Vol. 19, No. 1 • November 2014

A reader asks . . .
What should I tell people interested in foster care and adoption in NC?

When people learn I am a foster parent they ask how they can help children in North Carolina through foster care and adoption. What should I tell them? Where should I direct them?

Great question! Foster and adoptive parents are the absolute best recruiters of new foster and adoptive parents.

First, feel free to share your story and the path that brought you to being a foster or adoptive parent, including the agencies you have worked with.

Be realistic but positive when recruiting new families. Share positive stories about the children you have loved and cared for, highlighting the significant need for families who can love children unconditionally.

You can also help dispel myths. For example, make it clear you do not have to be married or own your own home to foster and adopt. There is no age limit once you are 21 years old. Families can say "no" to a placement that is not a good fit.

If a family is interested, their first step should be to call an agency or attend a local orientation. Most agencies hold regular orientation meetings where families can meet staff and learn about next steps and requirements.

Making this first contact is a big step. Many families think about fostering or adopting for years before acting. You can provide support by offering to attend orientation with the family. Or, even better, offer to help your agency's orientation: talk about your experience, serve coffee, or just answer questions after the meeting. Prospective parents really want to talk to real foster parents, not social workers!

The booklet "You Don't Have to be Perfect to be a Perfect Parent" is also a super resource. Foster parent associations, agencies, or individuals can request copies by emailing [email protected] or downloading it from http://bit.ly/1s8J1fP.

The NC Kids program is a key resource for families interested in adoption. It provides basic information about becoming a foster and adoptive parent. NC Kids can be found online (www.adoptnckids.org) and by phone (877-NCKIDS-1).

There is also a short, self-paced orientation online at http://ncswlearn.org/foster. It explains foster care, describes the children in need of families, and tells you how to take the next step to becoming a licensed foster parent in our state.

We all have a responsibility to recruit new foster and adoptive families, sharing the need throughout our communities. Foster and adoptive parents are the best possible recruiters and we are so grateful for your ongoing help caring for children in foster care!

Response by the NC Division of Social Services. If you have a question about foster care or adoption in North Carolina you'd like answered in "A Reader Asks," send it to us using the contact information found here.

~ Family and Children's Resource Program, UNC-CH School of Social Work ~