Baptism for an older foster child

I have a nine year old foster daughter who desires baptism. It is possible she will return home, where she would have little or no support for her faith. Her family is not Catholic. I don’t want to prevent her from being adopted into God’s Family, but at this age, she would ordinarily enter RCIA for children and prepare for full initiation into the Catholic Church, and with a future so uncertain, that doesn’t seem like the right course. Is it permissible for a Catholic family to have a foster child “baptized protestant“ (so to speak) so she could have the graces of the sacrament now, and then do RCIA and full initiation if she becomes our adoptive daughter?

I think the best person to ask is the person at the foster care agency. There may be laws about what is allowed. It doesn’t hurt to ask if it would be permissible.

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Infant (0 through 6), minor (7-17), majority (18 and later). Adult baptism is required for a minor, if the use of reason has occurred. Adult baptism requires some training.

CIC

Can. 97 §1. A person who has completed the eighteenth year of age has reached majority; below this age, a person is a minor.
§2. A minor before the completion of the seventh year is called an infant and is considered not responsible for oneself ( non sui compos ). With the completion of the seventh year, however, a minor is presumed to have the use of reason.

Can. 852 §1. The prescripts of the canons on adult baptism are to be applied to all those who, no longer infants, have attained the use of reason.
§2. A person who is not responsible for oneself ( non sui compos ) is also regarded as an infant with respect to baptism.

Can. 865 §1. For an adult to be baptized, the person must have manifested the intention to receive baptism, have been instructed sufficiently about the truths of the faith and Christian obligations, and have been tested in the Christian life through the catechumenate. The adult is also to be urged to have sorrow for personal sins.
§2. An adult in danger of death can be baptized if, having some knowledge of the principal truths of the faith, the person has manifested in any way at all the intention to receive baptism and promises to observe the commandments of the Christian religion.

Can. 866 Unless there is a grave reason to the contrary, an adult who is baptized is to be confirmed immediately after baptism and is to participate in the eucharistic celebration also by receiving communion.

Just call the parish priest and meet with him - your daughter, your husband, and yourself.

Since she has acquired the age of reason and asked for baptism of her own accord, it should be given.

The priest can arrange private preparation for her, and not require a lengthy RCIA formation.

The fact that she may have different parents in the future does not impede her [correct] desire for the saving waters now. She needs graces now, and wants them.

Thanks for being Christ to her,
Deacon Christopher

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From a legal perspective, the birth parents’consent may well be necessary, and the priest might refuse to do it without certain legal requirements being met. I would recommend speaking to both your priest and the placement agency. Unfortunately, from a civil legal perspective, a 9-year-old is probably not allowed to just make this decision on her own.

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I would agree with advice that you simply visit with your priest.

That sounds very sensible. As far as laws and regulations go, this matter seems to fall into God’s jurisdiction, not Ceasar’s.

Again, I would speak with a priest.

All very well and good until someone decides to sue or remove the child from the home.

Priests also don’t just always agree to baptize a child who may not be permanently staying in the Catholic home.

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It’s a Baptism, not a circumcision.
Considering that eternal salvation may be at stake, courage and faith merit consideration as well.

Perhaps this child might be blessed with a priest who will. That will be his call, not ours.

Thos is true: a reasonable expectation that the child will be “raised Catholic” is a requirement which might preclude baptism in this situation.

Very good points.

How sad that a child may choose his or her gender but not his or her religion…

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This is also true from a canonical perspective. Baptism of a child cannot be done without the parents consent. If / when she is adopted then baptism (and the other sacraments of initiation) can take place.

Baptism is about more than just sacramental grace - it’s about initiation into membership of a faith community. It wouldn’t be appropriate for her to be baptised at this stage given that her present circumstances and uncertain future means that she would not realistically become part of the faith community which she was being baptised into.

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Foster carer and adoptive parent in the UK here.

In the UK this falls into the area of parental consent and it can get quite complicated. Typically you would be required to keep the child in the faith their biological parents prefer, this is a legal requirement and there is social worker follow up on this point. This applies regardless of the carers faith, so if you’re Catholic and the child is for example JW, if your mass and the child’s meeting are at the same time then you’re going to the meeting.

These rules apply to you until one of three things happen;

  1. The child returns home. (Obviously)
  2. You adopt the child. Then what religion you want to bring the child up in applies, however if the child is as old as 7 you would probably be advised to continue with child’s current faith to provide more stability.
  3. Either a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) or a Child Permanency Order (CPO) is applied. This is one of those typically applies rules, under an SGO its definitely fine under a CPO it’s a little more grey.

My advice would be in order;

  1. Speak to your Supervising Social Worker (SSW).
  2. Speak to the child’s social worker.
  3. Speak to the child.
  4. If you have direct contact speak to the biological parents.
  5. Speak to you priest.

Tl;dr, don’t do this without seeking professional advice.

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