from foster care can save lives – giving children who have experienced abuse, neglect, and abandonment a second chance at a happy childhood.
The first step in the adoption process is attending an Information Meeting. If you are interested in starting your adoption journey and want to speak to someone in our offices, please contact Arms Wide Adoption Services today! Our Houston office can be reached by calling 713-681-6991 and our South Texas office can be reached by calling 361-850-8200. Arms Wide Adoption Services can also be reached toll-free at 1-800-460-6298.
All children need and deserve a loving family – could you be that family for a waiting child?
Take the first step in getting started.