About Adoption

WHAT IS ADOPTION?

Adoption is the permanent, legal transfer of all parental rights and obligations from one person or couple to another person or couple. Adoptive parents have the same rights and responsibilities as parents whose children were born to them. An adopted child has the same legal rights and privileges as birth children.

 

People can adopt children from foster care (also called public agency adoption and sometimes special needs adoption), private domestic agencies, or from other countries (called intercountry). People also adopt their stepchildren or other children know to them. Foster care and international adoptions are almost always completed through a licensed adoption agency. Private adoptions may be done through an agency or an attorney.

 

The information provided below is primarily geared toward adoptions from the public child welfare system. These children are typically in foster care because their birth parents weren’t able to safely care for them and most have experienced neglect or abuse.

 

To find information about international adoptions, we recommend you visit the US Department of State’s Intercountry Adoption website.

 

ADOPTING FROM FOSTER CARE

Adopting from foster care is similar to other types of adoption in that after all of the decision making, paperwork, and preparation are completed, parents and children are officially a family. But foster care adoptions are different in a few important ways:

  • Though it is possible to adopt an infant from foster care, the average age of children waiting to be adopted from foster care is about eight years old.
  • Because all children in foster care have experienced some form of trauma, parents who adopt from foster care undergo specific training to understand the effects of trauma and help children heal .
  • Parents who adopt from foster care usually work with a public agency or a private agency that has contracted with the state to provide services.
  • Adopting from foster care costs little to no money.

 

Read more about the different types of adoptions in Adoption Options: Where Do I Start? (add hyper link- can be found on child welfare information gateway)

 

WHO ARE THE CHILDREN WHO ARE AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION IN FOSTER CARE?
 Most children in foster care return to their birth parents or go to live with relatives. Children in foster care who cannot return home often become eligible to be adopted.  More than 100,000 children in foster care are waiting for permanent adoptive families. Most are school-aged or older. They are often brothers and sisters who need to stay together. Many are children of color. Many have emotional, physical, behavioral, or learning disabilities or challenges. But they are also kids like any other children you know and love. All are waiting for the love and security that only a permanent family can offer.

IF I AM ONLY INTERESTED IN ADOPTING, SHOULD I ALSO GET APPROVED TO FOSTER?

Some states have a separate process for foster care and adoption but some states use the same process. There are several compelling reasons to get licensed to foster even if your main intent is to adopt:

  • Your state may require that you do. This is referred to as being “dual licensed.”
  • Even if your state allows parents to be approved to only adopt to begin the process, it will almost invariably require you to be approved to foster before a child is physically placed in your home for the purpose of adoption. Being approved as a foster parent when you are matched with a child will allow you to avoid the needless delay of completing additional paperwork and processes before the child can be placed into your home.
  • Being dual licensed can potentially make your family a more desirable placement, especially when you are applying to adopt a child from another state. This is because the placement of a child can be made more quickly if you have already completed the additional paperwork and approvals to foster.
  • Families that fostered usually have a more realistic understanding of the child’s strength and challenges, have a better understanding of their roles and become more adept at navigating and advocating for children with special needs.
  • A child placed with you will continue to receive financial support to help meet their needs. You will avoid a potential disruption in assistance that could occur while you become licensed to foster and before you can access any post-adoption financial support that might be available.

 

WHO CAN ADOPT?

All kinds of people can adopt. Agencies will consider single, married, divorced, and gay and lesbian applicants. Applicants can have children or not. Agency requirements vary, but the age range is usually 25 and up.  It’s OK to rent an apartment or to own your home. Successful adoption applicants have a wide range of incomes and a variety of jobs. The key is that adoptive parents have to be able to care for children and meet their needs.

 

CAN I ADOPT A CHILD OF ANOTHER RACE?

Yes. The Multi-Ethnic Placement Act and subsequent revisions bar agencies that receive federal funding from discriminating based on race when considering adoption opportunities for children .

 

IF I AM LGBT, CAN I ADOPT?

Yes. Individuals and couples who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender can and are adopting across the US. For a list of agencies that have certified as LGBT-competent, visit http://www.hrc.org/resources/all-children-all-families-list-of-participa...

 

CAN CHILDREN BE ADOPTED FROM ANOTHER STATE?

Yes, families can adopt children who are in the child welfare system in another state.  Adoptions across state lines are governed by the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). This agreement, between all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, ensures that children placed across state lines will be placed in safe, suitable environments and with people who are qualified to care for them.  The ADOPTUSKids website has information about adopting children across state lines as well as a directory of children across the United States that are in need of an adoptive family.

 

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO ADOPT?

The time frame, like the cost, varies with the agency, the pace that families go through the requirements and the type of child being adopted. It often takes many months to be approved to adopt (see home study information below) and then additional time to find the child or children for whom your family is right.

 

IS SPECIAL TRAINING REQUIRED TO BECOME AN ADOPTIVE PARENT?

Yes, although each state has its own specific requirements. Before you can become a foster or adoptive parent you are required to complete a training where you learn about the children’s needs, the effects of trauma, how to respond to challenging behaviors, where to find support, and much more.  Agencies often offer an orientation that families can attend to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the adoption process and the requirements that they will need to meet.

 

WHAT IS A HOME STUDY?

Everyone who adopts from foster care has to have an approved home study, an educational process designed to help the agency get to know you and teach you about adoption and its impact on children and families. Agencies want to ensure that a person or couple can provide a safe and nurturing environment for a new child in their home. The home study process varies from state to state and agency to agency. This process usually entails the prospective parent(s) providing information about themselves and their life experiences, an inspection done of the home to ensure it meets the state’s requirements, and background checks completed on all adults in the home.  The home study process involves all members of the household and it is designed to engage the family in the process of self- evaluating their strengths, support systems, training needs, motivation and ability to parent.

 

CAN THE BIRTH PARENTS TAKE A CHILD BACK?

For a child to be adopted, the birth parents have to relinquish legal custody or their rights have to be terminated. That means the birth parents do not have the right to take their child back. But many adoptions today are open in some way, with children knowing about their birth parents or having connections with birth family members.

 

 

WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE TO FAMILIES WHO ADOPT?

Financial assistance is available to cover all or most of the costs of adopting children from foster care. For most children adopted from foster care, adoption assistance or adoption subsidies are offered to help defray the costs of raising a child and meet the child’s needs. The subsidy may include a monthly care payment, medical assistance coverage, and a one-time cash payment to offset any initial adoption costs. Talk to your agency about fees and services and supports that will be available to you prior to and after the adoption is finalized .

 Learn more about trauma at the AdoptUSKids website. http://www.adoptuskids.org/meet-the-children/children-in-foster-care/abo...

 We are posting new content about transracial adoption and maintaining cultural connections next week. I will send you a link as soon as it is live.

  Learn more about the support available to families who adopt at the AdoptUSKids website. http://www.adoptuskids.org/adoption-and-foster-care/parenting-support/fo...

 

Thank you to AdoptUSKids and Children Awaiting Parents for allowing us to adapt the information below. For more information about adoption, please visit their sites:

 
Additional Links to Other Resources:
 

www.adoptuskids.org AdoptUSKids is a national project that supports child welfare systems and connects children in foster care with families.

www.adoption.com Explains the various types of adoptions.

www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/ The Child Welfare Information Gateway, a collection and archive of adoption and foster care resources.

www.nacac.org/policy/statefactsheets.html (State-by-state fact sheets on adoption)