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Our Policies

Social Media Policy

Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) Policy

Subsidized Guardianship Policy

Match Party Policy

Adoption Assistance

Race and Adoption

Sibling Adoption

Child Descriptions Policy

Adoptive Parent Homestudies

Adoption Benefits

Adoptive Parent Assessments

Post Adoption

Adoption and Geography

Open Records

Adoption by Members of the LGBT Community

Adoption and the Schools

Use of Adoptive Exchanges

 

Social Media Statement
The National Adoption Center believes that social media—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and others--are welcome and evolving methods of communication.  We also believe that the impact of social media on adoption is significant and, along with its benefits, raise issues of safety and privacy.   The National Adoption Center recommends that best practice include the following considerations:
  • Case Managers:  

Case managers should educate youth in their caseload about responsible use of social media, highlighting the unique needs of those in foster care. The pitfalls of online communication could include:  privacy violations, misunderstandings and vulnerability to messages that may include bullying or harassing content. Youth should be encouraged to share with his/her case worker the way she or he is using social media and alert the worker about any questionable messages received. It should be emphasized that the case worker needs to work with the youth about any contact he or she wants to initiate, for example, with birth parents or prospective adopters. The case manager should make every effort to keep open the lines of communication about the use of social media.

  • Prospective adopters:

Those prospective adopters seeking infants are served best when they work with a licensed adoption agency. Although it is tempting to use social media to spread the word, those wishing to adopt must be aware of scams and bogus promises.  We encourage that prospective adopters seeking an infant placement use common sense and check with a credentialed adoption organization or parent support group as they proceed. 

Those prospective adopters seeking adoption from foster care should be aware that many youth in foster care have access to social media, including Facebook.   If a prospective adopter is contacted through social media by a youth whom they may have met a match event or through their adoption agency, the family should contact the youth’s case manager for guidance.   
  • Adoptive parents: 

Adoptive parents should be aware that youth who are adopted may use social media to search for their birth parents. The National Adoption Center believes that parents should support their children who feel the need to learn more about their history and who want to be connected with their birth parents, siblings or extended birth family, as long as safety or the emotional stability of the youth is not an issue.   We believe that when a youth who is adopted is supported by his parents, he will be less likely to search alone.  

  • Adoption Agencies:

Adoption Agencies should inform, prepare and educate adoptive families about the potential for birth parent contact through social media.    When possible, a post placement specialist should be designated to assist the adoptive family with this contact.    

  • Birth Parents:

Maintaining a supportive and stable home life is the goal of all adults involved in adoption. Most birth parents respect the role of the adoptive parent; however, there are instances when boundaries may get blurred and behaviors become potentially damaging to the child who has been adopted. It benefits the child when birth parents recognize that, depending on circumstances and the child’s age, connections with him or her may produce unexpected  outcomes and emotional stress.  It is helpful before contact is initiated that birth parents determine the kind of relationship that is desirable and possible. Caseworkers and other professionals are available to help discuss this issue with the birth parents and work on what’s best for all involved.

It is in the best interest of the child or youth when adoptive parents, caseworkers and birth parents agree to the timing and frequency of the contact and the type of information shared. Counseling can assist the youth who may be struggling with the need to learn more about his/her birth parents and the desire to initiate contact.

This statement has been developed as a means of communicating a “best practices” model.  Because of advancements in social media, the National Adoption Center recommends that social media statements/policies be reviewed and revised annually to reflect the integrity of the adoption process and the needs of the adoption community.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2013

Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) Policy

The National Adoption Center believes that all children/youth in foster care deserve the opportunity for a permanent relationship with a family before aging out of the foster care system at the age of 18 or 21. After achieving safety, the Center urges that permanency must be the focus of child welfare agencies and professionals, to assure that children/youth can grow up in lasting relationships that offer love and stability, and that meet their psychological, social, emotional, educational, and physical health needs.

