I think it’s common for people to get to the point where they have thought about and prayed about fostering and adoption, they have made the decision to move forward…and then, they get stuck not knowing what to do next. Let me just tell you…it’s not your fault! There’s not just a ton of information out there telling you what to do next right? So I want to help. I hope this post answers some of your questions on what to do next.
STEP 1: Pray some more. Yes, you’ve prayed, but don’t stop. This is a long process, and it won’t be easy. There will be a few (ok, maybe even a lot) of moments where you will be unsure about what you’ve signed up for. In those moments, you need to know God’s will for your family. So keep praying through this process and don’t stop.
STEP 2: Look up THE CALL. Yes, you can go through DHS, and that’s fine. But, there is just no comparison for support and for spiritual guidance through this process. You need praying people around you. I urge you to go through a faith-based organization. In Arkansas, you can’t beat The CALL. If you are in another state, do a little internet research to find a faith-based organization who can train you and support you on the journey.
STEP 3: Attend an Informational Meeting. This is the first “real” step in becoming a foster/adoptive parent. At this meeting, you will get vital information about fostering/adoption, and you will get your first paperwork packet. I want to stress here though, that these meetings are seriously low pressure. You will not get a call, you will not get a guilt trip….you can literally walk out the door and never say another word about it, and no one will ever think a thing about it. So, don’t feel like this is like the “jump in” point. For many families, it’s more of a “get your toes wet” type step. The CALL always lists their upcoming meetings in the right sidebar of their website.
STEP 4: Turn in your paperwork. After the informational meeting, you will leave with your first batch of paperwork. You can fill this out and turn it in the next day, or you can hang on it to it, pray some more, and turn it in a few months later. It’s totally your decision and again, absolutely no pressure.
STEP 5: Fingerprints and initial interview. Once you get your paperwork turned in, you’ll be scheduled to get your fingerprints done. The CALL will help you get this scheduled. Then, an initial interview will be set up at your home with a caseworker. This is a super low-key interview. So, don’t stress!
STEP 6: Training & Paperwork. By this point, you’ll have a feel for what’s going on, and you’ll have people supporting you and helping you get there. The training will be excellent. You will learn a lot. It won’t fully prepare you for what’s ahead, but nothing will. On the job training is the best teacher in the world of foster care/adoption. The paperwork will seem endless, but don’t worry, it will end! You’ll get to the bottom of the pile eventually. And at the bottom of that pile is a child or children who need your family!
It’s not an easy process, but it’s worth it. There will be plenty of frustrations and weariness, but you’ll get there! Surround yourself with people who encourage you and support what you are doing. Find someone who has been through the process to support you and walk you through it as well. And the best advice I could ever give…keep praying. I can still remember times when we were stuck in the paperwork process. It was so frustrating! But, now that we are on the other side of the paperwork and we have our little guy with us, I can see where our delays fit perfectly into his story. God chose him for us, and all the hold-ups that we viewed as a nuisance at the time turned out to be absolutely perfect timing in the story of how God made us a family.
You’ve made a great decision to foster or adopt.