Recruiting coordinator Erin Heflin speaks in front of a class of about fifteen men and women at the DePelchin Children’s Center. It’s an orientation session for people considering being a foster parent or adopting. She says there are usually lots of questions.
"Why are there so many different agencies, or why is one better than the other. Each agency has different resources and different things they can offer families."
Heflin does her best to explain the foster and adoption process. DePelchin’s children all come from child protective services. The children will have access to free counseling and therapy and also get free college tuition to any Texas state school.
Still Heflin says the biggest question or concern from interested families is money.
"Do I have to have a lot of money to do this, whether it be foster care of adoption? And the answer is no. Many people don’t know that you can go through this process and adopt a sibling group of children for no money out of your pocket."
If you’ve heard stories about couples paying $10,000 or $20,000 to adopt, that’s usually from agencies that deal with women who aren’t necessarily in trouble with the law, but simply don’t want to keep the baby for whatever reason. And since many couples want to do want to adopt babies, agencies say that makes it harder for older children, who are in the system, to be adopted.
"It is tough because a lot of people coming to us do want to adopt babies and while it is possible the way to do that is to foster them first. The majority of our children will be adopted by their foster parents."
Anna Khan attended the orientation meeting and is one of those people looking to adopt. But she doesn’t think she can handle being a foster parent first.
"For me fostering a child to adopt and then for them to be taken away is going to be very hard. I’m a very emotional person, we’re a very emotional family. We’re loving, you know when I have my nieces and nephews over, I don’t want to let them go. It's hard, you know, but to see a child that needs what they need and then to see them go and not be able to be there for them anymore, it’s hard. So I’d rather just keep them for me, and they can grow up with us and do whatever they want with their life."
Since being a foster parent isn’t a requirement, Khan says she’ll probably just go for a child who’s parents have already terminated their parental rights. One other note, to foster or adopt with DePelchin, you don’t have to be married or own your own home.