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Learn How to Adopt Through Foster Care

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Adopting through foster care is a rewarding and life-changing event for children and their permanent families.

Currently, there are approximately 350 children in Tennessee foster care who are eligible to be adopted by a permanent family. Their profiles can be found at Tennessee’s photo-listing website, the Heart Gallery of Tennessee and at Parent a Child.

Many other children are also in need of loving foster parents.

About 80 percent of the children adopted from foster care are adopted by people who are already foster parents. Tennessee’s practice is to work with individuals who sign up to become foster parents. If a child in the custody of the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) becomes available for adoption, the family caring for that child is the first option for adoption.

In Tennessee, there are also approved private agencies that work with the DCS to train and support families to care for children in foster care. They also train families to care for children in specialized foster homes. The specialized homes serve children who have higher needs that require special attention.

Tennessee wants to keep children in a family-like environment. The DCS also tries to keep siblings together.

If you are interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent, call 877-DCS-KIDS (877-327-5437) or visit the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services website for more information.

Here are some key elements about the foster care and adoption process:

Moving toward Adoption

To be selected to adopt a child who is in full guardianship of the DCS, you will need to get a formal home study by a licensed child-placing agency. The home study process is a combination of education for you about the realities of adoption, and information about you and your family.

You can then submit the home study for a specific child. You may have identified the child via the Heart Gallery of Tennessee or Adopt US Kids, for example.

For more information on the DCS foster to adopt program, click here.

PATH Training

When you have been identified as an adoptive parent for a child, and you have agreed to parent that child, you will then receive PATH (Parents as Tender Healers) training. PATH is a required education and self-assessment process. Whether you want to provide a temporary home for children in need or have the goal of adoption, PATH training will help prepare you.

Kinship Adoption

Many children in foster care are adopted by a relative or a family friend. Getting placed with relatives or kin is often the first foster care option when children can’t remain in their parents’ home or be reunited with them. Getting placed with family or family friends can be a plus for children who are already dealing with change.

Kinship foster parents receive training just as traditional foster parents do. Kinship foster parents are encouraged to remain active in foster care even after the child they are caring for is permanently placed in their family.

For more information on kinship adoption, visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway.

How a Child Becomes Your Child

Based on the child's needs, the child's team will make a decision about a permanent family. People selected as possible parents receive a lot of information about the child so they can make a decision about whether they can parent the child. Remember that children are placed with the family best able to meet their needs.

Watch this video to learn more about the foster to adoption experience:

Additional Resources

Find a list of resources and helpful websites for foster parents.

Get information on four organizations that can help during or after the adoption process.

To learn more about adopting a child who is already in full guardianship of the state of Tennessee, click here.

If you would like to become a foster parent, please review the TNFosters website.

For more information, please call 877-DCS-KIDS (877-327-5437).