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Debunking The Myths About Foster Care Adoption

Almost 13,000 children were in Georgia's foster care system in 2021. Although many of these children were reunited with their families, for thousands more, reunification could not be achieved. Every child deserves a loving and permanent home, and there are many children in foster care waiting for such a home. The national average for the time that a child spends in foster care is three years. Studies show that long-term foster care can have a detrimental effect on a child's emotional and psychological development. Moreover, children in foster care are often moved from foster home to foster home, and this interrupts the development of adult and peer relationships.

Many children age out of the foster care system without having been adopted. Of the children that age out of the foster care system, many are ill-equipped for the transition into adulthood. Studies such as that conducted by Chapin Hall of the University of Chicago consistently show that children who age out of the foster care system are more likely than their non-foster care peers to end up homeless, jobless, incarcerated, and pregnant.

There are ways to combat long-term foster care such as disseminating information about the children in foster care and dispelling some of the common myths about adoption in general and foster care adoption in particular. Some common myths are:

Myth 1: There are no orphans in the United States. Currently, there are about 118,000 children in U.S. foster care waiting for an adoptive home.

Myth 2: You have to be married to adopt a child. You do not have to be married to adopt a child in the State of Georgia. If you are single and not a relative of the child, you must be at least 21 years of age and at least ten years older than the child. However, if you are a relative of the child to be adopted, the ten-year rule does not apply.

Myth 3: You have to make a lot of money and own a home. You do not have to own a home to adopt a child. Moreover, you do not have to be wealthy or make a lot of money to adopt a child, but you must be financially able to provide for the needs of the child.

Myth 4: It costs a lot of money to adopt a child from foster care. In most instances, there is little to no costs associated with adopting a child from foster care. Many children in foster care qualify for state adoption assistance to cover the court costs and attorney fees. Whether the child to be adopted is in foster care or not, there are tax credits for adopting a child, and some employers and the military offer financial and other adoption assistance and/or reimbursements.

Myth 5: All children in foster care have emotional or psychological issues. Most children in foster care are normal children who only need love and stability. Some of them have been abused, but others have been neglected or have entered foster care because their caregiver has passed away, was sentenced to incarceration, or suffered a catastrophic illness that prevents caring for a child.

Myth 6: You have to be of child-bearing age to adopt a child. You do not have to be young to adopt a child. Many children who are adopted from foster care, are adopted by people with adult children.

For more information about becoming a foster parent or adopting a child in foster care, contact your local Department of Family and Children Services. You may also contact our office for legal assistance with adoption.

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