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Remaining patient and doing your research are vital for couples considering adoption or foster care.

“With foster care there are typically children in the state’s custody awaiting a wonderful home,” said Ashley Dooley Wohlgemuth, director of support and education for Catholic Charities, Kansas City-St. Joseph. “In all of those opportunities, it’s a great way to expand your family and provide love and nurturing to a child that really needs that.”

Sometimes the wait is a little longer, so couples need to be a more patient.

In adoption, the first step is to get a home study completed. Adoptive parents work with a social worker to come in and assess you as individuals as well as your home environment. The goal is to ensure you can care for a child —financially, physically, medically, educationally — for their life.

According to the American Pediatrics Association, the preparation and waiting period before adoption can be an emotional time. There are organizations that can help parents and families with the experience of welcoming a new person into a family.

Experts with Cornerstones of Care suggest that in Northwest Missouri alone there are nearly 3,000 children in need of a home. The state of Missouri has been experiencing an upward trend for several years, and the growth of foster homes has not kept pace with the number of children entering care.

Wohlgemuth says it can be scary for a lot of couples, but it’s a process that involves a lot of vetting, paperwork and home visits. The social worker prepares the home study and that’s what the judge reads to determine if this family would be a good fit.

Having a support network during this time is really important.

“In a private adoption scenario, you would provide a profile book,” Wohlgemuth, said, “which basically tells your story to the birth parents.”

During this matching phase, parents that choose to place their children up for adoption have a chance to preview the profile books. There’s also a letter that goes along with the profile book that describes everything in more detail.

“The letter offers a chance for couples to explain their desires for wanting to adopt,” Wohlgemuth said. “Both parents are given a written and visual way of helping them to decide who they feel is a good fit.”

In the end, the judge ultimately decides if a child can be matched. The judicial system plays an important part in the adoption process.

In cases where the child is older, the process is a bit different. It also gives the foster parents a chance to share what they’ve learned while fostering children.

“There is what’s called a transition plan especially with older children,” Wohlgemuth said. “These plans help those older children get to know who they will be living with, what the routine will be like.”

Erica Van Buren can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPVanBuren.

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