The challenges can be great, but so are the rewards
Adoption provides unique opportunities to change children’s lives and enrich the life of the adoptive parent or family that welcomes them. Children waiting for adoption can be any age, but most are between the ages of 5 and 17 and live in temporary foster or group homes. Many have been removed from their families because of abuse or neglect. Parental rights of these children have been terminated and they are wards of the state of Florida until they are adopted or age out of the foster care system when they turn 18.
Patience, commitment, and unconditional acceptance; these are keys to parenting. Most children thrive as they adjust and grow in a secure home environment. Are there special requirements? Yes. Adoptive parents of foster care children must be consistent, yet flexible, strong, yet nurturing.
Hear From some Adoptive Parents:
“I raised six children of my own, numerous grandchildren and have always been a caretaker of children. As my children grew into adults, I began to get the ‘empty nest’ feeling … and I longed to have young children in my home all the time … I’ve fostered many children … but, none took my heart like Admire when she was placed into my home in 2006. She is the apple of my eye … my ‘little lady’. She has given me a renewed sense of purpose, and I look forward to watching her grow and develop. I can’t imagine my life without her!” -Adoptive Mother Anne Inmon
“Since we adopted Jesse and Sara, our days have been full, with lots of laughter and hugs, talking with them about all kinds of things, learning from them and challenging them to keep improving. They seem more confident, are doing well in school, talk about their futures, love meeting their extended family, and have become active in our church. We will definitely stay young with them, and they are and will continue to be great blessings in our life.” — Joe and Bernadette “Bernie” Young
Affordability While private forms of adoption can cost upwards of $30,000, adopting Florida’s kids from foster care cost little or nothing. The required MAPP training class and home study are provided free of charge, and you will be reimbursed up to $1,000 for adoption expenses such as attorney’s fees and mileage during the visitation process.
Legally Secure Prospective adoptive parents often worry that a child’s birth parents may change their minds and want the child back. Because Florida’s children are not made available for adoption until a court has already terminated the parental rights of their birth parents, this form of adoption is very secure.
Monthly Financial Support Families that adopt one of Florida’s kids in care will likely qualify for a monthly subsidy to help offset ongoing costs. This amount is negotiated on a child-by-child basis, depending on the child’s unique needs and the availability of funds.
Health Care All of the children who receive a monthly subsidy are eligible to receive health care through the Medicaid program until age 18. Some of the children are eligible for Medicaid until age 21.
College Tuition Florida’s children adopted from care are eligible for free tuition at any state university, community college or vocational school in Florida. That’s a great benefit for those considering adopting an older child, who is closer to college age.
A Community Of Support Other parents who have adopted Florida’s children offer a wealth of support and information for new adoptive parents, and even maintain a 24-hour helpline. For more information, visit www.pcfapa.org. Plus, in many communities, adoptive parent support groups, community-based care agencies, faith-based, civic and other organizations help support families that adopt Florida’s children.
Federal Tax Credit Families that adopt children from foster care are eligible for a tax credit on their federal income taxes. A tax credit is a reduction in the amount of taxes you pay the government. Adoption Credit Brochure (pdf)
Older Children. There are real advantages to adopting an older child. First of all, the long trek from diapers to college is shortened considerably if the child you are adopting is 10, or even 14. You may be sharing more fishing trips or football games than sleepless nights.
Common Interests When you adopt one of Florida’s children, you have the opportunity to find a child with interests parallel to your own or whose needs match the strengths of your family. We have children who love sports, music, computers, animals and many other interests. You can find a child who will complement your life and interests.
Siblings Imagine an instant family. Even a large instant family can become reality if you adopt a sibling group. The bond among siblings is often powerfully strong. By adopting a sibling group, you are giving brothers and sisters who care deeply about each other a chance to grow up together in a new family – yours.
Explore Adoption – Florida
Adopt US kids
American Adoption Congress
Information Clearinghouse ACIS
National Resource Center for Special Needs Adoption
Florida’s Adoption Reunion Registry
Children Awaiting Parents, Inc. CAPS
Florida Adoption Information
Dave Thomas Foundation For Adoption
Child Welfare League of America
National Adoption Center
One Church, One Child
The Forever Foundation
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Pasco Foster/Adoptive Parent Association
Become a Foster Parent! To find out more about fostering, please contact Eckerd Community Alternatives at 1-866-233-0790
Guardian ad Litem and Guardian ad Litem Foundation of Tampa Bay provides funding for individual children’s needs, recruitment for Guardian Ad Litem, and guardian training. galf6.org
The mission of Lutheran Services Florida Children’s Services is to provide community-based services to a population of at-risk children, youth, and their families utilizing culturally relevant client-focused intervention, case management, mentoring, and education. Mentoring opportunities offer one-on-one community-based program to provide a positive role model for a child. Training and activities provided.
The mission of Ready for Life is to engage foster care youth, private citizens and public resources to assist Pinellas County foster youth in a successful transition to adulthood. readyforlifepinellas.org
Fostering Hope Florida is a network of foster homes providing living arrangements, infant and toddler car seats and cribs, transportation, tutoring, counseling and mentoring. fosteringhopeflorida.com
The mission of Adoption Related Services is to keep families together and enhance attachment in the parent-child relationship. arsponline.org
Q: How many children are currently in the local foster care system?
A: At any given time, over 3,000 children are served by the local foster care system, covering Pinellas and Pasco counties
Q: How many children are available for adoption?
A: The status of children in foster care changes frequently, however at any given time, approximately 150 children are available for adoption.
Q: How many children are on the Heart Gallery?
A: There have been a total of 256 children on the Heart Gallery and currently there are more than 100 children on the gallery website.
Q: Where is the Gallery located?
A: The physical gallery travels throughout Pinellas and Pasco counties. To see current gallery locations, please visit the Home Page of this website.
Q: How many Heart Gallery children have been adopted?
A: We are pleased to report that the Heart Gallery has helped 71 children find forever families. Another 36 children are currently matched with a family. So, out of the total, over 40% have either found homes or have started the adoption process.
Q: Can anyone adopt? What are the requirements?
A: You must be 21 years of age, can be single or married, must be able to provide stable housing and income. You must also complete Florida’s training and meet background screening requirements.
Q: I think I’m interested, but still have questions. How do I get started?
A: To learn more, consider attending an adoption orientation. Click here for the 2012 Orientation Schedule (DOC) To get more information about the orientation, call Diane Johnson at 727-456-0600 Ext. 2085 or email email@example.com
Q: I can’t adopt, but want to help. What are your needs?
A: We are forming a new Volunteer Program. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Carol Hughes or 727-417-9328.The Heart Gallery is an independent, 501 (c ) (3 ) organization that survives solely on the generous contributions of individuals and businesses. Please consider a donation, which can be made at the heart Gallery website or by mailing to: 13575 – 58th Street N, Clearwater, FL 33765.