Toward that end, child welfare agencies and professionals should exhaust every effort to find an adoptive family for all children/youth who do not have a permanent family resource, regardless of their age. The goal of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) should have limited use with the following taken into consideration when assigning this goal:

  • Rigorous procedures are in place for the approval of an APPLA goal and that APPLA cases are reviewed at regular intervals to determine if a different plan might be more appropriate.
  • Children/youth should receive professional counseling and age-appropriate information about adoption before being able to decide that adoption is not their choice for permanency.
  • APPLA should be considered a permanency goal only after all other options have been considered by more than one child-serving agency and/or professional involved with the child/youth. In addition:
    • All children/youth should participate, when possible and appropriate, when this goal is being considered.
    • A court has determined there are compelling case specific reasons that rule out all other permanency options i.e., reunification, legal guardianship, placement with a fit and willing relative and adoption.

Approved by the Board of Directors - September 20, 2011

 

Subsidized Guardianship Policy

The National Adoption Center believes that adoption is the best option for children whose birthparents cannot take care of them; however, it recognizes that in cases where adoption is not possible, legal guardianship is a viable alternative.

Permanent legal guardians have full responsibility for the children in their care, making decisions about such issues as medical care, educational needs, out-of-state vacations and sleep-overs with friends without having to report to caseworkers and the courts. This results in a substantial savings of time and money. In those cases, where the guardian often a relative -- has agreed to provide a safe, loving home for a child, the Center believes that subsidies should be provided. Subsidized guardianship programs allow children to be free of the constraints of foster care and live a life that more closely mirrors that of children being raised by their birth parents. Specifically the Center believes that foster children and youth placed in permanent legal guardianships should:

  • Be entitled to federal Title-IV E reimbursement and receive at least the same level of support and benefits as do children in foster family care and in adoptive families.
  • Have their guardianship benefits adjusted as their needs and age change.
  • Maintain their eligibility for future adoption assistance benefits should there come a time that adoption becomes the preferred permanency option.

Approved by the Board of Directors - December 16, 2009

 

Match Party Policy

The National Adoption Center believes that match parties are one of the most effective methods of finding families for waiting children. The face-to-face interaction of families and children often breaks down the preconceived beliefs families may have about adopting children from foster care. However, because the children attending match parties are vulnerable, providing an enjoyable, safe experience for them must also be a priority.

To achieve this goal, the Center believes the following components are necessary:

  • preparation and selection of children who would be comfortable at the event. This includes taking into account the ages and amount of time in foster care of the child/youth. Groups of teens have been successfully engaged in helping to plan events that reflect their interests and empower them in the matching experience.
  • preparation and education of families prior to and during the event
  • preparation and education of social workers prior to the event

It is essential that advocates for the children and families follow up on potential matches resulting from the event. This will make the most of the opportunities generated by the match party for finding adoptive homes for children.

Approved by the Board of Directors - December 16, 2009

 

Adoption Assistance

Adoption assistance provides families willing and committed to adopt a child with special needs with the financial means to do so.

The National Adoption Center believes that all children with special needs should be eligible for adoption assistance regardless of the income of their birthparents or previous adoptive parents. Additionally, the Center believes that a family must be able to obtain adoption assistance even when a child's special needs have not been determined before the adoption is finalized, but develop later.

In addition, children and youth adopted from foster care should be eligible for at least the same level of support and benefits (including any therapeutic or specialized rates) they would have received in family foster care.

Adoption assistance agreements should clearly state that they will remain active at least until a youth is 18. For youth with mental, physical, or behavioral special needs or other special circumstances, adoption assistance should be extended with state, federal or other funding until a youth reaches his or her 21st birthday.

Finally, the National Adoption Center advocates that adoption assistance agreements be reviewed and adjusted over time to realistically reflect and meet the child's needs.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June 2008

 

Race and Adoption

The National Adoption Center believes that every child should have a permanent and loving family. The longer a child remains without a parent (s), the more damaging it is to his or her identity, self-esteem and chances of growing into productive adulthood. It is our goal to find a loving home for each child as quickly as possible.

The Center does not discriminate because of race or ethnicity when considering adoption opportunities for children. In compliance with the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act, effective October 1995, the Center does not delay or deny to any person the opportunity to become an adoptive parent solely on the basis of their race, color or national origin.

