Adoption is a legal process; however, it is also a social and emotional process. More than 100,000 children and youth in foster care are waiting to be adopted, and many exit care without permanent connections. Children and youth ages 12 and up—especially those who are African American or American Indian/Alaska Native—are less likely to be adopted or return to their families than other children and youth.

Adoption from foster care differs from other types of adoption because of the processes involved and children in care have all experienced loss and trauma. By learning about trauma, adoptive parents can support a child’s permanency and well-being.

While reunification is the primary permanency goal for children in foster care, adoption can be a concurrent goal. Foster families, including relatives or fictive kin, should support concurrent permanency goals. If reunification is not possible, adoption is preferable. 

Families that adopt from foster care can benefit from subsidies and support services before and after adoption. Child welfare professionals can help navigate these processes by connecting children, youth, and families with services. Trauma- and adoption-competent services help families develop skills and build a support network.

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