FAQs – Adoption

Here are some frequently asked questions about being a foster to adopt family. If you don’t find the answer to your question or have a specific situation to discuss, please contact a COBYS Resource Home Coordinator at 717-656-6580 or careforkids@cobys.org. We welcome your interest in the foster to adopt process.

Children are placed into foster care because they cannot safely stay with their birth family. They are between the ages of 0 to 18 when they are placed into foster care, but can decide to stay in foster care up to age 21. There are children of all racial and ethnic groups and of various religions. Some are placed individually, but many are part of a sibling group. Some children have mental or behavioral health needs, or special medical needs. All children must cope with grief and loss due to the separation from their birth family and with the impact of their parents’ issues that contributed to their placement. Parental addiction, homelessness, untreated mental health issues, lack of parenting skills or supervision, and truancy can be contributing factors to the abuse and neglect that children experience.

COBYS Family Services is affiliated with the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN). As a SWAN affiliate, COBYS is part of a network of public and private organizations that share a common goal of providing permanent homes in a timely fashion for Pennsylvania’s foster children. COBYS assists families and children who already are part of the COBYS program, as well as new families who are interested in pursuing adoption through foster care. Our role is to prepare children and families for adoption, facilitate the legal process, and provide support both before, during and after the adoption. All COBYS resource families are dually certified for foster care and adoption so children can be placed into pre-adoptive homes before parental rights are terminated. Before serving as foster parents, adoptive parents, or respite parents, families are required to attend an information session and complete a 27-hour pre-service training. Information Sessions are offered three times a month at Murry Hill Center or through virtual meetings.

Various types of families are needed, including married or single persons, families with or without biological children, and families with or without a stay-at-home caregiver. Our greatest need is for families willing to parent teens, sibling groups, minority children, and medically fragile children.

In order to allow children to remain in their home school districts we need families throughout Lancaster County and the surrounding area. The COBYS coverage area generally includes a radius of one hour driving distance to our Murry Hill Center (444 Murry Hill Circle, Lancaster, PA 17601), from southern Lancaster County into parts of Berks, Lebanon, Schuylkill and York counties.

All children adopted through COBYS Family Services through the SWAN program begin as foster children. When children come into foster care, the goal is almost always reunification with their birth family. Children belong with their birth families when deemed safe and appropriate. In the case that children cannot return home, the courts will look towards the foster and foster to adopt parents for adoption. Parents can state their interest in adoption as a foster to adopt family upon entrance into the COBYS program or any time throughout their foster care service. Outcomes reflect that between 20 and 25 percent of children that are placed with the COBYS foster care program are adopted by their foster or foster to adopt family.

Foster and foster to adopt families may specify preferences for age, gender, race, number of children, and willingness to care for children with special needs. However, the more specific the preferences, the longer the time that may be needed to match families with children. Most children placed specifically for adoption through COBYS are older than age eight.

Foster children generally remain in care between six months and two years. Birth families typically receive 15 months to correct the issues that led to the child’s placement in foster care. At any point, a foster child may transition to the care of an approved kinship resource in order to allow the child to reside with their family.

The most effective foster parents build positive relationships with their foster children’s birth parents and become a source of encouragement to them. Foster parents and birth parents can have regular contact with each other at visitation, medical/dental appointments, and court hearings. If reunification with the birth family is unable to occur, court-ordered contact between the two sets of families ceases, unless otherwise decided by the foster/foster to adopt family and biological family. In most cases some level of connection, when situations are safe and stable, is beneficial to foster/adopted children.

Foster parents are responsible for transporting children to all appointments and visits. Most foster children have court-ordered, supervised visits with birth family members a minimum of once a week. Foster/foster to adopt parents provide transportation to and from these visits.

For all children placed with COBYS, the foster family receives a per diem reimbursement for living expenses, which includes clothing and transportation. Medical, dental, prescription, and mental health care coverage is provided by the County Children and Youth agency. Foster/foster to adopt families are responsible for any costs associated with their approval process, including background checks, furnishing their home to accommodate children, and any home improvements needed to meet home safety requirements.

Adoption of children in Pennsylvania’s foster care system is heavily subsidized to encourage timely permanency for children. In most cases adoptions are finalized with little or no cost to the adoptive family. Most children are eligible to receive ongoing adoption assistance until age 18. Families who adopt through SWAN also may be eligible for an adoption tax credit.

The pre-service training process provided by COBYS prepares families to foster and adopt children. No separate adoption training is necessary.

Counseling for foster children is covered by their health insurance. The child’s caseworker will make referrals for the child to receive appropriate mental health services. Caseworkers provide support to the foster/foster to adopt family through monthly home visits and regular phone or e-mail contacts.

Support services are provided to help meet the needs of the foster child and the foster/foster to adopt family. If a foster family still is unable to meet the foster child’s needs, an alternative placement will be found.

COBYS desires that foster/foster to adopt families seek to meet the physical, emotional, cultural, and spiritual needs of foster children. Service through a servant spirit is why and how we do what we do. Full participation in the life of a church community is strongly encouraged.