Step 1: Selecting An Agency
The first step in your adoption journey is to select the adoption agency you want to work with. Your adoption agency must be licensed in your state to perform the type of adoption you are interested in. There are two general categories of adoption: foster care and independent.
A foster care adoption is when a family is adopting a child who is currently a ward of the state. An independent adoption is the adoption of a child who is not currently a ward of the state. Independent adoptions include infant adoption, step-child adoption, kin adoption, etc.
We recommend selecting an agency offering transparency in its process and pricing, an excellent reputation in the community, and values that align with your family.
Step 2: Adoption Orientation
A Family for Every Child offers all prospective adoptive parents the opportunity to attend a free Adoption Orientation prior to engaging in adoption services with our agency. Orientation includes:
- A comprehensive overview of the adoption process from start to finalization, and beyond,
- The needs and characteristics of the children the agency serves, and
- An accounting of all projected costs related to the adoption process.
Step 3: Parent Training
All states require prospective adoptive parents to attend a comprehensive training program designed to build the skills needed when parenting children who have experienced trauma.
A Family for Every Child outlines the specific training guidelines applicable to our program and supports each adoptive parent in accessing training and applying the skills learned.
Step 4: Adoption Application
Prior to completing an adoptive home study, prospective adoptive parents submit a comprehensive application and supporting documentation. A Family for Every Child’s application includes:
- The applicant’s motivation to adopt,
- A fingerprint-based background check for all household members 18 and older,
- Confirmation of adoption training completion,
- Autobiographical information about all household members,
- A medical form indicating the applicant’s health,
- Financial documentation indicating the family can meet the needs of the child(ren) they are seeking to adopt,
- Documents outlining the applicant’s willingness to comply with state licensing requirements,
- If applicable, marriage certificates or divorce decrees,
- Character references, and
- Details about the needs and characteristics of the child they are seeking to adopt.
Step 5: Home Study
An adoptive home study is a legal document that determines an individual or couple’s adoption eligibility. When a prospective family’s application is complete, and basic eligibility has been established, the family is assigned to an adoption worker. The adoption worker completes:
- Individual interviews with all household members,
- Individual interviews with any children living outside the home,
- An interview with the couple, if applicable,
- An in-home safety assessment,
- Six character references, and
- Any other documentation or interviews needed to determine the applicant’s eligibility for adoption.
The adoption worker leverages all information gathered in the application and interview process to author the home study. Each A Family for Every Child home study goes through a rigorous editing and approval process prior to finalization. When completed, the family receives a copy of the home study.
If the family is participating in an independent adoption, they will provide their home study to their attorney who will assist them in petitioning the court for adoption. If the family is participating in adoption from foster care, the family will transition into the matching or selection phase of adoption.
Step 6: Matching
A Family for Every Child supports our home study certified families in a national child recruitment effort by leveraging a variety of county, state, and federal child listings. Child listings typically include a picture of the child and a short biography that describes the child’s characteristics. Families will only receive additional information about a child if they submit their home study to the child’s caseworker and the child’s caseworker believes the family is a potential match for the child.
The matching phase of foster adoption can be especially frustrating for families. Roughly eight out of ten submissions will not receive a response from the child’s caseworker. One out of ten will receive a response but the child’s needs will well exceed what the family has been home study approved to adopt. That leaves one out of ten submissions as a possible match for families to consider. On average, our families who are placed with a child within eight to twelve months of home study completion submit on 100-150 children.
When a child’s caseworker feels the family is a good potential match, the caseworker will reach out to the family or adoption worker and provide a summary of the child’s needs.
If after reviewing the summary with their adoption worker the family wants to proceed with the match, a meeting is typically set up between the child’s caseworker, family, and adoption worker. During this time, the child’s caseworker will be interviewing multiple families in an effort to find the best match for the child.
The child’s caseworker will typically review home studies and interview applicant families until they are prepared to make a placement selection for the child.
Step 7: Placement
After selection and before placement, the family should receive disclosure documentation from the child’s team outlining the child’s needs and history.
The adoption worker, family, and child’s caseworker work together to create and execute a plan for transitioning the child from their current residence to the family’s home. This includes ensuring any therapeutic services the child is currently receiving are mapped over to the family’s community. Continuity of care for the child is critical.
During the time when the child is placed in the adoptive home but the adoption has not yet been finalized, the family and child will be supported by an adoption worker. They will provide parent coaching, support, help locating additional resources, and accountability throughout the month. They will visit the family and child in the home at least once per month.