The Barker Adoption Foundation’s Project Wait No Longer-Older Child Adoption from Foster Care (PWNL) program seeks to find families for children whose circumstances resulted in their being placed into public foster care. Most of these children are 10−17 years old, have some degree of special needs, are of various ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds, and may be part of a sibling group.
PWNL is seeking married couples and singles who have an unconditional commitment to providing permanent and loving families for older youth. Barker welcomes adoption applications from couples and individuals of all ages, all religious and ethnic backgrounds, and all sexual orientations and gender expressions. However, families should be aware that each of the 50 states has specific adoption legislation and has its own legal restrictions on adoption. Barker and our clients must abide by the adoption laws in the state where the family resides and the state from which they are adopting. Barker welcomes all inquiries.
The adoption process includes the following chronological steps:
Since 1945, Barker has been serving children and families in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, making it the fourth-oldest private adoption agency in the nation. Barker upholds a philosophy of excellence in ethical adoption and continual care throughout the adoption process. We have a strong history of pre-adoption education and preparation for prospective parents and lifetime post-placement support services. Dedicated adoption professionals are here for you and always respond in a timely fashion to your questions and requests. The hallmark of our program is our partnership with public child welfare departments with the shared goal of meeting the needs of older children.
The Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education (PRIDE) Training is a thorough, four-part training program designed to prepare parents for adopting older children through the foster care system. Click for more information about the goals and details of training.
Deciding to adopt an older child is a process that requires patience. The training is specifically designed to educate and address the joys and challenges specific to older child adoption. While many who attend the training make the decision to proceed, there is no pressure to move forward with the program. We generally recommend doing the training before applying to the program to make sure PWNL is a good fit for your family.
Families who have taken PRIDE within the past three years should contact PWNL to discuss a reduction in the training requirement. If PRIDE was taken more than 3 years ago, families are required to complete the training in its entirety again.
A home study is required of all prospective adoptive parents. It consists of a series of interviews with a knowledgeable and caring social worker, who will assist you in making well-informed decisions related to parenting older children. During your home study, your social worker will evaluate your readiness for older child adoption. The home study generally takes four to six weeks after the paperwork is submitted. Click to read more information about the home study process.
At this time, PWNL does not accept home studies from other agencies. The social worker who completes your home study is the same social worker who will provide your post-placement support. In our experience, it is extremely valuable to have a relationship with your social worker before navigating the often challenging waters of post-placement. For this reason, every family adopting from PWNL is required to have a home study completed by Barker.
The fees associated with PWNL are offered on a sliding scale ranging from $3,500 to $8,000, depending on your household income. Because PWNL contracts with public agencies, much of your cost for the program can often be reimbursed by the state. However, families must be prepared to pay the fees associated with the program. Many of the children we place are eligible for a monthly adoption subsidy, which will be paid to their parents until the child turns 18. Health insurance is often available until the child is 18. The current fee structure may be found here.
Prospective applicants often research their options extensively before the home study. Generally, applicants do not apply to multiple programs simultaneously; however, once an adoption is completed, parents sometimes desire to use another Barker program as they build their family. The various adoption programs have different processes, challenges, and rewards and are best addressed one at a time. Because children adopted at an older age often have specialized needs, concurrent adoption is generally discouraged when working with PWNL.
PWNL focuses on placing the most vulnerable children from the foster care system. Younger children are often adopted by their foster family unless they have a higher level of special needs. Although PWNL places children younger than age 10, most of these children are a part of larger sibling groups (three or more) or have a higher level of special needs. We require that any family choosing to work with PWNL be open to children with a minimum age between 10 and 12, even if they are open to considering younger children as well.
Children placed through PWNL generally have challenges with one or more of the following:
Taking the required older child PRIDE adoption training can help families better understand these special needs and identify which challenges they are prepared to parent.
Barker strongly supports the spirit of openness for all families. However, considering the circumstances that resulted in most children being placed into foster care, many children adopted from the foster care system do not have a direct relationship with their birth parents. The children may ask for continued contact with siblings or extended family members, previous foster families, and friends. It is rare, however, that children are able to maintain an ongoing relationship with birth parents.