More than 500,000: That's the number of U.S. children in foster care. Of the 500,000, 129,000 of them are eligible for adoption, with just 20 percent having been connected with an adoptive family [source: Children's Rights].
Although the goal of foster care is to be able to return the child to the birth parent(s), that isn't always possible. And when that's the case, potential parents are able to serve as foster parents and then adopt, or adopt right away.
If you'd like to enter into the process, you will connect with a public agency and complete an application. Prospective parents enter an orientation and prep class and start a home study. A family caseworker partners with you during the process, and a child caseworker, representing the child, seeks you out.
Adopting a child from foster care is a different world when it comes to costs and timelines. Low fees, from $1,500 to $3,500, are basically erased by government assistance. You may also qualify for ongoing government-sponsored subsidies. And although your application, home study and wait for a child matching your requirements may vary, once a birth parent loses parental rights, adoption finalization can run about six months [source: Adoptive Families Magazine].