In Georgia, there are several ways to approach foster parenting. Some foster parents may only want to open their home to children needing temporary placement; others may be interested in becoming a permanent placement by adopting a child they welcomed through foster care.
If you would like to know more about what it means to foster to adopt, let’s dive into this facet of foster care and provide the details needed to consider this route.
What Is Foster Care?
Foster care is a system designed to protect children currently living in unsafe environments. When a minor under the age of 18 is found to be experiencing abuse, neglect, or other dangers at home, Georgia’s Department of Family and Child Services will remove them from the home to preserve their safety. The child will then enter the foster care system and temporarily live with an approved foster parent until permanent placement is arranged.
During the child’s placement in foster care, the foster parent(s) and the birth parent(s) are expected to participate in partnership parenting, where they work together to maintain the child’s connection to their family. This parenting model helps nurture the child’s bond with their birth parent(s) while they all work together toward reunification.
What Is Reunification?
Foster care is not intended to separate a parent from their child permanently—the end goal is always to reunite the child with their biological parents if it is safe and in the best interest of the child. Reunification is the process of addressing and resolving the issues that caused the child to be removed so the child may return to a safer, more stable home life.
Sometimes, Reunification Is Not Possible
While the system always strives to end a child’s journey in foster care with reunification with their biological family, the state still must plan for what to do if reunification is not possible. Every child who enters foster care is assigned to a case worker who, in addition to many other duties, must create a comprehensive permanency plan for the child. This plan includes a pathway to the child’s original home if reunification is possible and backup plans if it is not possible. Alternative outcomes can involve the child living with approved family members or becoming available for adoption.
In cases where reunification is not going to occur, the biological parents are usually either not willing or able to do what needs to be done to regain custody of their child safely. Either the parent(s) will voluntarily terminate their parental rights to the child, or a judge will remove their rights if they believe reunification would be too dangerous. Should the parent(s) rights be terminated, the child will then be considered a waiting child, or one who is available for adoption.
Fostering to Adopt
There are several types of foster care an individual or family can pursue, which include:
- Traditional foster care – temporary placement for a child or children.
- Resource parenting – temporary placement with a family who is available and open to the possibility of adopting.
- Relative, kinship, and non-related kin care – temporary placement where the fostering family is a family member or friend.
- Emergency foster care – short-term placement for a child who has been removed from their home but not yet placed with a foster family.
- Specialized foster care – temporary placement for children who have mental, physical, or behavioral disabilities.
Resource parenting, in particular, is the route for parents who are interested in adopting through foster care. Those who choose to become resource parents undergo both foster-focused and adoptive-focused training so they are better positioned to pursue the adoption of a child they have welcomed through foster care.
In Georgia, the training required to become a foster parent positions you to pursue adoption if the circumstances allow for it and you have the desire to do so. Parents who are primed to foster to adopt can welcome:
- Foster children whose path to reunification looks promising
- Foster children whose path to reunification could go either way
- Foster children whose path to reunification does not seem likely
- Waiting children, or those whose biological parents no longer have legal parental rights
As a potentially adoptive parent, you are not obligated to pursue adoption for any viable foster or waiting child who enters your home. However, you are better positioned to pursue adoption if you would like to.
Georgia’s Foster Children Need Families Like Yours – Discover More About Fostering or Fostering to Adopt With Generational Child Care.
You can make a difference in a child’s life in Georgia by becoming a foster parent or discovering more about adoption. We currently have over 11,000 children in the foster care system but only about 4,700 licensed foster families. If you want to open your home to a foster child in Georgia, talk to our team today. We will provide you with the information, guidance, resources, and support you need throughout your parenting journey. Contact us today at 478-477-1289.