For Shari Pulliam of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), Christmas likely comes early. Since November is National Adoption Awareness Month, Pulliam finds joy in seeing children find homes so that they may enjoy the Christmas season with caring families. Across the state of Texas, mass adoptions and awareness events were held across the state to highlight the plight of foster children waiting for permanent homes and a chance at normal lives. These events culminated with National Adoption Day on November 20th.
In speaking with The Record Newspapers, Pulliam says “Thousands of older foster children are asking themselves, ‘Why not me? Why can’t I have a family?'” Adoptive parent Shelly Manning understands the apprehension many prospective adoptive parents have about foster children; that they are somehow damaged. Manning, however, believes that adoptive children are no more damaged than any other child.
Texas’ DFPS launched its “Why Not Me?” campaign in 2007 to raise awareness about foster children. Since then, adoptions have increased dramatically. In 2009, 4,772 abused or neglected children and teens were adopted from state care. Unfortunately, more than 5,800 children are still waiting for new homes. Among them, older children (ages 10-17) comprise the largest group at 41 percent. Over a third of waiting foster children are African-American.
Adoption in Texas
The adoption process in Texas has several steps. Prospective parents begin with informational meetings to learn about the adoptive process. They then proceed through an assessment by DFPS to gather information about the parents’ home, mental and physical stability and readiness for adoption. They attend a 35-hour training called PRIDE (Parent Resource Information Development Education) to understand the transitions that will take place, how children bond with parents, and how to deal with problems that may arise.
Every adoption has a home visit, where a DFPS advocate inspects the parents’ home and produces a report detailing potential safety hazards, assessing parenting abilities, and identifying key qualities for matching. The report certifies the parents’ ability to adopt, and the actual matching process follows. Prospective parents will review children’s profiles and have meetings to find an ideal match.
The process concludes with a court determining that the prospective parents meet the legal requirements for adoption, that the child is eligible to be adopted, and that the parents agree to adopt the child. The court will memorialize its findings in an Order, and the adoption will be permanent.
For additional questions about the process and the legal requirements for adoption, contact an experienced family law attorney.