Adopting a foster child through foster care is a long and emotional journey. It all begins when you become a foster parent.

Becoming a Foster Care Parent

Adopting through foster care is a very rewarding but also deeply demanding and difficult process. Just completing a single foster care adoption can take many years. Foster care adoption begins with becoming a foster parent.

Georgia’s Foster Care System: What You Need to Know

It is not the goal of the foster care to permanently separate families. Often, foster care is intended to be a temporary living situation. Children are removed from their home if their parent or guardian is unable to provide a safe environment for them to live. Sometimes this happens because of physical abuse, drug abuse or sexual abuse. Once a child is placed in foster care, biological parents are given many chances to be reunited with their children.

Since the goal of foster care is to provide the services and supports so that families can be successfully reunited, foster-adoption situations only take place when these initial goals have not been successful. As a result, in most cases, foster care adoptions take place after a child has been placed in foster care for a long time, and most parents who adopt a child from foster care have already been the foster parent for that child for months. In some cases, a child who is legally freed for adoption is placed in a new foster-adoption placement. Other times, foster care parents adopt their long-time foster children.

Like other states, Georgia’s foster care system is overloaded with cases, and a child’s time in foster care can be very long indeed. Several years ago, juvenile court laws were updated to limit the amount of time a child would stay in foster care. At that time, courts added attorneys to represent children. Of course, parents have separate representation, and a Guardian ad Litem is appointed for the Child. Sometimes, the sheer number of professionals involved in each case can slow down progress.

The opioid epidemic has vastly increased the numbers of children entering foster care, and August and September are peak months for intakes into foster care. Why? Because children are back in school and the teachers are mandated to report when/if they suspect abuse, neglect, hunger, excessive absences, etc.

Generational neglect and abuse is also a problem. Many children in the foster care system have parents were once in the system themselves. Foster parents do the best they can, but typically a child comes into their home requiring therapy, counseling, tutoring, complete medical and dental care, and other services.

How to Become a Foster Care Parent

Potential foster-adoption parents must go through the process of becoming certified as foster parents.  This is a long, intensive, invasive process that includes an extensive background check, mandated parenting classes and an extensive interview with a social worker. Foster care parents must provide references and have their home inspected for safety. Only once these steps are completed can a person become a certified foster parent.

Making a Placement

Certified foster care parents can specify which types of placements they want to accept.  For example, some foster parents specialize in fostering babies, others foster school-age children. Some foster care parents take in sibling groups, others want only boys or only girls. Some foster parents specialize in medically fragile children, others prefer short-term placements.

The Emotional Toll and Rewards of Foster Care

Some foster children only stay in a foster home for a few days or weeks, but some stay for years if the placement is successful. Many foster parents report that it is emotionally draining to pour love into a child who has been through trauma. Children who are placed in foster care sometimes arrive without ever having slept in a bed, or without ever having owned a tooth brush. Parents must train their foster children in the ways of their household culture, and often must teach their children basic habits like good hygiene and proper behavior.

Sometimes foster parents raise their foster child for many years and then must return that child to their birth family. This can be very hard for all parties involved.

Supporting a Foster Child

The day-to-day life of foster parents is incredibly demanding. In addition to loving and caring for a child who has experienced trauma, foster children often have a higher than average number of appointments: visitation with biological family, therapy appointments and social worker check-ins. School-age foster children also must manage academic demands that can take up a tremendous amount of time.

Foster parents receive a subsidy from the state to cover the cost of caring for their foster children, but the subsidy is often not enough to cover the ultimate costs of caring for a child. Often, fostering a child involves time away from work, the cost of gas, money for groceries and even the cost of various therapies and interventions. While it is not necessary to be wealthy or even middle class to be a successful foster parent, it’s important to understand before beginning that fostering a child often involves a personal cost that is not recovered.

Rewards of Fostering a Child

Despite these challenges, many parents report that being a foster parent is incredibly rewarding. Foster parents play a crucial role in the life of a child who desperately needs love, safety and stability after the trauma of being removed from their family. Whether they are able to adopt their foster child or their foster child is returned to their biological family, many foster parents are forever changed by their experience.

Seek Help From An Adoption Lawyer

In the next post, we’ll cover how to adopt a child out of foster care, and we’ll discuss more about foster care adoption. If you’re interested in foster care adoption, now is the time to connect with a skilled and experienced adoption attorney. At the law offices of Judy D. Sartain in Gainesville, Georgia, you’ll get sound legal advice and assistance through the foster care adoption process. Don’t start your foster care adoption without talking to an attorney. To find out more, contact us for a consultation. Call 770-654-0433, or send an email to, or visit our website,

Best regards –
Judy D Sartain
Fellow, Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys
Fellow, Georgia Council of Adoption Lawyers
(770) 654-0433
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