Adopting a child through an agency isn't the only way to find the perfect child for your family, especially if you're looking to adopt an older child.
There are hundreds of thousands of children between the ages of near-infant to teen and young adult in the American foster care system - all of which need loving homes while state agencies and the welfare system work to reconcile the relationship between the child and his or her birth family or guardian.
If you're looking to adopt from a state agency, the agency case workers may ask you to consider fostering a child first. About 25 percent of the children looking for foster homes are also waiting to be placed with an adoptive family. Many state agencies prefer that older children are fostered by a family prior to being adopted, as it makes the transition smoother for both parties. Nearly 10 percent of all children in foster care are in pre-adoptive or trial home visits, according to data released in July 2010 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children & Families.
Foster care takes a special state of mind, especially if you have cared for a child for two years and he or she is returned to his or her birth parents. However, many find that foster care can be a rewarding, loving experience and may even inform your future adoption preferences.