RESOURCES for Adoption/Foster/Orphan care

RESOURCES: As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and now as an adoptive parent, I’m continually learning about resources and adoption agencies.  Over the years, some agencies have stood out with good reputations while others have severely hurt people.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to choose a good agency for any type of adoption.  This page is a rough start.  However, I will be adding to this page.  But in the mean time, here are agencies I truly appreciate and would consider using ourselves:  Again, these are just my experiences so take this simply as information for your own research…

For International Adoption:
The key to choosing an international agency is reputation and experience and that agency’s contacts in the international country.  This can vary even within an agency depening upon the country you are interested in adopting from- make certain to assess for experience and contacts of that agency within the country you are hoping to adopt from.    The cost of international  adoption is staggering.  Usually the range is between $25,000 to $50,000 depending upon the country and also the amount of travel required.  It is rare for adopting families to actually have that amount of money.  However, there are ways to fund raise and find grants.  Im always amazed at how people actually find this amount of cash!  It’s miraculous.  Check back later for my financial resources.  
This agency has a strong reputation for their China adoption program.  I’m a member of their yahoo group and oh my goodness I cannot say enough positive about this agency.   They truly advocate for special needs children from China as well as for the families who are passionate about adopting these precious children.  Most international countries have strict guidlines on family size and parental age.  However, if you are willing to consider a special needs adoption, such restrictions are usually waved.  Please prayfully consider special needs children.  

Lifeline Adoptions
I’ve known a few families now to adopt special needs treasures from China through Lifeline.  FANTASTIC.  Ive seen them demonstrate integrity, knowledge and skill.  If we ever adopt from China, this is the agency we will likely use.  China special needs adoptions are likely the smoothest and quickest adoption’s I’ve watched- usually about 12-14 months from the first call to an agency until the parents traveled to bring their child home.  
For Private Domestic and International Adoption:
Private Domestic adoptons are when a birth mother chooses a family for her child- or an adoption provider chooses a family for her.  I cannot stress enough how vital it is to use a licensed agency for either private domestic or international adoptions.  When I was working in the field, I watched countless families shell out thoursands of $$$ to agencies in hopes for a child, only to be left with a broken heart and empty bank account.  Do your research!  These days you can learn alot on agency reputations online.  Private adoptions usually cost around $20,000.  Again, this number can vary.   
This agency has been around forever.  Their reputation has remained strong in both Both the International and Domestic adoption communities.
I have heard very good reports on this agency from internationally adopting families.   Like Bethany, they are huge, so do your homework regarding the country you are interested in and the local branch you are interested in using. I have not heard feedback on this agency from domestically adopting families.  

For Foster care and/or Foster Adoption:
For Foster care and foster adoption there are two choices of service providers:

1. Going directly through your county’s Human Service child welfare system.
In San Diego County, this is the website:  
The goal of foster care is to reunify children with their biological family.  The need for loving foster parents who can support this goal is HIGH.  
Families who do foster care are also given the option to adopt a child in their care if a parent is unable to be reunified with their child.  
Adoption:  For parents who want to adopt only, foster adopt is an option.  There are currently over 200,000 children in the USA foster care system ready RIGHT NOW for adoption.  For parents who are open to older children or children with special needs, this is an incredible option.  It costs NOTHING to adopt though foster care in San Diego County.  I’ve heard there is a minimal cost of a few hundred dollars in some states.  However, compared to the costs of private or international adoption- this is minimal.  The USA also provides financial assistance and medical insurance for children adopted through foster care.
2. Use of a non profit agency called a Foster Family Agency (FFA).  An FFA is like a “middle man”- they interact with the county system for you.  We started this process by going directly through the county because I’d observed FFA’s taking advantage of families and children- just because an agency is “non-profit” doesn’t mean they are truly using the donated and government funds to help children.  Unless you find an FFA that has a strong reputation for child advocacy and integrity, I’d personally go direct through the county.  HOWEVER, the two agencies below each have fantastic reputations for making children their highest priority and I have not heard even one negative report on either of them.  They are reported to make the process much easier and faster.  The two FFA’s below are in Southern California.
The reputation of Olive Crest is incredible.
Their focus is upon foster children.  Olive Crest has three strong programs:
Foster Care
Foster Adoption
Safe Families: An innovative collaboration between area churches, volunteers and child care professionals designed to support at-risk children and parents in need. Safe Families for Children is an opportunity for volunteers to have a powerful impact in the lives of others while practicing biblical hospitality and extending the love of Christ to people in need — all from their own home!
The focus of this agency is adoption.  They do international too, but I am highlighting them for their foster to adopt program since I have not heard any feedback on their international programs.  We have only recently learned of FCCA.  I talked with this agency a few days ago to confirm what some of their policies are and am now even further enthusiastic about this agency’s foster adopt program.   Going direct through your county child welfare program is a good way to go and NEEDS Christians who truly are willing to care for these children- even when it HURTS.  However, if you are interested in adopting a foster child without greater risk of loosing them or long wait times- you may want to further research FCCA.   One family we know started the process to adopt directy through the county child welfare system two years ago.  After jumping through countless hoops, they are still waiting for a placement.  Last month they attended the info session at FCCA.  Through FCCA, they will be adoption ready by the end of next month and are expected to receive placement within two to four months.  That’s FAST!!   This agency costs $1,500 total for a foster adoption.  The risk is low and the wait is likley short.  Unlike county foster programs who have access only to foster children in their own county system, FCCA has access to foster children who are available for adoption from the ENTIRE STATE OF CA!  

The focus of this agency is foster care, although families can also adopt foster children through this agency. The children clearly their highest priority and their foster families are treated with caring, supportive respect.  Season county foster parents have HIGHLY recommended this agency to us.  That says alot.

Adult Adoption
We get asked often if it is possible to adopt someone after their 18th birthday.  In most states, the answer is yes.   In California, you do not need an attorney to complete this process and the fee is simply $25.00
Here’s the link to Adult Adoption in California:  Adult Adoption
Step Parent Adoption:
You do not need to hire an attorney to do a step-parent adoption.  When doing an internet search on step parent adoption, numerous attorneys pop up with websites offering to do this service for $1200 to several thousand dollars depending upon the involvement and willingness of the biological parent who is not involved in parenting the child.  YOU DO NOT NEED AN ATTORNEY IN CALIFORNIA.   Check your state’s Superior Court Website for info regarding step-parent adoption in your state.  If you are in California, Simply file the required pile of papers with the court.  The filing fee is $25.  Then, and they will then give you the contact info for California’s Health and Human Services.  The HHSA fee is $250. You will be assigned a social worker to complete the necessary steps to finalize a step parent adoption.  Here is the link for California: Step Parent Adoption

Link:  California Step Parent Adoption
Here some encouraging resources on orphan care…

To start an orphan ministry at your church: 

Books I Love:
Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis:  Incredible example of faith in action.  At 18 years old she went to Uganda.  By age 19 she was the mother of 14 little girls and had started Amazima– a growing ministry caring for impoverished children and families.  Her blog is powerful: Katie Davis Blog.
Small Town Big Miracle by W. C. Martin  True story of a small town pastor and his wife who adopted four children.  Their small church community followed suit and adopted 72 children out of foster care.  Powerful story and easy to read.  
The Connected Child by Karen Purvis is a fantastic book regarding parenting traumatized children.  (Helps also for parenting any child.)   
You Tube: 
Short music videos:
Audio Adrenaline music video: Kings and Queens
Third Day music video: Children of God
Inspiring examples:
Motivational clips: