How to Adopt a Child in the Texas Foster Care System

The adoption process can seem tedious, but it’s important to be patient and work through each step.

AUSTIN, Texas — Adopting a child is a very important decision that requires careful planning and thought. The process can take six months or more to ensure that it is a perfect match for the child and their future parents.

Every week for our Forever Families segment, KVUE Daybreak’s Hannah Rucker spotlights a child in the central Texas foster care system who is looking for a forever home. But this time, we’re breaking down the stages of adoption.

Here is a preview of an organizational chart provided by Partnerships for children this shows how long and delicate the adoption process is and why it requires so much patience:

Lacy Vavra is the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) adoption readiness supervisor for the Austin area.

She said first you need to create a profile on the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange, or TARE, website. Then you need to get a license with a child placement agency (APC).

From there, Vavra said it was a series of background checks and trainings specifically for working with traumatized children.

“We have background checks from the State of Texas, FBI checks. And if you have a criminal background, it’s not an automatic ban on adopting a child. It depends on what it is, how long it was. We’ll do assessments and determine if, you know, it’s a safety risk to any child that we place in your home,” Vavra said.

She said the most important part is the home study, when someone comes to your house to take a look at what the child’s life would be like.

“Your home study is a tour of your home. They’ll talk about, you know, all the bedrooms you have, what they’re set up for for a child. If you have bunk beds in a room or if you have a full bedroom-size bed, you know, what’s going on, who you could put in your house,” Vavra said.

“They’ll also tell you what age range you’re looking for, what behaviors you’re okay with, what type of trauma story you’re okay with,” Vavra added. “Some people don’t want children who have been sexually abused, and that’s fine. We just want to make sure parents are equipped to deal with any traumatic reactions that may arise.”

The adoption process can take three months, six months or more. It depends on several factors. As for the price, if you are adopting through the state, the cost can range from $300 to $400. Adoption through a private agency has a wide price range.

More than anything, Vavra said to have patience with the child you adopt and with yourself.

“Give that kid a chance to process. Sometimes there will be a honeymoon period, and it might be a day, it might be three months. But just know that they’re trying to figure it out too,” Vavra said. . “Our children have been so rejected in their lives, and it’s up to them to try and push people away before they can push them away. They need love. That’s something we’re trying to say to our families from the start.”

She said it’s important to remember that while information about a child may be scary on paper, it’s just a child.

“You know, they’re scared of college and their senior year or, you know, they’re scared that their little sister who’s already been adopted is struggling. You know, they have a lot of scares,” Vavra said. “They’re just, they’re human and they’re children, and sometimes it’s really hard for us to remember. But be patient, try and remember they’re all human.”

View all children currently up for adoption in the Austin area. If you would like to contact Vavra, you can email her at [email protected]

KVUE launched the Forever Families segment with Partnerships for children (PFC) in June 2020 to highlight the children of Heart of Central Texas Gallery who need secure and permanent families. Every day, nearly 1,000 children are waiting to be adopted in central Texas, according to PFC.

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Editor’s Note: Children who are in the Heart Gallery program and featured in KVUE’s Forever Families segments are children who have gone out of their way to connect them with family or other members of their community to provide options for forever adoptive homes. Through no fault of their own, this has yet to happen, and so in partnership with the Department of Family and Protective Services, we are working together to educate KVUE viewers about these children in hopes of finding them permanency before they don’t get old.

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