Becoming a foster or adoptive parent it is no small task. First are the piles of paperwork to fill out, then the hours of training - and that's the easy part. Next comes the real work - you invite children into your family, home and life and take care of them in a way that not only heals them, but also their families. Like the word "hero" defines, it takes COURAGE to love a child to health and let them go. It takes COURAGE to make a lifelong commitment to a child if that is what is needed. Fostering and adopting are the most COURAGEOUS acts you will embark on. The definition of "hero" also talks about nobility. Nobility is not for famous or some select class...no, nobility - that excellent, superior, admirable character - resides in unassuming homes, hidden in neighborhoods all over the place.
We realize that adoption from foster care can be a confusing process and hope to answer many of the questions you have regarding how to proceed. Though the Idaho Wednesday’s Child Program does accept inquiries from families who do not yet have a home study completed, no adoption can move forward without a completed home study. In addition, due to confidentiality restrictions, the child’s adoption caseworker generally cannot provide you with further personal information about the child until your home study is complete. Having a completed home study will help the process of adoption from foster care move forward much more expeditiously and provides the child's permanency team with the information needed to determine whether your family may be the best fit for the child you are interested in. When assessing inquiries that have come in for a waiting child, preference is routinely given to families that already have completed home studies, so it is important to think about getting one as soon as possible!
Common questions and helpful answers
A current listing of children awaiting adoption can be found here on our website under the “Waiting Children” tab. If you are touched by a child’s story and feel that your family may possess the qualities the waiting child’s team is looking for, please go to the inquiry form found at the bottom of the child’s profile and submit an inquiry on the child. The inquiry will be received by the Idaho Wednesday’s Child Recruitment Coordinator and will then be forwarded on to the child’s Permanency (Adoption) Caseworker for consideration. Once your inquiry is received, we will send you an email outlining all of the steps needed on how to proceed.
There are two paths to completing a foster care related adoption home study in Idaho. For families who hope to adopt at some point but are open to becoming licensed foster parents as well and working with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) to reunify children placed in their homes with their biological families, IDHW will complete a dual foster/adoption home study for you at no charge as part of the foster care licensing process. Again, this route is only for those families who plan to become licensed foster homes with an expectation of taking placements of children in their home with the goal of reunifying those children with their families. Providing general foster care does not guarantee that a child placed in your home will at some point become available for adoption, however becoming a general foster home does provide an IDHW home study that can be used if, while providing general foster care, you later identify a waiting child through the Wednesday’s Child Program that may be a good adoptive fit for your family. This is not the correct path for you if your sole goal is adoption from foster care. If you are interested in providing general foster care, you can inquire at www.fosteringidaho.org. You are also invited to attend a foster care informational meeting. The following is a link to find info meetings in your area http://www.icwrtc.org/events/info-meetings.
IDHW has limited licensing resources available and unfortunately at this time cannot complete the home study process for families who do not wish to become a general foster home and are interested only in adopting from foster care. For families whose intent is solely to adopt from foster care, the next step is to complete a home study with an adoption agency or a Certified Adoption Professional (CAP). Below, you will find a link to a statewide list of providers who have been approved by IDHW for adoption home studies.
For information on Certified Adoption Professionals, go to the section titled “What is an adoption home study” and click on the link in the last line at the bottom of that section.
As fees and timeframes can vary greatly, we recommend that you contact several home study providers to determine the one that will best meet your needs. In general, private home study costs through a CAP (Certified Adoption Professional) average approximately $800-$1,200. Home Study costs through a private adoption agency can be significantly higher, as they may provide you with more services than the basic home study. IDHW does have a program in place that may reimburse you up to $2,000 in costs related to you paying for your home study and other expenses IF that home study is at some point used to finalize the adoption of an Idaho child in foster care.
For families interested in adoption only, completing your home study is all that you need to do for now, until/unless you are directed by an IDHW caseworker to complete other tasks.
