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How to Adopt

Adoption
Resources:

Federal Law - Expanded Access to College Financial Aid for Former Foster Youth - Voice for Adoption

How to Adopt and more FAQ's from CWLA

.AdoptUsKids - National Photo Listing of Children Waiting for Adoption

.Your State's - Adoption Information

 

Basic Steps to Adopt:

Pick up the phone to talk to your your state's child welfare staff or to private child placing agency staff in your state. Many states have interest forms you can fill out online to receive more information.

Most states also offer preliminary foster care and adoption information meetings, then training may be provided and a family home study will be completed. Cost is dependent on whether you choose to go through a state child welfare agency or a private child placing agency.

In any case, before you can adopt you will need to have a current (within a year) home study. The home study fully explores your motivation to adopt and the type of children you are willing and able to parent.

Once this is done, you may call, e-mail or fill out an interest form on the child or sibling group you are interested in any state in the US. If you are considered for a child you have expressed interest in your caseworker is contacted by the child's caseworker for an initial exchange of information, (i.e., your adoption preferences and skills and the child's special needs).

If both caseworkers agree that this may be a possible match you are contacted by your caseworker. Your caseworker will share additional information on the child or sibling group with you. If you are still interested then your home study is sent in to the child's caseworker for review and a selection staffing is held for the child. At least 1 or more family home studies are reviewed to make a selection for the children.

If you are selected, your caseworker is advised and you will be allowed to read information about the children. If you are still interested then you will meet the children and have preplacement visits, maybe some overnight visits before the children are placed with you.

You will qualify for adoption tax credits. Subsidy and college tuition waivers for the children may be available if they qualify. Once placed, the adoption will not be final (legally consumated) for at least another 6 months after they are placed with you. You will receive support services during that time.

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To Adopt A Child

Adoption is a lifelong commitment to a child

  • You must be a mature and responsible adult
  • You may rent or own your home, as long as you have stable housing
  • You must have adequate income to meet your family's needs
  • You can work outside the home, stay at home or be retired
  • You may be married, divorced, widowed or single - with or without children
  • You and all adults in your home must pass a background screening
  • You must complete free special training and have an adoptive home study completed

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Support For Adoptive Parents and Children

Children grow best in families

  • Tax credits -IRS and Topic 607 - Adoption Credit
  • Adoption subsidy payments may be available to parents adopting children with "special needs".
  • Medical assistance may be available for the child through age 18.
  • Most expenses related to the adoption (such as court costs and attorney fees) are eligible for reimbursement. Some states may reimburse up to $1,000 for adoption finalization fees.
  • Tuition waivers - Children adopted from some states are eligible to receive up to four years of paid college tuition at universities, colleges or vocational programs.
  • Adoption Support Groups - Support groups for families awaiting an adoptive match may be available in your state. In addition, other community-based support groups and services may be available.
  • Expanded Access to College Financial Aid for Former Foster Youth - Voice for Adoption

 

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"Special Needs" Children

"Special Needs" does not always mean that the child has a physical, mental or emotional disability. However, the child/ren will qualify for special finacial assisstance if they meet one (1) or more of the "special needs" criteria below.

Sometimes love is not enough

  • The child is age 2 and part of a minority
  • The child is at least eight years old
  • The child is mentally, physically, or emotionally disabled
  • The child belongs to an ethnic minority
  • The child is a part of a sibling group who need to be placed together

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Frequently Asked Questions About Adoption

Many parents are reluctant to adopt children from the state, in part due to misinformation about adoption of children from foster care. Here are answers to some questions about adoption of foster children. (excerpt from the Florida Department of Children & Families)

Q: Isn't it expensive to adopt children?

A: A private adoption agency may charge $20,000 or more. Almost all of the expenses in a public (state) adoption are covered by the state, including court and attorney fees.

Q: How can I afford to raise a child through adoption?

A: Parents who adopt children from foster care are eligible for programs designed to ease the financial burden. See Support For Adoptive Parents and Children above.

Q: How long does it take to adopt a foster child?

A:The entire adoption process, including orientation, training, background-screening, home visits and the legal formalities, can be completed in about nine months.

Q: What if my adopted child's birth parents change their minds? Can I lose a child I've grown to love?

A: No. In the state child welfare system, children do not become eligible for adoption until the rights of their birth parents to raise them have been permanently terminated by a judge.

Q: Aren't many of the abused or neglected children hardened, difficult and unruly?

A: Many of the children waiting for adoption through the state child welfare system have endured serious trauma and losses in their young lives. Nearly half of all foster children have special needs, meaning they are either developmentally delayed, physically disabled or suffer mental or emotional disabilities. These are often the children who have the greatest need for a loving, stable and nurturing home.

That's why, child welfare administrators say, the adoption process focuses so heavily on building trust among prospective parents and the children they want to adopt.

The free prospective parent training offered ensures expectations are realistic for everyone involved. Through the state, all adoptive parents receive training on the dynamics of abuse and neglect and child behaviors and they have the opportunity to meet with other adoptive parents to learn what they may experience.

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