Frequently Asked Questions About Adoption
- What is foster care?
- What is adoption?
- Who can adopt?
- What are the basic steps?
- How long does it take to adopt a foster child?
- Isn't it expensive to adopt children?
- Can I lose the children I adopt?
- Aren't many of the abused or neglected children hardened,
difficult and unruly?
- "Special Needs" Children
- Support For Adoptive Parents and Children
- Where can I find out more info?
What is foster care?
- Foster care is...
- (hopefully) temporary care provided for a child when the child's natural parents are unavailable for them.
Unfortunately, some children are never able to return to their birth families, and remain in state supervised foster care until they are either adopted or reach adulthood.
What is adoption?
Kinds of adoption
- Adoption is...
- a lifelong commitment to a child
- Infant adoption through a private agency, usually from a birth mother.
- Foreign adoption through an agency specializing in foreign adoptions.
- Adoption from relatives by way of an agency or attorney.
- Adoption from foster care
Adoption is governed by state law. Most other kinds of adoption (rehoming) are illegal.
Who can adopt?
- 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.
What are the basic steps?
Pick up the phone to talk to your state's child welfare staff
or to a private adoption agency in your state.
Many states and agencies have interest forms you can fill out online to receive more information.
The process is similar in most states.
Most states also offer preliminary foster care and adoption information
meetings, then training may be provided and a family home study
will be completed. Some cost is dependent on whether you choose to go
through a state child welfare agency or a private child placement
In either 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. At this point, some state procedures differ;
if you are considered a potential match for a child the child's state "case worker"
may contact either you
or your "adoption agency worker" for an initial exchange of information,
(i.e., your adoption preferences, your skills, maybe your home study, and the child's special needs).
If both the child's caseworker and your adoption agency worker agree that this
may be a possible match you are contacted by your adoption worker. Your adoption worker 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. Typically several family home studies are reviewed to make a selection for the children.
It may take a while.
If you are selected, your adoption worker 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
How long does it take to adopt a foster child?
The entire adoption process, including orientation, training,
background-screening, placement, post-adoption home visits and the legal formalities, can
be completed in as few as nine months.
Isn't it expensive to adopt children?
It costs fairly little to adopt foster children.
Most fees are paid by the state or re-imbursed as tax credits. Other kinds of adoption may be pricier.
A private or foreign adoption may cost $20,000 or more.
In most states, almost all of the expenses in a foster care adoption
are covered by the state, including court and attorney fees.
What if my adopted child's birth parents change their minds?
Can I lose a child I've grown to love?
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.
Aren't many of the abused or neglected children hardened, difficult and unruly?
Many parents are reluctant to adopt children from the state, in
part due to misinformation about adoption of children from foster
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
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 parent training offered ensures expectations
are realistic for everyone involved. 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.
What are "Special Needs"?
"Special Needs" does not always mean that the
child has a physical, mental or emotional disability.
However, you may qualify for special financial assistance the
may qualify if the children
meet one or more of the "special needs" criteria below.
- 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
Is There Financial Support For Adoptive Families?
Children grow best in families.
Yes. Some. Ask for details from your local agency.
- Adoption Tax Credit (applies to many states, too)
- State 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
- 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 may be available in your state or from your agency.
Other community-based support groups and services may be available.
Where can I find out more info?