The children are in California’s foster care system. They range in age from birth to 21 years old. They may be part of sibling sets of two, three, four, or more. Children who are in foster care have experienced trauma in their lives, including, but not limited to, physical and sexual abuse, neglect, exposure to drugs and alcohol before birth. They are often behind or delayed developmentally and academically. They may have other challenges as a result of the trauma they have experienced.
The greatest need is for families to adopt older children. The vast majority of youth in the foster care system are older than nine years of age. Older youth in foster care are less likely to be adopted, and many age out of the system without a permanent family.
The process begins by attending an orientation where Family Builders can tell you about who the children are and what the steps are to become a foster or adoptive parent.
Next a social worker will come out to your home for a one-on-one visit with you and other family members. After this step, if the decision is made to move forward then you will complete all the required paperwork, document collection (we will walk you through this) and the training program. The training is three consecutive Saturdays and one evening.
Once you have completed all these steps you will then be matched with a child. You will meet the child and start visits with the child. The time frame for this part of the process varies often related to the age of the child, the proximity of their school and other factors.
If things are going well the child will be placed with you. The placement is a foster care placement. Social workers will visit your family regularly during this time. It then takes 9-18 months (usually) to then go to court and finalize the adoption.
It is important to remember that each child and each family will have unique needs and circumstances which means time frames can vary.
The length of time varies based on the time it takes to complete necessary appointments and gather documents. From application to completed home study usually takes six to nine months for the average prospective family.
Throughout the process, you will be asked about your preferences regarding the gender, ages and ethnicity of the children you want to foster or adopt. We will also assess your ability to work with the challenges, which are presented by children who have experienced trauma and have many needs. When your assessment/home study is complete, your social worker will identify children who match your preferences and whose needs match your family’s strengths. You can also access description and photos of children via California Kids Connection at www.cakidsconnection.com.
The county will provide information about the child to prospective foster and adoptive parents. This may include the child’s health and education history, the child’s placement and behavioral history, the reason for removal from the family, and may include relevant parental health history if known. Please know that there is often information about children that is simply not known.
Some children may continue to visit their birth parents until the court makes a decision to reunify the child with their parents or terminates the parents’ rights. The amount of contact that is best for a child depends on many factors, such as the child’s age, the prior relationships with parents and siblings, and the history of contact with extended family and other caregivers. Sometimes a post-adoption contract agreement is drafted. If siblings are not placed together with the same family, it is crucial that their sibling relationships be honored and respected. Foster and adoptive families need to prepare for and plan on ongoing sibling relationships and contact.
When the court has legally terminated the parents’ rights, the birth parents no longer have any legal relationship to the child. After an adoption is finalized, you have all the same rights as if the child were born to you.
Family Builders provides its services free of charge for families who are interested in fostering or adopting a child or sibling set from the foster care system. You will be asked to pay for your fingerprinting, CPR classes, and any necessary water safety classes, but some of these expenses may be reimbursable after an adoption is finalized.
We provide a monthly stipend while the child is in foster care in your home. If an adoption is finalized, the Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) helps with ongoing assistance until the child is 18. Medi-Cal health insurance is also provided until the child turns 18.
Yes. Although we work primarily with children who are waiting in California’s foster care system, we are able to help you with children from any state. This process, however, is more difficult because there are laws regarding the placement of children across state lines, and differing methods of funding.
No. We are licensed to work only with families in the ten Bay Area counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Marin and Yolo.
No. You do, however, need to be together for at least the past two years and demonstrate that your relationship is stable and committed.
No. You can only work with one agency at a time.
People with convictions for minor offenses which occurred in the distant past may be able to foster and adopt; each case is considered on an individual basis and dependent on state and federal regulations.
You do not have to have a driver’s license if you have a current California identification card and can demonstrate the ability to transport the child as necessary.
No. Family Builders does not provide international adoption services or private/domestic adoption services.