Frequently Asked Questions

Today in the United States, 423,000 children are living in Foster Care waiting for their Forever Family. Approximately 115,000 of these children are ready to be adopted. Unfortunately, 40% of these children will wait for over three years in foster care before finding a permanent home. Could you be a Forever Family for a child that is waiting?

“The solution to adult problems tomorrow, depends on how our children grow up today! There is no greater insight into the future than recognizing when we save our children we save ourselves.”

Who are the children in foster care?

Many children are in foster care because they were removed from their families due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. Children live temporarily with extended family, a foster family or in a group home while social workers try to help the birth family. If the birth family’s problems cannot be resolved, the agency that has custody of the child goes to court to legally terminate parental rights. At this point, social workers try to find a safe and loving adoptive family for the child. Virtually every race, ethnic group and socio-economic category is represented. Some children are waiting alone and others are waiting with siblings.

I’m not married, can I still adopt?

You do not need to be married to adopt. Single parents can make great parents to a child looking for their forever family.

What if I work full time?

You do not need to be a stay-at-home parent to adopt. As long as you have a safe place for the child to stay while you are away from the home, working full time should not be a problem.

Our house is smaller, does the child have to have their own bedroom if we adopt?

No, each child only needs to have their own bed. Children of the opposite sex may share a room if they are under a certain age determined by the State (usually around 6 years old). Keep in mind, depending on the circumstances there may be child-to-square-feet requirements or behavioral concerns that may not allow children to share a room.

I am no longer child bearing age, am I too old to adopt?

No. It is encouraged for parents with experience to adopt. Age should not be a barrier to becoming a parent to a child in foster care.

What if I don’t own my own home?

You will not be turned down for adoption if you do not own your own home. There are no rules preventing you from renting your home.

What is a SNAC agency?

An agency who works to find families for children who have special needs is a SNAC (Special Needs Adoption Coalition) agency. An adoption is usually considered “special needs” if: the child is over six years old, part of a sibling group, has some physical, mental or emotional disabilities, or is part of an ethnic minority.

What is Matching Assistance?

This program was created to connect families to children nationwide, and increase the search results for children waiting in foster care. We are committed to assisting families, caseworkers and adoption workers in the effort to place children in adoptive homes. Families that choose to work with the Matching Assistance Program receive a log in to a special nationwide search engine with an ever growing private listing of many children that can’t be seen on a public site. This program assists struggling families during the adoption process in any part of the country.

Is the Matching Assistance Program a part of AFFEC Adoption Agency?

The adoption agency and Matching Assistance are separate programs of A Family For Every Child. The Matching Assistance Program is a nationwide search engine to help parents locate a child for their family. The Adoption Agency is only available for Oregon families and can help with Home Studies and other aspects of adoption. The families who choose to go with AFFEC Adoption Agency also have complete access to the matching program.

What is a Home Study?

A home study is both a process and a document required by the government for every adoption to make sure that your home is a safe and healthy place for a child. It ensures that you are well-prepared to become parents, and have the means to support a child or children as part of a “forever family.” A home study can only be used for one adoption (sibling groups are considered to be one, if done at the same time). AFFEC can complete a home study, and also provides a free copy of your home study to you.

Who selects the family for a child/children?

The selection process varies from state to state. In some states the caseworker of the child makes the final decision, in other states it is decided by a committee of professionals in the adoption field. Consideration of a family is done by reading the family’s home study and assessment.

What is the ICPC process for adoption from another state?

Because each state has differing adoption laws, when a child is transferred between states, an ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) is required. In the state of Oregon, the Child Welfare Manual details a tutorial for completing the ICPC. More information can be found on the state of Oregon’s ICPC website.

Can LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, and Queer) parents adopt?

The laws vary from state to state. In many states this is permitted; however, for interstate adoption, this becomes more complex. Click here for a current summary of the laws by state.

How much does it cost to adopt?

While it does not cost to adopt from the state foster care system, there are fees with choosing a private agency to write your home study/assessment. The fees for private agencies vary considerably. Here is A Family For Every Child’s fee schedule. You can also access a list of resources to help with funding for adoption services by clicking here.

Where do I take the required training?

