North Carolina agency speaks on adoption screening and fostering process

Following the disturbing murder charge related to allegations that a man killed his 6-week-old adopted son, WBTV has investigated how the adoption process works.
Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 7:01 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) - Right now, an alleged crime surrounding a Gastonia adoptive father is drawing up a lot of questions about the adoption and foster care screening processes.

WBTV was there as Van Erick Custodio made his first court appearance yesterday on a murder charge.

Police say the former UNC Charlotte and Belmont Abbey professor abused a 6-week-old baby, who later died.

In Custodio’s quiet Gastonia neighborhood, people say they see a lot of children, but they didn’t see much of Custodio and his wife or their adopted children, but they donated to help him adopt one of them.

“We’re here to talk about our story to see if we can get help to match our next adoption,” Custodio said in a video with his family that was posted online.

He seemed happy.

A drastic difference from the former college professor today, charged with murder in the death of his 6-week-old adopted son.

“Unfortunately, there’s not a metric, an assessment, an analytical tool that will say hey this person is going to hurt a child,” Executive Director of Seven Homes adoption and foster care agency Ken Maxwell said.

Maxwell also said, though, there is an extensive screening process for potential parents.

First a caseworker goes to the home and gets to know the family.

Then, there’s a two-and-a-half month process of training in order to be licensed as a foster family.

“In that meeting once a week for three hours, they are also getting the fire inspection of their home, getting their environmental inspection, they’re doing their criminal background checks,” Maxwell said.

They meet with couples together and as a couple with any children.

The process can take anywhere from four to six months.

“The state needs more foster parents, so there’s more variety of families for Department of Social Services to choose from, so that we can match needs of the child with the strengths of the family,” he said.

Maxwell says, when the number of children in foster care outnumber the number of foster care parents, it can be more challenging to get the right placement.

Copyright 2022 WBTV. All rights reserved.