If you are interested in adoption only through foster care and do not plan to become a general foster home, we ask that you please do not sign up for PRIDE classes, unless directed to do so directly by the IDHW caseworker of a child that you have inquired about. These classes are required for families licensing as a general foster home and space is limited, therefore we need to ensure that space is readily available for the foster families who need the training in order to license. If at some point you are matched for an adoption of a waiting child through our program, and the child’s IDHW caseworker is moving forward in the process of having that child placed in your home, the caseworker will ensure that you are enrolled in PRIDE training when the time is right.
Once your Idaho Wednesday’s Child inquiry regarding a specific child or sibling group is received, it will be forwarded on to the child’s Permanency (adoption) caseworker along with your contact information you provided. The caseworker will assess all inquiries that come in and will generally only be in touch with you if they would like more information about your family and if they feel that you may be a potential good match for the child. Please note that it may take several weeks before you hear back from the child’s caseworker. Unfortunately, the Idaho Wednesday’s Child Program is unable to provide you with further personal information about the child and though we do our best to let all of our inquiring families know the status of their inquiry, we are unable to ensure that you will hear back from a caseworker. If you have not heard back from a child’s caseworker within a few weeks’ time after your initial inquiry, it is most likely that they have determined that your family is not the best fit for the child you inquired about, but have been unable to be in touch due to other obligations. If this occurs, please feel free to let us know and we will follow up for you to determine the status of your inquiry.
As inquiries are received for our waiting children, the child’s caseworker will assess each inquiring family’s home study, if they have one completed, as well as the information provided in the inquiry form that you submit for the child. The child’s Permanency Team will be looking for characteristics of an inquiring family that would be a good match for the child. Some of the things they are assessing include your family make-up; whether your home is rural or you live in town; whether you have a completed home study; how much experience, information or knowledge you have regarding the needs of children who have gone through significant trauma, grief and loss; whether you reside in or near the child’s current community; whether your parenting style is a good match for the child and whether you have things in common with the child that would make for a good fit.
If the child’s Permanency Team finds that you may be a potential good fit for the child, they will contact you to learn more about your family, and to further discuss the child’s needs. Please note that further detailed personal information about the child can generally only be shared with families who already possess a completed and approved adoption home study, due to the child’s right to privacy and the confidentiality of their personal information.
Once a determination has been made that a family is a potential good match for a child, the process of the family getting to know the child begins. This process generally has no set timeframe and how it will move forward is decided upon by the child’s caseworker based upon the child’s needs.
Not every child in foster care will need an adoptive family. Most children in foster care are eventually reunited with their parents or other biological family members. Though there are a large number of children in foster care in Idaho, most of these children already have a permanency plan in place. Some children who cannot reunify with family may end up being adopted by the foster family who are their current caregivers. Children who may not have other family members or other supports in place who can become a permanent option for them, often end up benefiting from the efforts of the Idaho Wednesday’s Child Program to help them find their Forever Family.
Not every family who inquires about a child will be the right match for that child. The child’s Permanency Team has a great deal of knowledge concerning that child’s emotional, behavioral, educational, developmental, social, relational and medical needs. All of these things are weighed heavily when determining whether or not an inquiring family is the right adoptive family for the child. Sometimes a family may believe that they would be a great match for the child, given the information they know about the child that is shared publicly on our Idaho Wednesday’s Child website. Often, underneath the information we are able to share with you in our public format, lies a great deal of information about the child’s needs that cannot be shared for all to see. Though it is difficult to understand the process at times, each child’s Permanency Team makes decisions based upon what they have determined to be in the best interest of both the child and of our inquiring families.
We understand that the wait involved in adopting from foster care can be lengthy and frustrating at times. The initial inquiry process can take several weeks before a connection can be made between an inquiring family and the Permanency Team of a Waiting Child. Once that connection is made, it also takes time for the team to get to know more about your family in order to determine whether or not your family is a good fit for the child you are interested in. While much of the wait is an inevitable part of the process, we would love to help you make the best use possible of your wait time by providing resources which will assist you in garnering as much important information as possible pertaining to the potential needs of your future adopted child. Learning as much as you possibly can about how childhood trauma can affect the social, emotional, medical, behavioral and academic needs of our children who come from hard places will give your family a great head start on understanding the needs of the child you hope to adopt.