Each state has it’s own requirements on training in order to become an adoptive parent. The training sessions vary by area and location, and are typically four to ten weeks or weekend sessions. You will want to check into what is available in your area.
The training sessions are designed to:
  • Prepare prospective parents to better understand a child who comes out of the foster care system
  • Prepare prospective parents for adoption
  • Challenge individuals to grow and develop as a parent
  • Help parents consider: what type of child can I successfully parent? Am I able to parent a child who has been neglected and/or abused to some degree?

Legal risk vs. Legally free

Legal Risk – A child in state foster care with a case plan for adoption may be placed with a pre-adoptive family as a “legal risk” placement if the actual termination of parental rights is not yet completed. Many states are very proactive about finding adoptive placements while children are still considered legal risk, because the state would like to avoid large numbers of children being wards of the state. Some states do everything possible to keep the number of children considered orphans low and work hard to find adoptive families before the child is considered a waiting child. Usually, children with legal risk statuses are only shown to families within the state with a hope to find an adoptive placement before the termination of parental rights is completed. Legally Free – A child in state foster care who is “legally free” for adoption is a child whose birth parent’s rights have been terminated by the state. This means the child is a ward of the state and has no legal parents. All the paper work is done, and there is no risk that a child placed for adoption will not be adopted by the family selected as the pre-adoptive placement. OR  When a child’s parents or guardians have relinquished their parental rights or have had them terminated in a court of law. Once this has occurred, a child is then “legally free” to be adopted by another person or family member.

What is adoption?

Adoption is 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 children.

Who are the children who are available for adoption?

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.

Who can adopt?

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 to adopt?

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.

What 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 home-study process varies from agency to agency. Some conduct individual and joint interviews with a husband and wife; others conduct group home-studies 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 abandoned.

How does foster care differ from adoption?

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 child back?

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 infrequently.

Can I adopt a child in a different state?

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.

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 a young child.

Tell me more about your organization?

We are a non-profit organization that is focused on finding permanent and loving adoptive homes for children in foster care. The majority of our adoptions are foster care.  We do some infant adoption home studies, but we do not assist in international adoptions.  We have access to children available for adoption throughout the country. We are highly involved with families during the adoption process.  This involvement allows us to provide a high level of support throughout all aspects of the adoption process. We are licensed to serve families in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

What services do you offer?

We offer a variety of supportive and helpful sources to aid your family through the process of adoption. We assist families with completing and submitting a home study, conduct family interviews, help with completing background checks, we have an online system called Matching Assistance Program that we use in assisting families with getting matched up with children available for adoption, and help families with contact between various agencies throughout the process. We also provide support to the family and child/children after they arrive at their forever family home such as post placement assessments and finalization support.

What makes your agency different than DHS?

While we do require several documents, and payment in full before completion of the home study, we are able to process paperwork generally at a quick rate. We also can work as quickly or as slowly as families want. We are also able to help families get matched with children from anywhere in the country, so you are not just limited to searching for Oregon children. We do charge a minimal fee for our services, but our cost is significantly less than other private agencies. Additionally, customer service is a primary priority for AFFEC; we always respond promptly, and find the best ways we can to help the family with whatever they need.

Why should I work with AFFEC?

There are several differences between AFFEC and other agencies.  The primary differences are:
  •  A dedicated worker assigned to your family to assist you with searching, matching, and placement services.  Workers are located all over the state for your convenience, or are often willing to travel to a family.
  • The lowest adoption fee in the state. We offer one flat fee, no hidden or additional costs for our services.
  • You will receive a copy of your completed home study, we believe you are the client and it is your product. Many agencies do not release home studies to families.
  • We are one of the only agencies that work with children out of state. You will have on line access to listings of children for adoption all across the country.   60% of our placements are from another state and this gives our families many more options to consider children from other states.
  • Experienced with the Interstate Compact Placement of Children (ICPC)– this is especially important when you adopt a child from another state.
  • Matching Services focused on helping families advocate for themselves and several free recruitment options with targeted emails, website feature, feature family newsletters and much more
  • We are honored to serve families of all shapes and sizes; we believe every family has something to offer waiting children.

What is the cost?

