How Can I Help Children?
The Baby Fold provides adoption services to children of all ages, their birth family members, and their adoptive parents, throughout the lives of the individuals involved. Adoption provides permanent homes for children who are unable to have that permanence with their own birth families. Most children in need of adoptive homes have been in foster homes; many require a range of therapeutic services to help them build trusting relationships with adults and succeed in adoptive placements. The Baby Fold also works with birth parents of newborn infants when those birth parents wish to make an adoption plan for their children.
CHILDREN IN NEED OF ADOPTIVE HOMES
Children of all ages, races, and religions are in need of adoptive homes. Infants may be in need of adoptive homes because the birth parents do not feel that they can currently meet the needs of the child. In this instance, birth parents can make an adoption plan for their child’s adoptive placement. When making this plan, birth parents receive counseling on options, including whether to parent, to ensure that they are making an informed decision.
Other children available for adoption enter the child welfare system because of a situation that resulted in the child’s placement in foster care. Most of the children receiving adoption services are in foster homes and are adopted by their foster parents. Many have experienced the effects of abuse, neglect, prenatal substance abuse, and separation from their birth families. Parents are given opportunities to correct the conditions that caused the child to enter foster care. When parents are not successful in having their children reunited with them, the Juvenile Court may terminate parental rights so that children can achieve permanence through adoption.
The Baby Fold gathers as much information as possible about children who are in need of adoptive homes in order to select families that will meet their needs. At their level of understanding, children receive counseling to help them understand why they cannot return to their birth families. Children and adoption workers work together to create "life books" for children that help prepare them for adoption. Many children in foster care who are adopted will be eligible for adoption assistance, which will provide ongoing financial support, medical coverage, and counseling services after the adoption is finalized. All adopted children in Illinois are eligible to receive free Adoption Preservation services until they are 18 years old.
Birth parents in the DCFS system receive counseling to help them understand options available to them so that they can make informed choices. Staff help them understand the importance of providing complete information about their family and medical background so that their child will have that information as they grow older. Birth parents that voluntarily surrender their parental rights are informed of their rights in regards to openness and are encouraged to discuss the legalities of this issue with an attorney, if possible. When parental rights have been terminated in Juvenile Court, birth parents do not usually have the opportunity for any ongoing contact with their children.
Adoptive parents must meet the requirements specified in the Illinois Adoption Act. Intensive training and support services are provided to prospective adoptive parents. They must become licensed and receive training to help them prepare for the challenges of adoptive parenting and understand adoption issues. Likewise, a home study must be completed and approved. The adoption worker assists adoptive parents with completing applications for Adoption Assistance for children who are eligible and prepares the adoptive home study and all the necessary documentation for the court so that the adoption can be finalized.