Who are Foster Families? Adoptive Families?

Families take many forms but the hope for all is that they are rooted in love and can provide a safe & stable environment for children.  All the different kinds of families listed below open their hearts and homes in order to support a child or children, sometimes when they are needed the most.

Basic Definitions:

Foster family:  A child becomes part of the foster care system when it has been determined that they are in an unsafe or neglectful environment.  Placement of a foster child is done through a state or social service agency.  In foster care, the child’s legal guardian (typically) maintains all parental rights for the child. Although these rights are managed by the state, they remain intact unless the child is placed for adoption. Placement with a foster family is considered temporary.

Adoptive family:  Adoption is a legal process where full custody and rights are granted to the adoptive parents. Care for the child is entirely the responsibility of the adoptive parent or parents and is considered permanent.  Adoptive parents may adopt children out of the fostercare system when parental rights are terminated.  They may also adopt children from agencies that work both domestically and internationally to find children in need of stable homes.

Biological families:  As the name suggests, biological families are ones in which the child or children is born into the family.  Many foster families remain in close contact with biological parents.

Kinship families:  These are families where children are living away from biological parents but with family members (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) or close family friends.  Kinship families may function temporarily or could lead to a long-term solution such as adoption.

Safe families:  These families provide temporary homes for children in danger of entering the foster care system.  This “early intervention” is intended to provide assistance who struggle with limited social support or lack extended family.

Support for Foster Families & Foster Children

Care Communities

If you or your parish would like to support a Catholic foster family, a simple method is by forming a care community. A care community is three or more families/individuals/couples who “wrap around” the foster family with emotional support (check-ins and encouragement) and/or tangible needs (dinner drop-offs, baby-sitting, etc.). Depending on the unique needs of each foster family and the particular gifts/talents of the members of the care community, the structure and feel of each community may look a little different. Yet, all care communities are committed to serving their foster family and to reminding them that their Catholic community supports them in this fundamentally pro-life ministry!

Ideally as the rapport grows between the foster family and the care community, the members of the community may be called to take a more active role in advocating for foster families at their parish or throughout the diocese. This may be through organizing events for Catholic foster families to meet each other or through offering service activities like back-to-school drives to support local foster children.

If you are a foster family who would like to be connected to a care community or if you would like to serve a foster family as a member of a care community, please contact Kaylin Burt at kaylinburt523@gmail.com.

To read more about one such foster family and care community in our diocese, click on the Hulburts’ story in The Southern Cross to the right.

Olive Crest‘s mission is to end cycle of abuse by connecting loving families with children who need safety, care and support…and they see beautiful transformation stories every day. The organization prides itself on addressing each child’s unique needs with thoughtful compassion.

Safe Families for Children Program is an early intervention program which seeks to keep children out of the foster care system and into temporary, safe homes that function as extended family for children and their biological parents.  The Safe Families programs encourages local churches to support their Safe Families in a variety of creative ways.

Foster To Adopt program started in 1998 and is licensed to provide adoption and foster family services in five Southern California counties. Since its inception in 1973, Olive Crest has been expanding its services to meet the growing needs of vulnerable children. Finding permanent homes for the increasing number of special needs children has prompted Olive Crest to become licensed as a full-service adoption agency.

Restoration 225 rallies the Body of Christ to alleviate the foster care crisis in San Diego and beyond.  The organization works with churches and volunteers to do the following.

  • Recruit:  Create awareness at your church that vulnerable children need help! Recruit people to help fill the gap that exists in the foster care system.
  • Retain:  Help foster & adoptive families succeed in serving at-risk children by building a Care Community to encourage, pray and tangibly support the foster family.
  • Ensure the emotional and physical well-being of foster children by supporting foster & adoptive families helping at-risk youth become loving, productive, thriving adults.

Support for Adoptive Families

BraveLove‘s mission is to change the perception of adoption through honest and hopeful communication about the bravery of every birth mom.  This site provides a plethora of resources both for women considering giving their child up for adoption and potential adoption families.

Catholic Charities has provided counseling services to pregnant woman since the early 1970’s and services to prospective adoptive parents since the 1980’s.  Catholic Charities became a state-licensed adoption agency in 1984 and over 400 infants have been placed for adoption through the program.

Although Catholic Charities no longer recruits adoptive families or places children in adoptive homes, we honor our history by providing Post Adoption Services to all adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents who have been involved in an adoption through our agency.  Respect for clients and the values of mercy and justice are continuously at the core of all practices of Catholic Charities Post Adoption Services.

I Adopt U is a division of the Exceptional Families Adoption Campaign, launched in order to recruit families to meet the needs of children in foster care, particularly those considered hard to place. At any given time, approximately 30 foster children are awaiting a permanent adoptive placement in the County of San Diego.

The County  serves all members of the adoption triad: adoptees, birth families, and adoptive parents. Both voluntary relinquishments as well as adoptions of children from the foster care system are handled by the agency, which is staffed by professional social workers. A no-obligation orientation is available by attending a free Orientation meeting. Ongoing professional education and training classes about adoption issues are another benefit offered by the agency.


Adoption Testimony

Adoptive mom Nicole Johnson ponders our call to take that same responsibility of caring for all our brothers and sisters on earth in her reflection, What if…
This article was originally published at CatholicMom.com and is reprinted here with the permission of the author.