Adoption from foster care in Missouri works much like adoption through foster care in other states. First, a child must be put into the foster care system, which may happen because his or her parents are neglectful, physically abusive, abusing alcohol or drugs, or are unable to care for the child for some other reason. The goal when this happens is usually to reunite the biological parents with their child. A judge and case worker will provide the parents with a reunification plan and help them to work to provide a safe home for their child again. It’s only if the parents cannot follow this plan or fail to complete it that their parental rights will be terminated and the child will be legally eligible for foster care adoption.
At this point, the state generally attempts to seek a permanent family for the child with relatives. If no relatives are found — or no relatives are willing — the foster family the child has been staying with will usually have the next chance to adopt the child. Some families foster to adopt, so the foster family the child has been placed with may have been hoping for this all along. Other families are only able to provide temporary homes for foster children, in which case the state will move on to families who are hoping to adopt a foster child in Missouri.
Considering Adoption outlined an excellent plan for completing the fostering to adopt process, which is:
Determine your goals within the foster care system. Do you want to only foster parent, foster to adopt, or adopt from foster care without first having been a foster parent?
Contact a public adoption professional. (See below for links to Missouri foster care agencies.)
Complete pre-adoption parenting classes. These may come in the form of PS-MAPP (Permanence and Safety-Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting) or PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education.)
Complete an application, which will include information about your life and your experience with children. At this point, you will be required to allow child abuse and neglect checks as well as a background check.
Complete a home study, as you would for any form of adoption.
Wait for placement. If you’re interested in foster parenting, this may not take long; there are plenty of children that need foster homes. If you’re interested only in adopting from foster care, it may take slightly longer to be matched with a child.
The requirements for adopting from foster care in Missouri are different from those for private domestic adoption. To adopt a foster child in Missouri, you have to:
Have good physical health as well as mental health
Be 21 years old or older
Have a steady income
Live in a home (whether that’s an apartment, condominium or a house) that meets Missouri licensing standards
Complete child abuse and neglect checks as well as criminal record checks
Your marital status isn’t important to the state of Missouri; you can be single or married. Whether or not you have other children will also not affect your eligibility for adopting through foster care in Missouri.
It doesn’t cost anything to become a foster parent, and costs to adopt from the foster system in Missouri are minimal.
Of the 13,000 children in Missouri’s foster care system, 1,200 are eligible for adoption. There are multiple agencies that post Missouri adoption photolistings online. While location may be a factor for you as well, a few of those foster care adoption photolistings can be found at:
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