When we find out we’re going to have a baby, we begin preparing for the baby. There’s a room to decorate, baby gear to buy, birthing classes to take, and we gasp wondering how we’ll get it all done in 9 months. Becoming a foster or adoptive parent is a lot like being pregnant. There’s a room to get ready, supplies to buy, foster/adoptive classes to take, paperwork to fill out, and we gasp wondering how we’ll get it all done. Break the process down into a few steps and it’s really quite easy though!
The first step is to attend an Orientation. Here you’ll learn about the basic requirements and supports available, how kids come into care, the different types of licenses you can get, and more. You’ll be provided information on the agencies available to work with. Orientations are hosted by the individual agencies as well as through collaborative organizations such as KIDS in Maricopa County, FACT in Pima County, and FAN in Northern Arizona.
After Orientation, you’ll select an agency. You will contact several agencies, ask questions, and make a decision about who you want to work with. Similar to choosing an obstetrician, choosing an agency is about who you feel comfortable with, who provides the services you are looking for, and who you are ready to get very personal with. The next step varies a bit depending on the agency but will consist of an intake, by phone or in-person, where they assess your family and home to make sure you meet the basic requirements of the State, and any additional requirements they have as an agency.
Following the intake, the agency will start the background check process. You’ll provide information and permission needed to do a DCS background check and you’ll schedule an appointment to get fingerprinted. When the background checks and fingerprinting are complete, then the agency can register you for training.
While you’re in training, 33 hours of PSMAPP and RPPS, plus CPR/First Aid as a minimum, your agency will be working on your home study. You’ll submit dozens of documents, complete interviews with your Licensing Worker, and have a home inspection.
Once you’ve completed training, passed your home inspection, and your home study has been submitted then it’s just a matter of a few weeks until the State issues your license and you’re open to accept children!
The key to becoming a foster or adoptive parent is to take a deep breath, break it down one step at a time, and know that the agency is there to support you every baby step along the way. It’s daunting at first, but parenthood in any form has its moments of feeling overwhelming and yet we gladly choose it day after day!
Michelle Lunka, M.S., LAMFT