Families working with our agency are charged $1,500. The only other additional cost that families might have is travel mileage and time reimbursement. Independent adoption is $3000, and they must go through another agency to locate a baby—the independent adoption fee is solely for a home study and post-placement visits. Families can make payments if they want, they just need to let us know and pay in full before the home study is signed.  You can encourage them to shop around, but to our knowledge we are the cheapest home study, and MAP is free.  Additionally, we do have the option of doing “dual track” adoption, which allows the option to have a home study written that can be used from infant adoption, as well as adopting from foster care. That cost is $3,000. The family will receive a tax credit for costs relative to the adoption. Adoption Assistance is available to help cover costs after finalized, and they will work with the child’s worker to negotiate this while they are in the post placement phase.  The child is also covered by Oregon Medical plan until 18, or, the family can, if they choose, put them on their insurance.

What is a Travel Fee?

Our agency does the best we can to assign the closest worker to the family as we have available. However, there is a travel agreement that the adoptive family and worker must sign. The agreement is included in orientation, and while AFFEC does lay out a limit that the adoption workers can charge that is as follows: 
  • Travel to and from family visits at 35 cents per mile (mileage to start 15 miles 
  • from Adoption Worker home)
  • Hotel:  Not to exceed $100 a night
  • Meals: $10.00 a meal (two meals only when travel and visit equal 8 hours, one 
    • meal if 6 hours)
  • Travel to and from family visits at the rate of $ 10.00 per hour, or $15.00 an hour for a flat rate hourly (no mileage) option.
However, that is to be worked out between the worker and the family. Some workers choose not to charge miles and deduct that cost from their taxes, or to provide a discount. It is ultimately up to the worker and the family, though the fees and costs cannot exceed the above amounts.

How long does it take?

The average time from start to finish is 18-24 months.  Of course this is an average and some will be shorter, some will be longer. Here are some ranges:
  • 2-4 months for Home study, depending on many of the families’ variables, like training, background check, completing documents.
  • Matching phase 1-12 months, sometime faster, this really depends on how open the family is
  • Post placement is 6-12 months depending on the state and how quickly they finalize.

Do you have to be married to adopt?

No.  It is not our job to determine what your family looks like.  It is only our job to determine if you can love and support a child from foster care and the issues that might bring.  We are here to assist all families, who qualify, to adopt.  Married, Single, Straight, or LGBTQ.  We are here to help you.

What does ‘qualify’ mean?

All families must take 24 hours of Foundations training, pass a background check, have medical forms filled out, be found a suitable placement for a child.  This does not mean you have to be perfect, or never have been in trouble.  There are of course, some disqualifying events, but for the most part, a little trouble in your past will not prevent adoption.  It’s definitely something to talk to the adoption worker about.

Do i need to own a home?

Families do not have to own a home to adopt a child.  Renting is perfectly acceptable. Apartments are okay as well.  The important thing is that you have room, love, time, and resources to adopt a child.

We want to adopt a baby. Is that something we can do through AFFEC?

That would be considered independent adoption. For independent adoptions, it’s $3,000 for the home study, plus $1,000 post-placement fee for two months, then $500 every month until adoption is finalized. Independent adoption is an infant from hospital, or a child outside of foster care. For an infant adoption, the family will have to use a separate agency to locate and identify an infant to adopt; we can only do the home study and post-placement follow-up.

Is there a risk we could get placed and lose the child because they return back to the biological parents or extended family members?

This is a great opportunity to explain the adoption process and what that looks like with foster care. The state’s priority is reunification with the biological family. At a certain point, the social worker and judge will decide reunification will not be possible and move forward with finding an adoption placement and recruitment begins (usually with the Heart Gallery of their state). During this process, the child is considered “legal risk,” where parental rights will be terminated once an adoptive placement is found (or, they are still in the process of terminating rights). “Legally free” is when there are no parental rights and the child is legally free for adoption. This usually answers any questions about reunification.  We as an agency have never had a child in a placement be returned to their family, in well over 250 cases, it really just doesn’t happen.

Are foster adoptions required to be an open adoption?

Open adoptions are the discretion of the parents who adopt the child on how they choose to maintain the child’s prior relationships. The adoptive family can be as removed as sending and receiving letters through our agency, or as involved as arranging/making trips for visitation. We as an agency support honoring foster children’s history, and try to encourage adoptive parents to do the same.  If a family is open to contact, that’s great! Our Adoption Workers always appreciate that situation.