There are many paths to adoption in Texas. One way to build or grow a family is through foster-to-adoption. As the name suggests, this is when a child starts their journey in foster care and is eventually adopted by their foster parents.
Upbring Foster in Texas (FIT) works with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to find loving forever families for children whose parents’ rights have been terminated because of abuse or neglect. Here Erika Noriega, Upbring Area Director for Foster Care and Adoption, answers nine common questions about how to adopt through foster care in Texas.
How common is it to adopt from foster care?
Many families who foster with Upbring are licensed for “foster-to-adopt.” That means they are open to adopting the child(ren) they foster, if the child is eligible for adoption or becomes eligible. Therefore, many children we place in foster care are adopted by their foster parents. In 2021, Upbring facilitated more than 110 adoptions from foster care statewide.
How long does the foster-to-adoption process take?
The foster-to-adoption process in Texas typically takes between 6 and 18 months, and sometimes longer. Remember that foster care is meant to be temporary. The ultimate goal is for children to safely reunite with their birth parents, so we need to allow ample time for that process.
According to state law, a family must foster a child for at least 6 months before adopting them. If at that point the birth parents are still progressing toward their goals of providing a safe home for the child, the courts may extend the timeline. By the 18-month mark, it usually becomes clear if adoption will be a possibility. The foster parents can also request an extension if they feel they need more time before proceeding with adoption.
This is one reason it is important for foster parents to be flexible and patient. You can’t predict if or when children will reunite with their birth parents. Also, there is always a chance another family member will want to care for the child.
That’s why I encourage foster parents to show children the love and support they need right now, in this moment. No matter how things turn out, you will have a positive impact on that child’s life. You’ll always share a special connection with the child.
How can someone prepare to foster and adopt?
If you are interested in adopting from foster care, keep an open mind. No matter how you become a parent, it’s common to envision the child or children who will join your family. But life seldom turns out exactly as we had planned—and that’s often a good thing!
At Upbring, we consider the unique needs of each child and family and try to place children in homes where they are most likely to thrive. However, an important compatibility factor is determining which expectations are truly non-negotiable and which ones aren’t.
Fostering and adopting are rewarding experiences, for sure. But like all parenting, there are hard parts too. High or unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment and a breakdown of the family unit.
Is it possible to adopt a baby from foster care?
While it is possible to adopt a baby from foster care, children who are eligible for adoption tend to be elementary-school age or older. There is joy in parenting every age, from infants to teens! The wider age range of children you’re willing to foster or adopt, the sooner a child will be placed with your family.
Can I adopt more than one child from foster care?
Children who are eligible for adoption are also more likely to be part of a sibling group. Whenever possible, we want to keep siblings together and preserve those important relationships. So if you’re able to care for more than one child, definitely let us know! You could help a group of siblings heal from their family trauma together.
How much does foster-to-adoption cost in Texas?
Adopting from foster care is generally free for foster and adoptive families because it is funded by the state of Texas and the DFPS. You may be responsible for some small fees, such as health and fire inspections of your home as well as fingerprinting during the background check process. If you adopt a child under the age of 6, you may also be responsible for legal fees.
You may receive ongoing support in the form of monthly adoption subsidies, Medicaid benefits and post-adoption services (see more below). Financial support makes adoption viable for many, but it is seldom a primary consideration. You do not need to be wealthy to foster or adopt a child!
What effect does trauma have on children?
Children who have experienced abuse and neglect are more likely to exhibit challenging behavior patterns or have special medical needs. It’s important to understand each child’s past trauma and how it influences them.
The effects of trauma vary from person to person and present differently depending on the age of the child. For example, a toddler who experienced trauma might have trouble sleeping or eating, or they may recreate traumatic experiences through play. A teenager with a history of trauma might express strong emotions over minor grievances or withdraw from friends and social situations.
Children in foster care come from hard places. They aren’t “bad kids”—they are kids who are processing deeply hurtful experiences. We need to meet all children where they are to help them get to a place of healing. When you foster and adopt with Upbring, you will receive training on everything from understanding their stage of childhood development to accommodating any special needs.
How else does Upbring support the foster-to-adoption process?
At Upbring, we pride ourselves on carefully matching children with their prospective foster and adoptive parents. I spend a lot of my days reviewing applications, referrals and evaluations to make these decisions. A good fit gives a child the greatest chance of healing.
Upbring also offers wraparound resources for families throughout the foster-to-adoption process. We host orientations for foster parents and guide them through the screening requirements. All Upbring foster parents receive hours of training on Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) and other critical topics. If adoption is the outcome, then we facilitate that and provide post-adoption services too. We will be by your side for as long as a child is in your care.
Our case workers and other professionals have expertise in human development and family systems. This expertise helps keep our kids safe and our families supported. We’re all on the same team—trying to create a safer, brighter future for Texas children and families.
What else do you want people to know about foster-to-adoption?
People often ask me what makes fostering or adoption successful. In my experience, the biggest predictor of success is perseverance. I am so moved by foster parents and adoptive parents who are willing to make things work, no matter what.
Adopting from foster care is about providing children with consistent support and a permanent anchor. It is hard, wonderful, exciting, scary, frustrating and enlightening—all at once! And it’s so, so worth it.
Right now, thousands of children in Texas are waiting for their forever families. Ready to jump in? Fill out the Upbring Foster In Texas interest form and we’ll be in touch!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erika Noriega, MS, CPMS, LCPAA, is the Upbring Area Director for Foster Care and Adoptions in San Antonio, Texas. She has more than a decade of experience working with foster care and adoption agencies.