The Center actively engages in the recruitment of families of color that fit the diverse culture of waiting children. If a transracial placement occurs, agencies should be required to provide additional support to preserve children's racial and cultural connections.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2008

 

Sibling Adoption

The National Adoption Center believes that siblings play an important role in the healthy development of children. Sibling relationships influence a child's ability to develop basic skills and promote socialization. Because of the unique lifelong nature of the sibling relationship and the pain experienced by children deprived of their siblings, the National Adoption Center actively recruits families for small and large sibling groups and encourages agencies which seek to separate siblings to consider other alternatives.

In cases when siblings must be separated because it is in their best interests, Center staff encourages families to maintain significant, ongoing contact among the children involved. Finally, we advocate strongly for sibling placements and speak out when inappropriate separations are planned.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2008

 

Child Descriptions Policy

The National Adoption Center believes that a well-written child description is critical in finding a permanent family for a waiting child or sibling group. Its purpose is to "introduce" the child to potential adopters. Therefore, it is the policy of the National Adoption Center that a description of a waiting child should always:

  • be accurate, personalized, balanced and respectful of the child's privacy;
  • be written in an interesting, concise and grammatically correct manner;
  • highlight the uniqueness and individuality of the child;
  • be written with the participation of the children, when they are interested and developmentally able to contribute, so that he or she is comfortable with his or her portrayal.

In addition, the Center believes it is important to consider that a child description is intended for the general public and is not intended to replace an in-depth presentation about the child to a selected, potential adoptive family.

This policy statement applies to all types of child specific recruitment including the Internet, photo listing books, flyers and other print media.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2008

 

Adoptive Parent Homestudies

The National Adoption Center believes that families who are interested in adopting U.S. waiting children are a valuable resource. When all agencies from across the country share access to their approved families, everyone benefits -- the waiting children, the families and agencies.

The Center believes that a family is entitled to receive a copy of its completed homestudy promptly. Further, an agency must release an approved homestudy either to the family or to another agency that requests it.

While individual states may have a standard for how long a homestudy is valid, the National Adoption Center recommends a homestudy should be considered valid in any jurisdiction for a minimum of one year.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2008

 

Adoption Benefits

The National Adoption Center believes that employers should address the needs of all employees who are building a family, whether through birth or adoption, by offering an equitable benefits policy. The costs of adopting, as well as the need for bonding and adjustment with a new child, parallel the experience of those who give birth. In addition, completing an adoption is often time-consuming and emotionally taxing, and can impinge on work time and productivity.

Our recommended best practice for an adoption benefits policy contains the following components:

  • Financial reimbursement to cover these and other reasonable costs: agency or homestudy fees; medical expenses of the child and/or birthmother; temporary foster care fees; legal fees; transportation costs; immigration fees in the case of international adoption.
  • Leave policies comparable to those offered to birthparents, to include paid leave in addition to sick, vacation and personal leave time.
  • Adoption Resource and Referral Services, including consultation and written information that will save an employee work time in completing the adoption process.

This policy has been developed as a means of communicating a "best practices" model and will be available to the media and to employers requesting information about the establishment of an adoption benefits plan.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2008

 

Adoptive Parent Assessments

We believe that every child has the right to a loving, nurturing and permanent family.

Therefore, it is the policy of the National Adoption Center that no person should be denied consideration in the adoption process solely based on marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, lifestyle, disability, physical appearance, race, gender, age, religion and/or size of family.

Approved by the Board of Directors – September, 2013

 

Post Adoption

The National Adoption Center believes that society benefits from intact families, including those created through adoption. While all families experience stress, families who have adopted, particularly those who have adopted children with known special needs, often have additional issues for which they need help. Services that address these needs may include, but not be limited to:

  • Information and Referral
  • Parent Support Groups
  • Therapeutic Support
  • Case Management
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Search/Reunion Assistance Community and Internet-based Education and Support
  • In-home Services for Children, Commonly Known as "Wraparound Services"
  • Respite Care
  • Residential Placement

The National Adoption Center believes that the availability and accessibility of post-adoption services are vital to adoptive family preservation and advocates that all adoptive families be informed of post-adoption services.

