Fellow foster-to-adopt blogger All My Pretty Ones is facing a tough situation where Cindy, birth mom of her adopted daughter M, is having another baby. That baby would likely be taken into foster care. All My Pretty Ones wants to be the foster mom to that baby, so that M and her half-sister can grow up together, but the foster agency says All My Pretty Ones doesn’t qualify as kin. All My Pretty One asked if she should be considered kin. Since my response is super long and may be of interest to others, I am posting it here.
You should be considered kinship care as M’s parent. If you know where Cindy (bio mom) is when she gives birth and the baby goes into foster care, you should immediately contact Child Protective Services (CPS) of that state and county. Tell them you are kin and want to care for the baby.
Relatives (kin) can care for a baby before CPS takes that child into custody without anyone having to fill out paper work or pay any fees. So if Cindy ever gets back in touch, you could try this arrangement as the easiest route.
However, once that baby is in the State’s custody, relatives have to become licensed foster families in order to take that child in. So that means taking a class that lasts a couple months and a home study. The good news is that it is all free to you. And if you adopt out of foster care, the adoption is free to you and the State may continue payments for your adopted child (usually up to age 18) if he/she needs ongoing medical/education/therapeutic care.
Having to wait to get licensed is a bummer, but the good news is you would be prioritized ahead of other people looking to become foster parents. You would get called to a class sooner and get social workers to conduct your home study faster. Why? Because the State wants to keep families together and the courts usually order CPS to have the placement with family done by a certain date.
Even if the State where you live is different than the State where Cindy gives birth, you can still seek custody of the baby. The two States would work together, though this does take longer to sort out.
Lastly, the order for consideration for foster care placements is as follows – reunite with mom/dad, reunite with relatives (grandparents, aunts/uncles, siblings, etc.), place with fictive kin, and then place with strangers.
I do not know how CPS would rank different relatives. Does placement with other siblings outrank placement with grandparents? I haven’t ever seen a policy on that, though I do know that sibling relationships are very important as proven by research.
This is how it works in Virginia, but I suspect it’s similar in most places due to federal legislation encouraging keeping children with their biological families to the greatest extent possible.