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Adopting through foster care in CA - just one list of available kids?

My husband and I just became certified to adopt through foster care in California.  We were invited by our agency to come in and look at their “book of kids” which consists of several counties in Northern California.  We were told there would be over 500 kids and to allow at least 2 hours to go through this book.  But when we were given the book, there were maybe 50 kids in it.  We were surprised at how few kids were available.  That got me thinking, does each agency have a different list of available kids?  Would another agency have a more extensive list?  Is there another resource I’m missing in my search?  We’re hoping to adopt a sibling pair, ages between 3/4 up to 10 years old.


have you been on it is the statewide online adoption photolisting for california. also check out, there are several different online heart galleries for various regions in california. also ask your worker/agency about matching events where you can learn about and sometimes meet different children

Posted by rn4kidz on Apr 20, 2019 at 1:29am

FFY here and I know it’s not popular,to put it mildy, but are you seriously looking for a agency that has a bigger list of kids that you can go through to see if there are any you might like?
Children are not commodities, and foster agencies aren’t supposed to work to provide kids for people, who like you, want specific children of specific ages to fulfill your needs.
You complain that you aren’t given enough options to find the children you want for yourselves, but have you considered that maybe you shouldn’t be able to pick out the kids you want as if they were on Amazon?
Reading that you are distressed that the “book of kids” doesn’t contain the kids you might want, and that you are actually asking for advice on how to get a better commercial outcome, breaks my heart.

Posted by NoraT on Apr 20, 2019 at 2:48am

Nora, this is how it goes for people trying to adopt from foster care. all through training we are told how there are 14,000 kids waiting for home RIGHT NOW in our state, and 105,000 in the whole country. they tell us how badly we are needed, there just aren’t enough homes and families out there. they teach you about trauma and how these kids are great kids but they are hurting… and waiting for a family to love them.  then they start stressing the importance of matching,and making sure you know what you can handle,  and how they work hard to make sure they find the kids the perfect match. and they get you all excited: your perfect match is out there waiting for you! and then you get your certificate and you are ready to go out there and find your child….. and then they tell you that you need to go find your own child, check out the photolistings. and they give you a book that has 50 teenagers in it. and you think ok, the need is for teenagers. i can do a teenager. and you read the profiles and they sound like great kids. and then you start making inquiries…. and get told things like “hes really athletic but he broke his foster mothers arm”  or “she super sweet most of the time but she starts fires”... ambitious but smears feces and breaks foster parents belongings…. creative but molests younger children…. and on and on it goes. then you find some kids who have some challenges that you think you can handle and you submit your homestudy…. only to be told they need to be an only child, have two parents, be the youngest child, have their own bedroom, go to protestant christian parents, not be allowed around animals, and any other number of things that disqualifies your family. so you keep searching and sending out inquiries. often times you are told they chose another family, more often you never hear anything back at all (even though the child you are so anxious to love is still listed as available on the photolisting site).  The reality is most kids will be adopted by their foster parents. young kids, even young kids with significant challenges are matched very quickly without ever being listed on the photolisting sites. teenagers without significant behaviors are also often matched fairly easily without ever being on the photolisting sites.  So now you have this family who has spent months being told how there are thousands of kids waiting for a home just like theirs…. and then they are told to find a child from a list of 50 of the most difficult cases in the entire state. then when you pick a kid from those 50, you still arent matched, your family wasn’t good enough. So yes, potential adopitve parents are going to wonder, if the need is so great, where are all the kids?  if there are 14,000 kids in my state waiting to be adopted, why do I know so many people who have been waiting years to be matched? these are people open to teens, open to severe medical needs, open to any race and gender, open to large sibling groups, open to adopting out of state, open to significant behavior challenges…and we have all been waiting years. So don’t get angry if we get confused and upset when they tell us there are over 100,000 children desperately waiting to be adopted in the US, and we desperately want to give these kids a home, but somehow once the trainings done there are no kids to be found.

Posted by rn4kidz on Apr 20, 2019 at 4:52am

If the need is to desperately to give kids a home, why be selective about age or gender? If the need is to give a home to kids who need one, why be so needy about being adoptive parents rather than just take care of the child?
“No kids to be found”—maybe no kids should be found just for people who want them.

