How Old Are Kids Who Are in Foster Care?

foster care and public agency adoptionThere are currently hundreds of thousands of children in the foster care system. Their reasons for being in the system are as widely varied as their ages, which can range from infancy all the way through the age of 18 (or 21, depending on the state). Their stories can be heartbreaking; each foster child has experienced some kind of event in their lives that necessitated their inclusion in the foster system. Getting involved in the foster care system means that you can help some of these children to have a better, brighter future, whether or not you end up adopting them.

Choosing to Foster

Kids are kids, whether they’re in the foster care system or not. Foster kids need stability just as much as any other child (and possibly even more so), no matter their age. Giving these children a chance at a normal home and family life often means the difference between happiness and a lifetime of doubt.

Different Fostering Situations

Children who enter into the foster care system may not always be eligible for adoption. About half of foster children are reunited with their families after their situation changes. Another quarter of foster children end up being adopted by their foster parents, while the remaining children may exit the system, never having been adopted or reunited with their caregivers.

While it can be very attractive to foster and adopt younger children through public agency adoptions, it’s important to remember that older children need familial support to avoid poor outcomes like homelessness, lack of education, and unemployment.

Adoption through Foster Care

Foster care is a different route to accomplishing the goal of adding a member (or two or three!) to your family. Public agency adoptions often start out with a fostering situation, where the agency assists in placing the child in the foster home and then helps the family through the rest of the steps to complete the adoption. However, not every foster situation ends up being a good fit for adoption. This happens a bit more often with older children than with younger ones, as older children and teens may have greater difficulty adjusting to a new family. This can cause stress among family members beyond just their relationship with the fostered child. For this reason, and many others, some families are focused on taking in younger children. The unfortunate side effect of this is that many older children never find a permanent home, and age out of the system without any familial support.

Adopting Sibling Groups

In situations where sibling groups are involved, the prevailing wish is to keep that group together. Separating siblings can have enormous detrimental impacts, so it’s avoided as often as possible. Being willing to foster and adopt a sibling group can have huge impacts on each of the children, and sibling groups are placed together permanently whenever there’s an appropriate home and family for them.

Getting Help from an Adoption Attorney

Regardless of the age of the child you’re fostering, if your goal is adoption, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a professional. Adoption, whether through a public agency or a private one, requires a lot of information and much patience. At Jennifer Fairfax, Family Formation Law Offices, we’re ready to help you through the process of growing your family through adoption. Contact us today for information about public agency adoptions, private agency adoptions, fostering, and more.

For more information about foster care and public agency adoption, click here.



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“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax