The Basics of Adoption

Step 1: Getting Started

You have made the decision to adopt. You will need to contact an agency licensed in your state about completing your adoption home study, and ask questions. Choosing the right agency will make a difference in your adoption journey. We are also happy to help you any way we can, as children are waiting for their “Forever Families”. Please use the Registration Form to make yourself known to us and sign up to receive our weekly mailings. A Family for Every Child serves children and families nationally.

Step 2: Initial Orientation

This is an orientation meeting where you will be given a basic understanding of:
  • The Adoption Program, policies and procedures of the Adoption Agency
  • Who are the children; the needs and characteristics of children available for adoption through state foster care systems.
  • Overview of attachment, separation, grief and loss, abuse, neglect or traumas that children have experienced
  • The role and responsibility of adoptive parents
  • The importance of cultural and ethnic identity to the child
  • The importance of birth parents
  • The process of what you will need to go through and the next steps on your journey
  • Background checks
  • Parent Packet Application Process
  • Overview of Home Study/Assessment
  • The length of the process with approximate timelines
  • Rights and responsibilities of the adoptive family and the Adoption Agency
  • Overview of family selection /matching process

Step 3: Adoptive Parent Training

Each state requires training to become an adoptive parent, it varies by state.  The training sessions vary by area/location, 4 to 10 weeks, or weekend sessions.  You will want to check into what is available in your area.  Check out our training page The training sessions are designed to:
  • Prepare prospective parents to better understand a child who comes out of the foster care system.
  • Prepare you for adoption
  • Challenge you to grow and develop as a parent
  • Help you 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?

Step 4: Parent Application Process

This is where you will want to narrow down the agency that you will choose to go with to complete your Home Study Process.  You will want to make sure that you feel comfortable with the agency that you choose.  The steps for each agency may differ in training, timelines, and when items need to be completed and returned to proceed to the next step. The application will often include:
  • Reference letters
  • Fingerprint/criminal history background checks on each applicant
  • Financial documents
  • Medical Reports
  • Marriage and/ or Divorce Decree
  • Biography/life sketch
  • Child preferences
  • What brought you to adoption

Step 5: Home Study Process

A Home Study is a report that is required to determine the eligibility of adoptive parents.  A Home Study can only be used for one adoption (sibling groups are considered one if done at the same time). Home Studies are kept confidential and are only shared with professionals involved with the adoption. Fees for Home Studies vary from each agency. This is the time that you will meet your adoption worker, who will write your home study.   Click here to view the profiles of our Adoption Workers. She/he will meet with you in your home to talk about your personal history, family relationships, what brought you to the decision of adoption, and the supports/resources available to you.  They will determine if your home is safe and has sufficient space for adopted child/children.  This step will help you and the agency make the best possible decisions about whether placement of child/children will work out and to determine the characteristics of the children whom you will be most successful parenting. Once information is gathered and interviews have taken place with the adoption worker there may be a time of waiting; the home study /assessment will need to be written, during this step of your journey please try to be patient.  While you wait for the home study process to be completed we recommend that families do some reading, research and connect with other adoptive parents or support groups to prepare for the next phases of the adoption process.

Step 6: Matching/Selection

During the matching/selection phase you and the agency you have chosen work together to find the child/children that will be the best match for our family. We have a Matching Assistance Program to help families in the matching/selection process, this is for families throughout the U.S. Learn more about our Matching Assistance Program… We pride ourselves on having a current and reliable web listing of children waiting for their adoptive family. The matching process can be very challenging and frustrating. Many families have a difficult time finding children to submit on as well as being considered and notified by the caseworkers. We encourage families to be patient and to not lose hope. Every state differs in how they make the selection of where to place children. In some states the caseworker of the child makes the decision, in other states it is decided by a committee of people. Understand who will be submitting our home study on children (you, your adoption worker, etc) and how often. In some cases you will be given a copy of your home study to submit on children, and some agencies prefer that they submit your home study. The term “submitting on a child” means to give the child’s social worker your paperwork, showing that you feel you are a good match. Some agencies will submit on a child/children out of state and other agencies will only submit on children in your state. Out-of-state adoption can be more work than in-state adoption. For details, see our Heart Gallery FAQ and tutorial on the ICPC.

Step 7: Placement

This is when you have been selected as the “Forever Family” for a child/children. 
  • Make sure you have the necessary information about the child/children
  • Make sure your resources are in place ahead of time
  • Talk with schools, counselors, therapist, physicians, dentist, child care, and support groups
Post placement reports are required until the adoption is finalized.  These reports may be done by both your adoption worker and/or another social worker.  The number of post placement visits/reports varies depending on the state requirements.  Are you ready to start? A child is waiting for their “Forever Family” you could be the one to make a difference.

Information Nights

A Family For Every Child Adoption Agency holds an Adoption Information Session for families interested in starting the home study process at various locations throughout Oregon. By registering for an upcoming meeting in your area you will receive a copy of our Parent Packet to review, a confirmed seat in the session, and a reminder phone call before the meeting. To register for one of the in person information nights, please email with the date you would like to attend and the number of people attending. Space is limited, so be sure to register now. 
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Information Nights (Eugene Office)

Are you interested in taking your first step towards adoption?! Please join us for our adoption information night! This is where you can learn about the general process of adoption and get all of your questions answered! There are a couple options every month!
Come into our Eugene Office for an friendly in-person Information meeting! Please RSVP for more information!
Information Nights are 2nd Thursday of each month at 6:00pm to 7:30 pm – this is in our Office

Upcoming Dates RSVP
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Information Nights (Webinar)

Join us online in the comfort of your own home for our webinar information night! Please RSVP to or call 541-343-2856 to get the link to register!
Information Night Webinars are the 3rd Thursday of each month at 6:00pm to 7:30 pm
Please check out our calendar for more exact dates!

Upcoming Dates RSVP

Multnomah County Resources

Support Groups

Talk It Over hosted by Swindells Family Resource Center and sponsored by Trillium Family Services:

A support group for families with a child or teen with mental illness, substance abuse, or serious behavior problems. Group is for family members only, including siblings. Snacks are provided. There are two locations to choose from:

  • Portland: Meets the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month from 4pm-6pm at Providence Child Center, Providence Hospital Campus 830 NE 47th Ave. in Portland.
  • Gresham: Meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month from 6pm-7:30pm at Human Solutions 124 NE 181st Street in Portland.
The contact for both of these groups is Margaret Puckette at 503-289-7797

LGBTQ Adoptive Parent Support Group hosted by Adoption Mosaic:

Meets every 3rd Thursday from 6pm-8pm at Q Center 4115 N. Mississippi Ave. in Portland. Groups will be lead by a team of adoption professionals and members of the LGBTQ adoption community.

Adoption Support Group hosted by DHS

Meets the 3rd Monday of each month from 6pm-8pm at DHS Midtown Branch, Lobby Conference Room 1425 NE Irving Street in Portland.

Oregon Post Adoption Resource Center

Select your county and it will display support groups near you.

African-American Families through Adoption Support Group

Meets in the greater Portland area for potlucks and fun. Can help you connect with mentors for African-American children. Contact Pam or Rob Vergun at 503-645-6642 or for more information.

Families For Children from China

  • Contact: Cathy Rowland
  • Location: P.O. Box 5642 Portland, OR 97208
  • Phone Number: 503-295-6322

ADHD Parent Support Group hosted by Stumptown CHADD

Meets the 2nd Thursday of each month at 6:30pm at Providence St. Vincent Hospital 9205 SW Barnes Rd., Room 6 in Portland. This support group is open parents and caregivers of children affected by ADHD. The group is there to share the joys and challenges in raising children with ADHD.

Northwest Adoptive Families Association and North American Council on Adoptable Children Representative

  • Contact: Kathie Stocker
  • Location: 5737 SW Pendleton Portland, OR 97122
  • Phone Number: 503-243-1356

Adoptive Families’ Support Group

Adoptive/Foster Support Group

  • Contact: Kathy Roland
  • Location: IHOP-Corner of Stark & 242nd Avenue Portland, OR
  • Phone Number: 503-666-9369

Department of Human Services

  • Contact: Peggy Gilmer
  • Location: Clackamas DHS Office Clackamas, OR
  • Phone Number: 503-657-2112

Padres Unidoes

  • Contact: DHS Judy Orellana
  • Location: 1425 NE Irving, Building 400 Portland, OR

African-American Support Group

  • Contact: Jeanett Davis
  • Location: Portland, OR Clackamas, OR
  • Phone Number: 281-652-1402

Department of Human Services

  • Contact: Peggy Gilmer
  • Location: Clackamas DHS Office Clackamas, OR
  • Phone Number: 503-657-2112
  • World Wide Web: FCC Oregon and SW Washington

Professional Help

Board of Licensed Professionals

Adoption Therapists in Multnomah County

Dr. Vince Berger

Adopting a Teenager

Assistance for Adoptive Families

There are many resources and supports available to assist families with their decision to adopt.

Adoption Subsidy

Some of the children who are adopted through Child Welfare are considered children with “special needs.” Special needs, as defined by the Department of Children and Families includes:

  • A child who has one or more special needs as a result of a mental, emotional or physical impairment, behavioral disorder, or medical condition that has been diagnosed by a licensed professional who is qualified to make the diagnosis
  • A child who is a member of a sibling group of 2 to be adopted together and one of the children is 8 years of age or older
  • A child is a member of a sibling group of 3 or more to be adopted together
  • A child is a member of an ethnic or cultural minority of whom reasonable, but unsuccessful efforts to place the child in an adoptive home were made and documented
  • The child’s birth and/or family history places the child at risk of having special needs but, due to the child’s age, a reliable diagnosis cannot be made.

Adoption subsidies are available to parents who adopt children who have physical or mental disabilities, or severe emotional problems. In addition to those children who qualify for subsidy through the Federal Title IV-E Adoption Assistance program, state subsidies are available to offset the additional costs of caring for a child with special needs. The subsidy programs are intended to remove financial barriers to the adoption of children with special needs, but they are not intended to cover the full cost of raising a child. The amount of the subsidy cannot be greater than the amount that child would have received had the child remained in a family-based foster care setting. The benefits available through the adoption subsidy programs are determined on an individual basis and may include monthly care and maintenance payments (a daily rate), health insurance coverage.

Adoption Tax Credit

In the summer of 2001, the Federal Adoption Tax Credit was updated. The most important update was to expand benefits to children with special needs adopted from the U.S. foster care system. Originally families adopting from the foster care system could claim the adoption tax credit, provided they had qualifying expenses. Unfortunately, the IRS list of qualifying expenses was limited to the cost of the adoption process, but not the day-to-day costs of raising a child with special needs. However, beginning in tax year 2003, families adopting a child with special needs from foster care, had access to this same tax credit without needing to document expenses. Since tax year 2005, the tax credit is $10,630 and you have the current year and up to the next five years in which to use it. For families that adopted in 2002 or earlier, you can only claim the credit against expenses you paid related to the adoption process.

If you have questions on the adoption tax credit, contact the North American Council on Adoptable Children at 651-644-3036 or You can also visit the IRS website at or call 1-800-829-1040.

Employee Benefits

Employer adoption benefits may include reimbursement for costs, paid or unpaid time-off and other support services. For more information contact the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption at 1-877-777-4222 or, or visit their website.


Other States

Fee Schedule

A Family For Every Child believes that finances should not be a barrier to families wanting to adopt. For Financial resources please visit: Financial Resources


Special Needs Adoption Home Study Fee $1,500.00
Independent Adoption Home Study Fee $3,000.00
Adoption Worker Travel Fees See Travel Fee Arrangement Form
Home Study Update $350.00
Independent Adoption Post Placement Supervision $1,000 (for up to two visits)
$500 for each subsequent visit as requested


Special Needs Adoption Home Study Fee $2,500.00
Independent Adoption Home Study Fee $4,000.00
Adoption Worker Travel Fees See Travel Fee Arrangement Form
Home Study Update $350.00
Independent Adoption Post Placement Supervision $1,000 (for up to two visits)
$500 for each subsequent visit as requested

Contact Us

Adoption Agency Coordinator
A Family for Every Child
Local (541)343-2856
Toll Free (877)343-2856

Christy Obie Barrett
Founder and Executive Director

Common Diagnoses of Foster Children

It is critical for children in foster care to get routine developmental screenings and any necessary follow-up. Routine pediatric visits include developmental check-ups, but children may not be seen regularly by a pediatrician while living in foster care. A child’s physical and mental functioning may improve if problems are recognized during routine developmental screenings and necessary treatment is provided.

Given that the life of a child in foster care is often filled with separation and loss it is not surprising that behavioral and psychiatric issues are common in these children.


Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can’t stop worrying. Daily life becomes a constant state of worry, fear, and dread. Eventually, the anxiety so dominates the person’s thinking that it interferes with daily functioning.


Asthma is an inflammatory disorder of the airways, which causes attacks of wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.

Compulsive water drinking (polydipsia)

Polydipsia is a medical symptom in which the patient displays excessive thirst.


Depression is a serious medical illness that involves the brain. It’s more than just a feeling of being “down in the dumps” or “blue” for a few days. The feelings do not go away. They persist and interfere with your everyday life. Symptoms can include:

  • Sadness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Change in weight
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Energy loss
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Developmental delay

Developmental Delay is when your child does not reach their developmental milestones at the expected times. It is an ongoing major or minor delay in the process of development. If your child is temporarily lagging behind, that is not called developmental delay. Delay can occur in one or many areas—for example, gross or fine motor, language, social, or thinking skills.

Emotional or behavioral problems


Encopresis is the voluntary or involuntary passage of stools in a child who has been toilet trained (typically over age 4), which causes the soiling of clothes. Encopresis is frequently is associated with constipation and fecal impaction. Often, hard fecal material remains in the colon and the child only passes a soft or semi-liquid stool around the impacted stool. Leakage of stool may occur during the day or night. There are rarely physical causes other than constipation (sometimes present since infancy). Other causes may be related to:

  • A lack of toilet training
  • Toilet training at too early an age
  • Emotional disturbance such as oppositional defiant disorder

The following may increase the risk for encopresis:

  • Being male
  • Chronic constipation
  • Low socioeconomic status

Conduct disorder

Whatever the cause the child may develop associated shame, guilt, or loss of self-esteem. The child may try to hide the discovery of the problem.


Bedwetting is involuntary urination in children over 5 to 6 years old. It may occur at any time of the day or night.

Excess appetite (hyperphagia)

Excessive hunger describes an abnormally strong desire or need to eat. This can be normal or related to an underlying medical condition.

Failure to thrive

Failure to thrive is a description applied to children whose current weight or rate of weight gain is significantly below that of other children of similar age and sex.

Genetic and birth defect syndromes

HIV infection

HIV infection is a disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The condition gradually destroys the immune system, which makes it harder for the body to fight infections.

Inadequate immunization

Long bone and rib fractures

Poor dental hygiene or multiple caries

Poorly controlled chronic illness

Prenatal exposure to cocaine, alcohol, narcotics

Reactive Attachment Disorder

Reactive attachment disorder is a rare but serious condition in which infants and young children don’t establish healthy bonds with parents or caregivers. A child with reactive attachment disorder is typically neglected, abused, or moved multiple times from one caregiver to another. Because the child’s basic needs for comfort, affection and nurturing aren’t met, he or she never establishes loving and caring attachments with others. This may permanently alter the child’s growing brain and hurt their ability to establish future relationships. Reactive attachment disorder is a lifelong condition, but with treatment children can develop more stable and healthy relationships with caregivers and others. Safe and proven treatments for reactive attachment disorder include psychological counseling and parent or caregiver education.

Sexually transmitted diseases

Shaken baby syndrome

(SBS) is a form of physical child abuse that occurs when an abuser violently shakes an infant or small child, creating a whiplash-type motion that causes acceleration-deceleration injuries. It is common for there to be no external evidence of trauma.

Sleep disorders

Sleep disorders involve any difficulties related to sleeping, including difficulty falling or staying asleep, falling asleep at inappropriate times, excessive total sleep time, or abnormal behaviors associated with sleep.

Emotional Needs

The children AFFEC serves have been removed from their birth families. due to neglect, and/or abuse, and have varying degrees of emotional needs. Many of these children are slow to trust a new person or family, having suffered past losses and often finding the adults in their lives unreliable or unable to care for them. Emotional difficulties can also result in a child having behavioral difficulties. Hoarding food, withdrawing, having difficulty telling the truth and competing for attention are among the most common behaviors.

It can be especially challenging to deal with a child who has been through a traumatic experience. If a child is unwilling or unable to discuss these experiences, the frustration may be so overwhelming that it affects the child’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis. A sense of security and support services will often help a child make great strides in a new family. Many of the waiting children benefit from counseling and other therapeutic services.

Physical Difficulties

While most of the waiting children are healthy, some do have physical difficulties or disabilities. Some may have asthma, cleft palate, mild forms of bronchitis or allergies or easily treatable medical conditions. Other children have more severe physical disabilities, such as limb deformities, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, congenital heart disease, life-threatening illnesses and various types of developmental disabilities.

Learning Disabilities

Many waiting children have difficulties comprehending, processing or retaining oral and/or written information. Within the general public school population, 10 to 20 percent of children have some form of learning disability. Learning disabilities can manifest themselves in any number of ways. The most common problems are Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), hyperactivity and dyslexia.

Adopting Older Kids

Have you thought about adopting a school-age child or are you planning to adopt an older child? With preparation and patience, a few adjustments on both sides, and some unconventional parenting methods, you’ll find that bringing home an older child can be a deeply rewarding way to form a family.

Most waiting children are school-aged or older. There are several brothers and sisters who need to stay together. More than 60% of the children come from minority cultures. The majority of children are boys and many children have emotional, physical, learning disabilities or mental retardation. All are waiting for the love and security that only a permanent family can offer.

Older children, though often unable to verbalize their needs, long to be part of a family and need love like any other child. Conflicting emotions are often present, and an older child may still have ties to a biological or foster family, or be grieving over the loss of biological and/or foster families. More than anything else, these children need strong, permanent commitments from their adoptive families. An older child may have lived in several foster homes along the way or have had disrupted adoptive placements. These children have never had the support or the opportunity to build positive relationships and, as a result, may suffer from low self-esteem.

Every parent considering older child adoption needs to read, talk with other parents, and read some more. And, one of the most important pre-adoption projects is to convince yourself that, “Yes, it WILL happen to me.” Some older child adoptive parents may deal with developmental delays and challenges. Children may act younger than their chronological age. And, they may not be consistent i.e. they may speak at age level, be two years behind socially, and be physically three years behind. For children coming from orphanages, the rule of thumb is one month of delay for each three months spent in the orphanage. Parents will need to work on these child development gaps with at-home activities, or possibly with the help of physical, occupational, or other therapists and specialists.

Some older adopted children slide into their new lives with little difficulty. These children joyously participate in their new family’s activities. They quickly learn the rules. They bond strongly, showing positive interactions with other family members. However, many older, special needs children, due to a combination of biological, emotional, and neurological issues, present challenges to their parents.

Educate yourself. Be committed. Maintain hope. With these, parents will successfully face down the ugly and the bad aspects of older child adoption, fully appreciate the good, and love their older adopted child with all of their heart.

Children’s Disability Levels


Caregivers can expect the child to respond to limit-setting or other interventions. The child can perform basic life management functions appropriate for child’s age and development and can use mainstream methods of transportation and communication.

  • Child requires no equipment for daily functioning and may require average or slightly above average medical care and appointments.
  • Child may have a condition that is totally managed by medication, or a condition that is correctable or improves on its own with time.
  • The child may be developmentally delayed in physical development but has a prognosis of catching up.

The child with a Mild disability could have one or more of the following conditions:

  • Developmental/Learning conditions that are not severe enough to require special education.
  • Emotional conditions such as adjustment reactions, situational depression or acting out behaviors.
  • Mental conditions with mild mental retardation in children who usually will be able to live independently as an adult, hold a job, and manage their lives with some guidance in crises. A child with mild mental retardation can often be in a mainstream class with resource room help or tutoring.
  • Physical/Medical conditions, such as mild cerebral palsy and treatable medical conditions such as controlled seizures, hearing or vision impairment.


Caregivers need to provide a structured supportive setting in which most activities are designed to improve the child’s functioning. Child has a relatively stable non-correctable condition that is neither progressive nor degenerative. Child can perform basic life management functions appropriate for age and development (feeding, dressing, toileting) with some assistance.

  • Child may require moderate home modifications, corrective surgery, and/or one or more weekly medical appointments.
  • Child may require some assistance with transportation and communication functions.

The child with a Moderate disability could have one or more of the following conditions:

  • Developmental/Learning conditions such as those requiring long- term special education classes.
  • Emotional conditions such as conduct disorder, sexual abuse and other problems that may need long-term therapy.
  • Mental conditions with moderate mental retardation in children who as an adult, may achieve partial self-support in a sheltered work place, but will always need supervision and will need to live in a group home or family setting.
  • Medical/Physical conditions, such as moderate cerebral palsy, paraplegia, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, partially controlled seizures, blindness or deafness.


Caregivers may need specialized training or experience to provide therapeutic, habilitative, and medical support and interventions. Child may require life support equipment, or has a progressive, degenerative or terminal illness.

  • Child may require significant home modifications.
  • Child may require repeated doctor or frequent hospitalizations or surgeries.
  • Child requires 2 or more medical appointments per week.
  • Child requires a parent or aide to perform basic life management functions (feeding, dressing, toileting, etc.).
  • Child may require special adaptations for transportation and/or communication.

The child with a Severe disability could have one or more of the following conditions:

  • Developmental/Learning conditions that may cause a permanent difficulty in academic or social/emotional functioning, or occupation.
  • Emotional conditions such as attachment disorder that may require hospitalization or residential treatment.
  • Mental conditions such as severe to profound retardation with an IQ less than 25. Individuals with severe mental retardation may be able to partially contribute to self-care, but will be unable to work and will need ongoing supervision and help with daily routines.
  • Medical/Physical conditions, such as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), multiple moderate conditions or a condition that requires ongoing and constant medical attention, such as quadriplegia or cystic fibrosis.