Utah, like every other state, has many kids in foster care that are waiting to be adopted. Children adopted out of foster care are typically older and/or may have challenging medical or behavioral needs, and often come from homes where they were living in unsafe conditions.
Adopting out of foster care follows a similar legal process to private adoptions. The foster parents must typically first go through a certification process including classes and training on parenting children that have been through difficult circumstances, a home study, and multiple background checks. Then, after the parental rights of the biological parents have been terminated, the adoption can be finalized. In Utah, foster care cases are handled in juvenile court. The State of Utah is the “agency” with legal custody. The child will also have a lawyer called a Guardian ad Litem. All of the parties work together with the judge to create an adoption plan that is in the best interest of the child.
Because the State and our whole society benefits from these children being adopted into strong, stable families, there are significant incentives, primarily financial, to pursuing foster care adoptions. For example, there is no cost for the home study, training and education classes, and to become certified foster parents. There are no agency, application, or placement fees, and the State of Utah will reimburse the foster parents up to $2,000 per child for attorney fees or other out of pocket costs. In some instances, the child may be eligible for an ongoing adoption subsidy payment, health insurance coverage until the child turns 18. Finally, a family adopting from foster care may be able to take the entire federal Adoption Tax Credit in the year of finalization even if the adoption cost the family less than the entire amount.
Additional Resources about becoming Utah Foster Parents: