Adoption and Foster Care

One of the most important areas of the Human Services field is the care and protection of children. Two integral pieces of this care for children are adoption and foster care. Children are sometimes abandoned by their parents, orphaned due to death of parents or in some cases must be removed from households where their safety is in danger. In all of those cases these children, who are now wards of the state, are looking for homes to live in. Whether they are temporary homes such as happens with foster care, or permanent placement adoptions, these children need the love, care and attention of adults to thrive. The art of evaluating prospective foster or adoptive parents is one that requires a unique blend of organization, active listening, empathy, compassion, intuition, attention to detail and rapport. Working to place children in adoptive or foster homes is an incredible responsibility, but also has the potential to be remarkably fulfilling.

Foster care is a wonderful opportunity for childless adults, or parents, to experience a new child within their home. It also can be extremely challenging for both the foster parent and the foster child as quite often the foster child has some tremendous pain they are healing due to their separation from their parent in whatever form that took place. The child also has to make a massive adjustment from their parent’s home to state care and again into a foster home. In many cases the child will have already been in more than one foster home by the time they arrive in their current foster care situation which in and of itself can be traumatic and painful for the child as children crave stability. The uncertainty a child might feel coming into a new foster situation is something that will require plenty of patience, listening, empathy and compassion on the part of the foster parent. The opportunity to help a child feel the loving attention they crave is also an amazing chance for the foster parent to learn about this new child and help them to feel the stability and healing they desperately need in their lives. Being a foster parent is challenging but is also extremely rewarding. Adoptive households will face many similar challenges, but will also have the additional level of permanency. This is an absolutely profound connection that is forged with the child and one that has many layers and will unfold over the course of the child’s life.

For those who are working in human services the challenge of evaluating foster homes and adoptive homes is not to be understated. The permanency case worker will be required by law to perform a detailed analysis of the home in both cases before placing the child. Placements that go awry are very challenging for the foster parents and even more so for the child being cared for. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a solid loving placement is a hugely gratifying achievement and one that can make a lifetime positive impact on both the child and the foster or adoptive parent.

If one wishes to become a Permanency Case Worker, the best route is to earn one’s Master’s of Social Work with an emphasis on adoption or permanency. This will give you the baseline knowledge and skillset to be able to integrate quickly into your state’s child welfare program. You may also of course choose to join a private adoption agency with this degree which will present its own unique challenges and benefits. The role of the permanency case worker is extremely important to society, but it is the impact of the worker on the children and adults who experience adoption and foster care that is truly something special. Few careers offer as great a challenge or as great a sense of accomplishment as working in foster and adoptive care.