According to the 2013 Adoption Attitudes Survey funded by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, 24 percent of American adults have considered adoption. That translates into more than 76 million Americans. If only 1 out of 500 of them adopted out of the foster care system, the estimated 100,000 children currently in foster care in the United States who are adoptable would have a forever family.
Here are five myths about adoption from foster care and the truth about that misinformation.
MYTH: All foster care children have some kind of physical, mental or emotional handicap; that’s why they are classified as “special needs.”
FACT: The term “special needs” is somewhat misleading because it can mean that the child is older, a minority or requires placement with his/her siblings. While some children are dealing with physical or emotional concerns, just like other children, they need the nurturing and support that a permanent family can provide. Many foster children are in the “system” because their birth parents weren’t protective and nurturing caretakers — not because the children did anything wrong.
MYTH: Adopting a child from foster care is expensive.
FACT: Adopting children from foster care is virtually free while private or international adoptions can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $30,000 or more. When adopting from the Alabama Department of Human Resources, the department charges no fees for the adoption home study (which includes 30 hours of training) nor for the placement of children. Expenses are generally limited to the costs of criminal history record checks and obtaining medical exams on all household family members. To help adoptive families, a growing number of companies and government agencies offer adoption assistance as part of their employee benefit packages, including time off for maternity/paternity leave, financial incentives and other benefits. In addition, Congress has made federal tax credits available for foster care adoptions to help offset required fees, court costs and expenses. Better than tax deductions, tax credits reduce tax owed rather than taxable income. In 2016 the maximum adoption tax credit is $13,460 for families who earn less than $201,920 annually. More information is available in the IRS Publication 968 “Tax Benefits for Adoption” or IRS Publication 607 “Adoption Credit and Adoption Assistance Programs.”
MYTH: There are not enough loving families available who want to adopt a foster child.
FACT: Many prospective adoptive parents may initially want to adopt an infant, often because they are unaware that there are older children who also need families. When they learn about an older child available for adoption, they often “fall in love” and realize the enormous impact they can have on that child’s life. Older children can share their feelings about joining a new family, helping to make the adoption and transition process successful.
MYTH: Adoptive parents must be “perfect” parents.
FACT: Prospective adoptive parents do not have to be rich, married, own a home or be of a certain race or age to become an adoptive parent. One-third of adoptions from foster care are by single parents. Patience, a good sense of humor, a love of children and the commitment to be a good parent are the most important characteristics.
MYTH: There’s too much red tape and bureaucracy involved in adopting a child from foster care.
FACT: Congress has streamlined the foster care adoption process through enactment of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. This law ensures that children in foster care who cannot be reunited with their birth parents are freed for adoption and placed with permanent families as quickly as possible.
For more information about adoption, visit www.nationaladoptionday.org. (TAB)
Who are ‘special needs’ children?
•Any child age five or older.
•Children with a background of parental substance abuse, mental illness or mental retardation that places them at risk.
•Children with various degrees of mental, physical or emotional problems.
•A sibling group of two or more placed at the same time with the same family.
To read more on adoption, click here.
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