WHAT IS ADOPTION?
the permanent, legal transfer of all parental rights and obligations
from one person or couple to another person or couple. Adoptive
parents are real parents. 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
WHO ARE THE CHILDREN WHO ARE AVAILABLE FOR
More than 120,000 children wait for permanent
homes in the United States. Most are school-aged or older. There are
brothers and sisters who need to stay together. More than 60% of the
children come from minority cultures. The majority are boys. Many
have emotional, physical, learning disabilities or mental
retardation. All are waiting for the love and security that only a
permanent family can offer.
All kinds of people choose to adopt‹there is no
one "acceptable" type. Agencies will consider single, married,
divorced and same sex applicants. Agency requirements vary, but the
age range most acceptable is usually 25 and up and often depends on
the age of the child. There are women and men who are highly
educated with well-respected jobs, high school graduates with
blue-collar jobs, people with grown children, and others who want to
care for a child with special needs. They are all capable people who
have a lot of love to share.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE
The time frame, like the cost, varies with the
agency and the type of child being adopted. The wait is typically
between two and seven years for a healthy infant. If the prospective
family has a completed home study, children with special needs can
often be adopted quickly, within several months.
IS A HOME STUDY?
The home study is an educational
process designed to help the agency get to know you and teach you
about adoption and its impact on children and families. You will
attend a series of meetings with a social worker that will provide
more in-depth information. Social workers want to be sure that a
person or couple can provide a safe and nurturing environment for a
new child in their home. The homestudy process varies from agency to
agency. Some conduct individual and joint interviews with a husband
and wife; others conduct group homestudies with several families at
one time. Most ask applicants to provide written information about
themselves and their life experiences.
WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN LIVING WHILE WAITING
TO BE ADOPTED?
Most children who are waiting for
permanent families in the United States (those with special needs)
live in foster or group homes because their parents were unable to
care for them. Often, personal and family problems made it
impossible for the parents to maintain a home for their children.
Most of these children have been abused, neglected or
HOW DOES FOSTER CARE DIFFER FROM
Foster care is meant to be temporary shelter
for a child; generally the plan is for the parents to take their
child back when they are able. If that fails, the child is legally
freed from their birth parents and made available for adoption. Once
adopted, the child becomes a legal member of a family other than
his/her biological one.
CAN THE BIRTH PARENTS TAKE A
In order for a child to be adopted, the
birth parents have to relinquish legal custody or their rights have
to be terminated. With most agency adoptions, a child is already
legally free for adoption before a placement occurs. While cases
where a parent changes his/her mind (usually before an adoption is
finalized) are highly publicized, they occur
CAN I ADOPT A CHILD IN A DIFFERENT
Yes. The Adoption and Safe Families Act, passed
in 1997, requires state agencies to speed up a child's move from
foster care to adoption by establishing time frames for permanency
planning and guidelines for when a child must be legally freed for
adoption. The bill also removes geographic barriers to adoption by
requiring that states not delay or deny a placement if an approved
family is available outside the state.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN ADOPTING A CHILD FROM A DIFFERENT STATE?
Currently to adopt across state and territory lines a process
must be followed. That is guided by the Interstate Compact on
the Placement of Children(ICPC). This agreement lays out who
will be responsible for the supervision of and the financial
aspects of the placement. In other words, who supervises and
who pays for that supervision. This financial responsibility
also includes which state or territory will pay for post-placement
therapies, subsidies and respite care, thus it is vitally important
that this process be followed properly.
States and territories usually have an agreement with each other
about what they do for each other. This is especially true in states
that are close together, like Virginia, Maryland and DC or Oregon
and Washington State. Now if you live in California and are matched
with a child from Vermont, there may not be a routine practice in place.
Not saying it is impossible, but you will have to advocate on behalf
of yourself and the child you wish to have placed with you. You can expect
to need to travel some to complete the adoption. For an example of the process
for Oregon, please look at the tutorial.
If you are hoping to adopt out of state, make sure your agency will
support this and help you. They will need to advocate for you and
oversee the placement when it does happen.
CAN I ADOPT A
CHILD OF ANOTHER RACE?
Yes. In October 1995, the
Multi-Ethnic Placement Act became effective. This act and subsequent
revisions bar any agency involved in adoption that receives federal
funding from discriminating because of race when considering
adoption opportunities for children.
SHOULD I BE A
FOSTER PARENT BEFORE I ADOPT?
In order to adopt, it is
not necessary to begin as a foster parent. Foster families should be
able to adopt the child in their care, if the child becomes legally
free. Becoming a foster parent may increase your chances of adopting