Newly downsized baby boomers and empty nesters in Illinois may have a rewarding experience when taking in a foster child while he or she is in search of a forever home. In Winnebago County, there are approximately 600 children who are in foster care, as reported by the Rockford Register Star. Unlike adoption, foster parents provide temporary care for a child while their biological family is going through a crisis.

Foster children are initially in the care of the Department of Children & Family Services, and a court helps place them with temporary foster parents. Older, retired couples with free time available to devote toward parenting may be a suitable match for displaced children and teenagers. Receiving a phone call to take in a needy kid at a moment’s notice is not uncommon.

Adopting children who are already known

Some foster parents find their potential children through their own relatives. In some cases, they come across the kids wandering the streets. Signs of abuse, hunger and neglect might trigger contacting a caseworker at DCFS to investigate a child’s living conditions. If the agency finds that parents are not providing a safe and healthy home environment, the children may require foster care through the court system.

Most foster kids reunite with their families later when conditions at home improve. Some foster children, however, do not return to their homes; their foster parents permanently adopt them instead.

Financial assistance may be available for retirees who legally adopt children

Fostering children on a temporary basis allows them to get to know a couple and see how a permanent living arrangement may work out. If a strong bond develops and the child is unable to return to his or her biological family, legally adopting the foster child might be a good option. Retired baby boomers who adopt a child permanently not only provide a safe and loving home environment, but may also receive financial assistance.

According to AARP, retirees receiving Social Security or disability income who legally adopt may apply for their children’s auxiliary benefits. While this is not the primary reason to consider adoption, an additional assurance that a child’s care can be assisted by increased Social Security benefits may help foster kids find a good home.