If you want to adopt a child from the foster care system in this country, follow these 10 steps to your new family!
1. LEARN about Adoption
Being here is a good first step. Read through all of the information available here and in the All About Adoption sections. Check out our online course "Foster Family to Forever Family".
You may also want to look for books and magazines about adoption at bookstores, libraries and on other websites. Attend an adoptive parents' support group or adoption conferences. Visit adoption agencies' websites.
2. SELECT an Agency
You must work with an agency licensed in the state where you live. Contact several agencies to ask about the type of children they place, their fee structure, how they assess and prepare families, and how long it will take. Get references: speak with other parents who have used the agency you are investigating. Check whether the agency is licensed by your state to provide adoption services. You do not need an attorney at this point, but you may want to ask which legal services will be provided by your agency and which services you may be responsible for on your own. Visit AdoptMatch for agencies in your area.
3. COMPLETE a Homestudy
A homestudy is a series of meetings between you and an agency social worker. Think of it as an ongoing conversation which is part of the adoption process and prepares you for parenting. The social worker who prepares your homestudy will need to ask you for certain documents such as birth certificates, marriage license, child abuse clearances and personal references before finalizing his or her report. At least one meeting will be at your home. All individuals who live in your home will need to attend. The social worker is not there to do a “white glove” inspection of your home, but is there to ensure that you and your family are prepared to have a child or youth in your home and that you are ready to parent. Your social worker can also answer questions for you and point you in the direction of further resources to support you as you move along on your journey.
4. SEARCH for a Child
You begin the search for a child, teenager or sibling group when your homestudy is complete. Your agency will have children in its care or your worker will search for a child for you by networking with other child placing agencies. You can also be active in the search. View our waiting children. Explore other exchanges' or agencies' photolistings of children.
5. EXCHANGE Information with Child's Agency
When you locate a child who seems like the right match to all parties involved, your worker and the child's worker exchange information. Your homestudy is sent. If the child's worker is interested in your family, you may then receive the child’s profile. This step of the process may take some time and calls for both patience and persistence.
6. LEARN that You Have Been Selected for a Child
You and several other families may be considered at the same time. The child's worker makes the final decision on which family can best meet the child's needs. When you are selected, more confidential information is shared, so that you can be sure this is the child for you. If the child's parental rights are not legally terminated, it will be done at this time.
7. MEET and VISIT with the Child
The first meeting with the child is followed by several visits over a few weeks or months. If the child lives in another state, the child's agency will work with you to arrange for at least one or two visits. Paperwork, such as the Interstate Compact or adoption assistance agreement, is completed. You are getting ready to add a new child to your life.
8. RECEIVE a Placement
The placement date is when the child comes to live in your home. Your agency will visit and work with you for several months in post-placement supervision. During this time you file a legal intent to adopt petition.
9. FINALIZE Your Adoption
Your child or teenager becomes a legal part of your family when you attend a court session where a judge finalizes your adoption. You will receive an amended birth certificate that names you as parents and a certificate of adoption.
10. LIVE AS AN ADOPTIVE FAMILY
Adoption doesn't end after finalization. You will continue to learn about adoptive parenting. Talk with your child and others about adoption, find support and services for your child's needs, and connect with other adoptive parents. And, when you are ready, consider adopting again.