Posted by NoraT on Apr 20, 2019 at 5:32am

Nora adoption is more like marriage than giving birth, trying to get two strangers to love and accept each other can be awkward even in the best circumstances and disastrous if care isnt chosen to make sure the two people are compatible. Surely you realize adoption has a greater chance of working out if the parents actually want and like the child. If in their heart someone wants to experience raising a toddler but ends up with a teenager they dont really want, dont you think that teenager is going to end up feeling unwanted? You can say all you want that age shouldnt matter and that sounds lovely in theory but the reality is raising a toddler is a vastly different experience than raising a teenager and you know it. You seem to forget that foster and adoptive parents are human too. Yes the childs well being is most important, but you have to consider the adults feelings too and you never seem to realize that. And let me put out there that i wish you would stop acting like you speak for all FFY. I am one too, and you dont speak for me!

Posted by rn4kidz on Apr 20, 2019 at 3:03pm

OP, is there an online support group for foster and adoptive parents in CA? PA has an excellent facebook group and I have seen soooo many people make connections and find matches that way. One person will post how horrible they feel for declining a particular match and another person will read the post and realize the child is a perfect match for them. I have also made several internet adoption friends and we tell each other about kids. One lady in particular lives in NW pa and i am in SE pa, and we are always referring kids to each other that we would never have learned about otherwise

Posted by rn4kidz on Apr 20, 2019 at 3:19pm

m4kidz, you’ve described the situation facing people trying to adopt from the foster care system very well.

And NoraT, while I feel your pain and anger and longing for a world in which every child is chosen and loved unconditionally from the first moment, I must say I agree completely with m4kidz that the reality is that the initial process for adopting older children feels rather like trying to find a match for marriage through an online site.  On those sites, your match is not a relationship from the very first moment; it’s a method of determining who is out there.  The matching process in adoption is much more intense and thorough, but similarly, the ‘forever families’ we talk about in adoption are real and made by good matching plus the hard work of building the relationship. Once an adoption match is made there begins the path to adoption and the strong real ‘forever’ commitment.

As you know, in adoption from foster care, the way the system is set up now,there are two main ways prospective parents certified to adopt find their match.  They get to look at the database of children who will not be reunified by their parents, who need new parents to raise them.  And the children’s caseworkers get to view the home studies—also a database for caseworkers of all the families in their state trying to adopt—so they can try to match prospective parents to the children on their caseloads. They are looking for the best fit for the children.

  We’ve had it happen that several different caseworkers in different counties in our state ALL chose us to be the match for the sibling sets on their caseload.  They chose us because we had attributes they liked, that they knew would be good for the children, etc.  But it was up to us to look into each match to decide if WE also felt it was a match.  We couldn’t adopt all our matches; we had to choose—or not choose.  It’s not like ‘shopping’—but it is a matching process. 

Adopting older children from the foster care system is not like giving birth to your baby.  It’s just not.  The mystery of which egg meets which sperm is a cosmic one, or is a match ‘made in Heaven,’ but it’s PEOPLE doing the arranging with adoption.  It’s a match ‘made on earth,’ andit’s people trying to make something good come out of trauma.  I believe prospective parents AND social workers generally all have the best will, and long to be part of solution for trouble that was NOT of their making.  The love and commitment that develops down the line IS like the love we feel for birth children, and just as strong and intense and real…but the WAY we become a family through adoption is different from the way we become a family through birth. 

ehelms, as for your question about the number of kids in the ‘book’, in our case there were printed sheets in a binder—an actual ‘book’—we were given to look at, but ALSO an online database you can search when you’re at the agency’s office.  We needed to ask our caseworker to set us up in a room with the computer—and the caseworker logged us in with her special password.  It’s not the public database; it’s the listing of ALL the children in the system for whom adoption has been chosen their best option, moving forward.  That’s where the thousands of kids are… not in the printed binders (although the data base also includes the kids in the binders.).  The children on the public databases are the ones most difficult to place, or who have been waiting the longest.  The others may not be legally able to be on the public database, but they are out there!.  I wish you the best of luck in this exciting journey.

Posted by VintageMom on Apr 20, 2019 at 5:22pm

Thank you everyone for your responses. m4kidz that is a perfect description and thanks for the suggestion of looking for an online support group for California.  I’ll look into that.  VintageMom - thank you for sharing your experience!

NoraT, I am also FFY so I understand how weird this adoption process seems to you.  I was adopted from foster care when I was 8 years old and I doubt this “matching process” was around back in the early 80s when I was adopted.  Because if it was, perhaps my adoption might have actually worked instead of creating a more traumatic experience for me and my brother than the neglect, abuse and multiple foster homes ever caused.  The process now seeks to avoid adoption experiences like mine.  The others have accurately explained why this process occurs now, and I am living proof as to why it is needed.

