Main Office M-F 9 AM-5 PM +1-301-664-9664

24/7 Crisis Pregnancy ONLY Hotline for Maryland/Virginia/DC:+1-888-731-6601 or TEXT: 240-600-1106

PWNL (Older Child) after hours counselor:+1-888-955-3339


What Is Project Wait No Longer-Older Child Adoption from Foster Care (PWNL)?



The question can be asked, “When is a person too old to need a parent?”  The answer is never. Life is full of pivotal events and important decisions, including dealing with peer pressure, graduating from high school, deciding which college to attend, getting married, and experiencing the birth of grandchildren. Many of the children in foster care grow up to be young adults with no family ties. They have no one to reliably turn to for advice or to help celebrate their life accomplishments or support them through life’s disappointments.  At The Barker Adoption Foundation, we believe all children, regardless of age, deserve a safe, stable and loving family.

Project Wait No Longer-Older Child Adoption from Foster Care (PWNL) is a program of The Barker Adoption Foundation that seeks to find permanent, adoptive families for older children whose circumstances resulted in their being placed into public foster care. Most of the children are 12–17 years old, but some younger waiting children are part of larger sibling groups (three or more children) who desperately wish to stay together. PWNL has placed nearly 100 wonderful children with adoptive families in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

The children we place have all experienced significant trauma. Many have been removed from their biological families because of abuse and neglect and are in urgent need of a loving and stable family that is prepared to help them heal from the impact of that trauma. Despite their history, children in the foster care system are very resilient and can thrive with the love and support of a safe, loving, and committed family. 

The Numbers

  • There are currently more than 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system.
  • Slightly more than 100,000 children in care are awaiting adoptive families.
  • By age ten, a child’s likelihood of being adopted goes down by 50 percent.
  • An estimated 22,000 children “age out” of foster care every year with no family ties.

PWNL partners with public child welfare agencies across the country to find loving, safe, and permanent families for these resilient children who are in need of a family like yours. 

Our Services

PWNL is seeking couples and individuals who have room in their homes and hearts to adopt a waiting child or sibling group. Our comprehensive program will provide you with the following services:

  • Specialized training in preparation for older child adoption
  • Support services and consultation throughout the process
  • An adoption home study with an adoption specialist
  • Matching and referral of a child or children legally free for adoption
  • Facilitation of visitation and placement of the child into your family
  • Intensive post-placement support services during the months after placement and before adoption finalization
  • Lifelong support and access to Barker’s Family and Post-Adoption Services

PWNL Adoptive Parent Eligibility

PWNL is seeking families and individuals who feel prepared to meet the needs of and become permanent families for the children waiting in the foster care system. Here is a video about the most common characteristics seen in PWNL adoptive parents.  We know that there are children with a wide variety of needs and preferences and as such we keep our eligibility requirements somewhat flexible. The following are the general eligibility criteria for PWNL:

  • Singles and married couples are welcome to apply.  If married, you must be married for a minimum of one year at the time of application.  Please note that more recently married couples (married less than one year) are also welcome to apply in cases where they have lived together for at least one year. Please note that unmarried couples are not eligible to adopt through this program, and that any couple living together must apply for adoption together.
  • No fixed age limit
  • Must be open to adopting children a minimum of ages 12 and up
  • Must complete the PRIDE older child adoption training prior to starting the home study
  • Must meet state and agency guidelines for criminal history, medical, and other eligibility standards
  • Please click here to view Barker's non-discrimination agreement.

PWNL Process & Timeline

Watch a short video about the PWNL adoption process.

Working with PWNL involves comprehensive programming that takes families from where they are just “thinking” about older child adoption to helping them with support services once they are parenting their new child or children.

On average, families working with PWNL are matched with their children within 8–12 months of completing their home study. The time it takes to be matched varies from family to family, so it is important to note that this timeframe is just an estimate.

Here is an overview of the steps that a family would follow to adopt a child though PWNL.

Project Wait No Longer Adoption Process

The Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education (PRIDE) curriculum is a nationally recognized training model used to train foster/adoptive families for adoption through the public foster care system. This thorough, hands-on training typically takes place in four sessions and 27 hours. Participants learn about everything from adopting through the foster care system to managing issues relevant to older child adoption. In addition to covering specific details about the PWNL program, the training offers the opportunity to meet families who have adopted through PWNL and other families considering doing the same. For more details about PRIDE training, watch this video and read more about parent education. You can sign up for the next PRIDE training, here: October/November 2017 PRIDE.

PWNL Sliding-Scale Adoption Fees & Adoption Subsidy

The PWNL adoption program is financed primarily through adoption fees, state contracts, grants, and donations.

Fees are assessed on a sliding scale based on household income. It is important to note that PWNL can often contract with the placing state agency to pay a significant part of your adoption fees, but this is not a guarantee, so we ask that all families be prepared to pay the adoption fees. If you have questions about how the state contracts work, please contact Outreach and Program Support Specialist Alex Williams at or call 301-664-9664 and she can answer your questions.

PWNL Sliding-Scale Adoption Fee information may be found here.


Adoption Subsidy

Many families who adopt older children from the U.S. foster care system are eligible to receive a monthly subsidy to help offset the expenses they incur for seeking specialized therapeutic and academic post-placement support services. This monthly subsidy varies by state and by the needs of the child, but once established, is often provided until the child turns 18.