Everything You Need to Know About At-Risk Adoptions

Choosing to bring a child into your home is one of the most important decisions that you can make as an adoptive parent. Adoption is not for the faint of heart and any adoptive parent who has been through the process can tell you that there are many ups and downs throughout the process. Some adoption stories are incredible with tales of children coming into a home literally overnight while others are long and drawn out processes that can take months or even years to complete. At-Risk adoptions are commonplace in today’s world but offer their own set of risks and benefits.

What Is an At-Risk Adoption?

An At-Risk adoption means that a child is living in your home but is not legally yours. The parental rights of the biological parents have not been relinquished or terminated which makes adoption impossible. The rules regarding parenting rights can vary depending on the state that you and the biological parents live in. Some states can terminate parental rights very quickly, without any consent from biological parents, while others require that biological parents be an active part of the process. An At-Risk adoption means that the child is not legally free for adoption and could technically be cared for by the biological parents once again.

What Are the Benefits?

The benefits of an At-Risk adoption include the fact that you get to care for the child within your home. You get to show them what a loving family is and start their healing process. Many children who are in the process of an At-Risk adoption are foster children who have already been living in your home so the benefits may not be that different from before. However, if you accept a new child into your home that is involved in an At-Risk adoption, you will get to start parenting the child before you are legally the child’s parent.

What Are the Risks?

The biggest risk that an At-Risk adoption holds is the fact that the child could be taken away from your home in order to live with a biological parent. Usually an At-Risk adoption is one that is still being decided by the court system which could take months to complete. The risk that adoptive parents take is forming a strong bond with a child that could possibly be taken away to live with a biological parent. Although most At-Risk adoptions do end up well for adoptive parents there are cases where the biological parents will take the needed steps in order to parent the child in the future.

How Long Do At-Risk Adoptions Take?

Every At-Risk adoption is different and no one can guess the amount of time that the adoption process will take. Biological parents may be easy to find and are happy to sign over their parental rights while others may not even know that the child exists. At-Risk adoptions are those that are being processed through the court system which can take time. Some states will give biological parents a long amount of time to earn their parental rights back which could mean that the adoption is stalled for months if not years. Other states will look at a case and quickly decide that the best decision for the child would be adoption. Every case is unique and it all depends on the social workers, lawyers, and judges that are involved in the process.

Is an At-Risk Adoption the Right Choice for My Family?

Most adoptive parents involved in an At-Risk adoption are those foster parents who have decided to adopt their foster child. In these cases, the child is already living within the home before the adoption process starts. Choosing to pursue an At-Risk adoption would be easier because the child has already established comfort within your home and life can go on in a normal manner. Adoptive parents have also already been prepared to say good-bye to the child as a foster parent which can make the risk seem less.

However, there are some cases where an At-Risk adoption is available for a child that has never lived with you. In these cases, adoptive parents have the choice to accept the child into their home with the stipulation that the adoption would be at-risk. Understanding the fact that you may not be able to adopt the child due to the rights of the biological parent is important. Other important factors to consider when deciding about an At-Risk adoption is the impact that it will have on other family members. If you already have children within the home the loss of a sibling due to an At-Risk adoption could be difficult. Only you can weigh the options and choose if an At-Risk adoption is right for your family.

There are many risks and benefits to consider when choosing if an At-Risk adoption is right for your family. The adoption process is rarely a smooth one and will oftentimes have bumps along the way. However, choosing to pursue an At-Risk adoption allows you to parent a child and bring them into your family which can be beneficial for both the child and the adoptive parent. All of these things are important to consider when choosing to pursue an At-Risk adoption.

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