The Center further believes that states and adoption agencies should be required to develop and provide post-placement support services to families. To that end, all efforts should be made to ensure that existing funding streams are utilized by states to the fullest extent possible and, if necessary, that funding be increased in order to help meet the need.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2008

 

Adoption and Geography

For many children, an adoptive home cannot be located in their own county or state, and recruitment efforts must include a nationwide search for a permanent family. The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 recognizes the importance of going beyond geographic boundaries to place a child and prohibits denying or delaying a child's adoptive placement when an approved family is available outside of the child's jurisdiction.

The National Adoption Center supports this law and will actively advocate for all public and private agencies to comply with the act. It is the policy of the National Adoption Center that no individual or family should be denied the right to adopt a child because they do not reside within the jurisdiction of the child.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2008

 

Open Records

The National Adoption Center believes that it is an inalienable right of all citizens, including adopted adults, to have unencumbered access to their original birth certificates. In keeping with this position, we believe that copies of both the original and the amended birth certificate should be given to the adoptive family at the time of finalization unless specifically denied by the birthparents. In any case, the National Adoption Center advocates that the adoptee, at age 18, be granted access to his/her original birth certificate.

The National Adoption Center also supports an adult adoptee's unencumbered access to all medical and historical records.* These records should be given to adopting families prior to finalization.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June 15, 2000

*Historical records refer to that information acquired about the child before coming into his/her final adoption placement. Such information includes, but is not limited to, foster care placements, childhood photos, information about siblings, number of moves before adoption, reason for entering foster care, details of school history and related school documents and any early history of development which may include pertinent medical records. 

 

Adoption by Members of the LGBT Community

All prospective foster and adoptive parents should be given fair and equal consideration to provide foster care and to adopt a child who needs a permanent loving home. The National Adoption Center opposes any federal or state legislation as well as foster care and adoption agency policies that restrict or dismiss the consideration of current or prospective foster and adoptive parents based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Revised and Approved by the Board of Directors - December, 2008

 

Adoption and the Schools

The National Adoption Center believes that school culture is a microcosm of the community and therefore schools have the opportunity to recognize the diverse configuration of families, including families formed through adoption, by ensuring that family diversity is reflected in their curriculum and educational materials. Furthermore, it is important that educators recognize that there may be added developmental challenges, both academic and emotional, that affect children who are adopted and that adoption affects families over generations. Specifically, the Center recommends that schools:

  • Review and refine, if necessary, curriculum that deals with family trees, genetic history and other topics where adoption may be an issue.
  • Communicate with adoptive families about sensitive assignments on family history in advance of the lesson in order to allow the family to prepare the child who is adopted as well as communicate any special considerations to the school.
  • Establish policies that ensure that the confidentiality of shared information about a child's history is respected.
  • Make adoption literature available in school libraries.
  • Collaborate with adoptive families and draw upon their expertise as resources, particularly in November, which is National Adoption Month.
  • Ensure that all school personnel, including teachers, guidance counselors, school psychologists, administrators and support staff receive education and awareness materials about adoption issues, including the use of positive adoption language and sensitivity to emerging issues at different developmental stages.
  • Assign one of the school's professionals to the role of adoption coordinator/resource manager. Finally, the National Adoption Center believes that increasing adoption sensitivity and education in the schools will create a more positive learning environment for all students and their teachers.

Approved by the Board of Directors - March 18, 2004

 

Use of Adoptive Exchanges

The National Adoption Center believes that all U.S. children available to be adopted and needing a new placement should be visible to social workers and families from around the country. The Adoption and Safe Families Act, passed in November of 1997, supports this belief. It states that "case plans for children must document the steps an agency is taking to find a permanent family for a child, including child specific recruitment efforts such as the use of state, regional and national exchanges, including electronic exchange systems." In order to carry out this mandate, the Center believes, therefore, that all waiting U.S. children should be listed on all appropriate state, regional and national exchanges. In addition, families who have been approved to adopt by a licensed agency should be involved actively in searching for a child that would be a suitable "match" for them and also should be registered on all appropriate state, regional and national exchanges.

Approved by Board of Directors - December 1998