Hearts to Home (Adoption From Foster Care) Program
Our Hearts to Home (Adoption from Foster Care) Program is designed for families seeking to adopt a child through the foster care system and provides supportive resources and services unique to foster adoption. Serving children ages 6-17 in the child welfare system, Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc identifies families best suited to embrace and manage the specialized needs for Florida’s waiting children. The process- from navigation to placement, to counseling and coaching- helps to promote success and ultimate well-being for the child and the family.
Children placed through this program may have a history of abuse or neglect, may be an older child, or part of a sibling group; Or may have specific medical, emotional, or behavioral needs. Through this program, Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc partners with Florida’s Department of Children and Families and child welfare agencies in other states to match the waiting children with permanent adoptive families.
The program is open to married couples, same-sex couples, and single applicants, with or without other children in the family. Families who tend to be most successful in this program are those with a high degree of flexibility and reasonable expectations of the child(ren)being placed.
The adoption process is complex and unique to each person walking through the experience. However, there are common questions as people start to explore what adoption might look like for them.
Below are some questions and answers about children ready for adoption that often come up at Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc.
We are seeking individuals and families with a high degree of flexibility who are willing to parent children with varying degrees of trauma experiences and special needs. Families need to be willing to work with different professionals on behalf of the children.
All youth in care have special needs by virtue of being removed from their family of origin. These special needs are unique to each individual child and are part of a much larger conversation. All youth in care have experienced trauma and need to be parented with trauma-informed care.
- Single applicants
- Same-sex couples
- Older couples
- Minority couples
- First-time parents
- Experienced parents
We require all families to complete our Trauma Linked Caregiving 6-week course. Currently, we are holding class virtually twice a week from 6-7:30 4 times per year, as well as courses on water safety and infant/child CPR.
We encourage families to investigate their local county programs. There is a great need for foster parents in Florida! Many counties require that families foster first or foster only. The goal of the Hearts to Home program is to focus on children in care who are awaiting adoptive homes. We work with all 67 counties in Florida to provide foster-to-adopt homes for these youths. We also work out of state!
Yes. Adopting children from foster care is typically less expensive than domestic infant adoption. Adoption tax credits are often available to most families adopting through the Hearts to Home Program. We ask that families attend an Information Night and schedule a one-on-one meeting with a program representative to get an in-depth understanding of the fee structure.
Yes. However, most of the children waiting for a family are school-aged children unless they are part of a sibling group with other children. Families hoping to adopt children under the age of five typically wait longer and must be open to varying degrees of legal risk.
The average age of children waiting in the foster care system on an adoptive home is between the ages of 8 and 10 years of age.
Adopting a child from the foster care system
comes with many questions!
So what does it look like to adopt a child from the foster care system with Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc? Each case is always unique, but hopefully, these steps help you better envision what the process can look like. Don't worry, we are here to support you throughout the journey. If you have more questions or are ready to speak with a program representative about kids waiting for adoption, we would love to hear from you!
Once you’ve made your decision to move forward, complete the required application forms and submit it to Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc along with the application fee and supporting documentation. After your application has been received and processed, you will receive the second-round steps.
When you are ready to begin the required training course, Trauma-Linked Caregiving (TLC), you will need to pay your education fee and register. Email: [email protected] to complete these steps. This six-week training course is offered quarterly.
Once you have completed your second-round steps and are at least halfway through your TLC courses, you may pay your home study fee and a caseworker will communicate with you about completing the family assessment process. This assessment involves at least two interviews, a home inspection, completion of medical forms, background clearances, and other documentation.
Meeting with Caseworker
After you have completed TLC and any remaining requirements have been met (including all background clearances), your home study will be completed. At this time, your caseworker will schedule a meeting with you either in your home or in the office. During this visit, you will have the opportunity to read your home study, review policies and procedures of the Hearts to Home Program and complete any last minute paperwork before beginning the networking and marketing.
After the final meeting, you will be invoiced for the networking fee. Once this has been paid, your caseworker will start creating your networking profile and add your family to our list of families waiting to be matched with a child.
Waiting for Placement
During your wait for placement, you will need to keep your home study current with an update each year. You may also be interested in attending training or other events through Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc. Your caseworker will also support and communicate with you during this time.
Your caseworker will coordinate with you regarding networking activity, potential matches, and placement plans. When the date of placement arrives, your caseworker will guide you through the process.
During the post-placement time period, you can expect to be involved with your Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc caseworker as well as various other professionals such as your local Case Management Office or Community-Based Care caseworker, Guardian ad Litem, therapist, CASA volunteer, or others. In the Hearts to Home program, the length of the post-placement supervision can vary widely. Your caseworker will discuss the details of your case with you.
When the time has arrived to finalize your adoption in court, your Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc caseworker and your local Case Management Office or Community-Based Care Agency will coordinate this with you. The finalization hearing is a very special day! At this time, you will receive a final decree of adoption for your child, and your caseworker will guide you through acquiring any other documentation. You will also receive some post adoption resources to help you throughout the journey of adoption with your child.
Congratulations! You are setting out on a new journey as adoptive parents. Many families choose to stay involved with Heart of Adoptions Alliance as volunteers, donors, guest speakers, or attendees at our social and fundraising events. We can also be a resource for you as you navigate parenting your child. Speak with us to find out how you can stay connected.
We can answer any questions regarding adopting a child from foster care!
View Waiting Children
For over 15 years, the Heart Gallery of Tampa’s innovative model has found hundreds of loving, adoptive families for our community’s most vulnerable foster children. Our mission is to raise awareness for Tampa’s waiting foster children, engage the community in their welfare, and secure permanent, loving adoptive families. Historically, foster children have been hidden from the public eye. Using captivating, professional photography and moving videography, the Heart Gallery of Tampa is bringing youth waiting to be adopted, out of the shadows and into the light.
The faces and voices of these children continually inspire communities to open their hearts and homes to make a difference in the lives of foster children. Fifty percent of all children featured in the Heart Gallery are matched within their first touring year. In fact, children featured in the Heart Gallery of Tampa’s traveling photographic exhibits are three times more likely to find forever families.
In addition to adoption recruitment, the Heart Gallery of Tampa is deeply invested in improving the quality of life for children as they wait to be adopted. Every Heart Gallery of Tampa child receives birthday and Christmas gifts, as well as opportunities to participate in special events throughout the year. These quality of life initiatives provide the community with tangible ways to contribute to the well-being of these youth.
MAKE A DONATION.
You can make a difference for families participating in special needs adoptions.
Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc.
Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that is Hague Accredited to complete international adoptions. In addition to international work, we promote adoption education through our dedication to assisting families facing an unplanned pregnancy by providing resources and support. Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc. also works to provide grants to families needing assistance with the costs of adoption, when possible.