In order to adopt a child from a state agency, you will probably work directly with your state’s family services agency. In Texas, this is handled by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). There are methods for collaborating with groups such as United Way or other agencies that work in partnership with DFPS, and faith based organizations and private agencies. No matter your choice, though, potential foster/adoptive parents are required to complete a series Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education (PRIDE) training classes. The classes are designed to instruct potential parents on the very special requirements and needs of children adopted through the CPS system. You will also be given many resources to handle these situations, and meet mentors to assist you in difficult situations.
There were more than a few prospective parents that dropped out of the course at different stages. The course pulls no punches or softens the language. Parenting is not for the squeamish, but foster/adopting our kiddos can make cowards of us all. When a child is born addicted to cocaine you take special measures. A child has certain special needs when he has been beaten by his mother’s pimp. Many are capable of language and actions that could make a sailor blush. The intent of the workers and instructors in making us aware of this is twofold. Obviously you need to be aware of potential issues and how to manage situations. Secondly, and it cannot be stressed enough, some very good people are simply not cut out for this kind of parenting. In our class, some of those who left made their concerns public, some you could just tell were thrown off by the subject matter, and others just never returned. Those who continue through the training and become active in the foster and adoptive community are rewarded in ways that words just cannot describe.
In many ways it is hard for people to wrap their heads around, but the State has a very specific methods: they work for the safety and security of the child above all else, and their goal is to try to keep the biological family together as much as possible. DFPS is not an adoption agency, and they don’t work for the benefit of the adults. That’s not their mission. What they will do, though, is try their best to match a potential couple with children who need a forever family. Most of the time it works out, but the child’s needs are the primary concern. No matter the situation or circumstance, there are few things in life more traumatic than a child being legally removed from a parent. I would never defend a parent who puts a child in danger, but the child often doesn’t know any different. They only know that they will never see their biological mother or father again.
Texas has more than an abundance of children available for adoption. There are very many children in foster care who are waiting for a forever family. Many are children with special needs, but not all children have these challenges. It’s also important to put the term special needs placement into perspective. There are children with physical or emotional needs. Some children are part of a sibling group that need to be placed together, children of different ethnic backgrounds sometimes require special placement, and children because of their age can be considered special needs. Aging out of the foster care system presents an entirely new and difficult set of circumstances for the now young adult.
My wife and I had expressed an interest in adopting older children during the first weeks of the course. We did not require an infant or toddler, in fact we preferred a bit older. We certainly wouldn’t object to infants, but a search through the system opened our eyes to the amount of children from the ages of 4-16 that were in foster homes. It seems like everyone wants a newborn or an infant. We adopted two sets of siblings; one set ages 8 and 10 which we met during our course, the second, ages 4 and 7 a year later. There have been difficulties, but there are more than enough joys to imagine anything better or different. We encourage anyone to consider adopting through the State, and give those in need a loving home. Please click on the link and have a look at the children, and consider becoming a parent to these wonderful and very special kids.
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services