Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

How can I adopt a child through foster care?

The process for adopting a child through foster care in Utah is different from adopting privately or through an agency. Those who plan to adopt can consider all options before making a decision as to which method is best for them.

Children in foster care often come from abusive or otherwise unhealthy home environments. The state takes them in temporarily while they try to find them a safe, permanent home. In some cases, the child may be able to return home after their family meets certain requirements. However, in many cases, families interested in adopting a foster child can adopt a waiting child or foster-to-adopt.

Adopting a waiting child is the best option for many families. A "waiting child" is a child over the age of seven who has most likely been in foster care for longer than a year. The court has likely determined that the child's biological home is no longer an option and will sever the biological parents' legal rights. Therefore, if a family takes in a waiting child, adoption becomes much easier after a certain period of time.

Another option is to foster-to-adopt. Foster parents can take a child in as a foster, but eventually adopt them. The Utah Division of Child & Family Services makes sure to place children who are 5-years-old or younger with families who want to adopt. This protects young children from having to bounce from home to home. In some cases, the family will agree in advance to adopt a foster child if the child cannot return to their biological parents and will sign a Legal Risk Placement agreement with the State.

Adopting a child through the foster care system can be difficult for many families. A qualified family law attorney can help you navigate the process and help make your family whole.

Source: Utah Foster Care, "How to Adopt thru Foster Care," accessed on June 19, 2017

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