1. What’s the difference between foster care and adoption? Foster care is a temporary arrangement until a child can either be reunified with their birth family or placed with a permanent caregiver if reunification is not possible. Adoption is making a life long commitment to a child.
  2. Do I have to be married? You do not have to be married. You can be single, divorced, legally separated, or in a committed relationship.
  3. How long does it take to become a foster or adoptive parent? It takes four to six months to become a licensed foster or adoptive parent, although having a license does not guarantee an immediate placement. Well-trained, competent families are needed, so there is an in-depth training program and home-study process to complete.
  4. Why do we need training? Fostering and adopting is not the same as parenting a child born to you. Over time, you will need to talk with the child about his/her birth family or help the child manage his/her feelings about being adopted. The training provided helps you understand the unique needs of children in care and it will prepare you to help your children.
  5. How do children cope with leaving their biological family, even if they might have hurt them?  Some think that kids who have been abused will be grateful to be “rescued” and placed with another family. However, most kids really love and care about their birth families and want to return to their care. Even if they were abused, there were probably good times, too. One of the biggest challenges these children face is feeling that they have to “choose” or that one family is “better” than another. It takes patience, skill and training to help children understand that it is OK to care about all of our families and that families can be different.
  6. What does it cost to foster or adopt? There is no fee associated with foster or adoptive care. You may have to purchase items such as a fire extinguisher or pay for your doctor visit in order to become licensed to foster or approved as an adoptive family. There are also many resources to help cover certain costs. Foster parents receive a monthly payment to help cover the cost of the child’s food, clothing and personal allowance. Adopted children also qualify for an adoption subsidy. This allows for continued support from the State, even after the adoption is finalized.
  7. Do I have to own my own home? No. Foster parents may own, rent, or be in the process of buying a home, condo, or apartment. Families who rent must have their landlord’s permission to become foster parents. Your local municipality may also require an occupancy permit.
  8. As a foster parent, do I have a say as to which child is placed in my home? Yes. Foster parents specify the race, age, gender, and number of children they wish to care for. You have the option to decline a placement.
  9. Can I become a foster parent if I’m LGBT? Yes. Per Missouri Children’s Division policy, “a license will be issued to either married couples or a single individual. Only one license can be issued per household, so the license will be in one adult’s name. All adults in the household who will have child care responsibility will be required to attend state approved foster parent training. Personal information elicited during the home study include: Lifestyles and practices, including sexual orientation of the foster parent(s).” In Illinois, licensing standards say that licensees shall be either a single person or two persons in a marriage or civil union with each other.
  10. Are there income requirements for foster parents? No, but traditional foster parents need to have enough income to meet their own family’s needs. Foster parents receive monthly assistance. However, the first check will not come until a month or so after the child is placed in the home, so foster parents’ need adequate money in their budget to support their families and the new child/children until the reimbursement arrives.  The reimbursement amounts vary with the age of the child and whether or not there are special medical or behavioral needs.  Individuals receiving public assistance or who are on small or fixed incomes generally find it difficult to foster.  This could cause hardships for some families and is considered on a case by case basis.
  11. What have children being placed in my home gone through? Children in foster care have often been abused, neglected and exposed to domestic violence, substance abuse and community violence. They also face stressors of being removed from home. They have complex trauma histories and related emotional and behavioral problems. In addition, some children have special medical, physical and developmental needs present since birth or as a result of the trauma.