Posted by ehelms on Apr 20, 2019 at 8:47pm

Thanks for your responses. That’s what good about this forum—different voices saying maybe to look at things differently. And I am grateful to see things from another perspective.
But I can’t help wondering what it would be like if the script was flipped—children who need a home are given a database of adults who want to foster, or who are fostering with the intention to adopt and “build their families.” What traumas have they had in their lives? What habits do they have that you might not like? What are their relationships with their families? Do they have attachments to people (such as extended family) that will interfere with their bonding with you?
See where I’m going here?

Posted by NoraT on Apr 23, 2019 at 10:45pm

Nora that is exactly what happens. I know people looking for teens, and they allow the teens to do overnights with multiple families and they get a say into which family they go with. For me the kids i look at are too young tosay , so its social workers looking at my history on the kids behalf. And that is exactly what they do. All of my childhood trauma, mental health history, parenting skills, relationships with everyone, all of it. First i am questioned about it all in great detail by my agency who writes up all my private and personal information in a document that is shared with dozens and dozens of child caseworkers. Then when those workers are considering me for a child they review and discuss that document in a comittee of people. Then if they still like me after that they interview me with a group of people present, picking apart the most difficult parts of my history. Then at the end of it most of the time im turned down with no explanation at all and im left wondering what they dont like about me/my family. What you describe already happens. Its all part of making sure its a good match, it goes both ways, making sure parents are a perfect fit for the child as well as making sure the child is perfect for the parents.

Posted by rn4kidz on Apr 24, 2019 at 12:06am

lol, not where the op was going with this thread, but it got me remembering during my homestudy and my worker asked me how many fish i had in my fishtank. and i didn’t know exactly so there we were trying to count the fish as they darted around the tank. and she actually put in my homestudy that i had 3 cats and 8 fish. now when i don’t get chosen for a child my friends tease me “that 8th fish was just one too many, how could i possibly take care of a child when i have 8 fish!”

Posted by rn4kidz on Apr 24, 2019 at 12:54am

“Yes the childs well being is most important, but you have to consider the adults feelings too and you never seem to realize that. And let me put out there that i wish you would stop acting like you speak for all FFY. I am one too, and you dont speak for me!”

I don’t speak for all FFY, just for myself. FFY, like all people, are different and have different feelings. I can only speak to mine.
My feelings are that I don’t have to consider the adults feelings too. Those voices are very clear. I just speak my own truth.
The eight=fish story is I guess, when shared among certain people, really funny. Since you’re a FFY and an an adopter maybe you dont’ realize how very, very scary it that story is to some of us.
I’m happy for people like you who have had successful adoptions. That does not negate what I have to say.

Posted by NoraT on May 02, 2019 at 1:33am

I can’t possibly see how the fish story is scary. you should be comforted by the fact that they check my home and history so completely thoroughly that they actually care do i have 6 guppies or 8. or are you upset that we joke about it? i have to laugh or i will cry. i have inquired on dozens, maybe even hundreds of children over the years. time and time and time again I’m not chosen. many of those kids are still waiting, as much as 4 years after I asked to be their mom they still don’t have a family. and i have to wonder, what is it about me that makes them think I will be such a horrible parent to those kids? why is it better for them to be languishing alone in long term care medical facilities than to come into my home? do they think that because I had a difficult childhood and grew up in foster care, I must be unstable and unfit? do they think there is something wrong with me, my home, my family? So I joke that they don’t like me because I have too many fish, because the alternative is too upsetting.

Posted by rn4kidz on May 02, 2019 at 3:53am

I agree the amount of fish story shows how ridiculous this process can be. And everything m4kidz says makes sense.
But wouldn’t it make just as much sense if the whole system would revolve around finding places for children and not about finding children for people who want to find the right child/children to adopt and have fit in to their own families?
If the process would be about finding a home for kids who need one, and finding people who would be willing to provide such a home even if the children would never be adopted and have to pretend they are the bio children, would you agree?

Posted by NoraT on May 18, 2019 at 11:03pm

I agree the amount of fish story shows how ridiculous this process can be. And everything m4kidz says makes sense.
But wouldn’t it make just as much sense if the whole system would revolve around finding places for children and not about finding children for people who want to find the right child/children to adopt and have fit in to their own families?
If the process would be about finding a home for kids who need one, and finding people who would be willing to provide such a home even if the children would never be adopted and have to pretend they are the bio children, would you agree?

Posted by NoraT on May 18, 2019 at 11:03pm

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