How to Adopt from Foster Care

Five Parts:Choosing to Pursue AdoptionCompleting Your Adoption ApplicationRequesting an Adoption Home StudyGetting Matched With a ChildFinalizing an Adoption

If you are a parent interested in adoption, one option is to adopt a child currently in foster care. If a foster child cannot be reunited with their birth parents, adoption is often the most desirable goal.[1] Adoption provides the child and adoptive parent(s) with a stable, legally binding relationship.[2] If you are interested in adopting a foster child, read this article in order to get an idea of the process.

Part 1
Choosing to Pursue Adoption

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    Educate yourself about adoption.[3] Before you begin the process, take time to learn about the serious yet fulfilling nature of adopting a foster child. Consider reaching out to families that have adopted foster children in the past.[4] There are a lot of internet resources out there to help you as well.
    • For example, you can contact Adopt US Kids for help finding resources.[5] You can also watch a couple of informative videos here.
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    Contact a local agency.[6] Contacting your local public child welfare agency is one of the best ways to learn about the adoption process and to determine if it might be right for you.[7] If you need help finding your local agency, look at the following resources:
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    Attend an orientation meeting.[11] After you contact your local agency, you will likely be invited to attend an orientation meeting to learn about the adoption process.[12] At the meeting you will learn about the children in foster care, the responsibilities of adoptive parents, the process of adoption, and how you can get started.[13] Do not worry about making any big decisions at this meeting, it is only meant to give you an idea of what adopting a foster child entails.[14]

Part 2
Completing Your Adoption Application

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    Complete pre-service training.[15] Pre-service trainings are almost always required before you can adopt a foster child.[16] The trainings, which usually involve between four and 10 sessions, will give you a better understanding of what foster children have gone through in their lives and how important adoptive parents can be.[17] These sessions will also help you create strong relationships with the people and agencies you will be working with closely throughout the adoption process.[18]
    • You can take a look at an introductory video here to get an idea of what pre-service training looks like.[19]
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    Find your state's adoption application. Once you have gone through pre-service training, your official adoption process will begin. You will be assigned a caseworker through your local agency and you and that caseworker will start by filling out an adoption application.[20] Your caseworker will usually have the application for you and you will fill it out together.[21] However, if you are required to obtain your own adoption application, look at your state's Health and Human Services website.
    • For example, in California, an adoption application can be found here.
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    Fill out your adoption application. Once you locate your adoption application, sit down with your caseworker and fill it out. Be honest on the application, fill out everything completely, and always ask for help if you do not understand something.[22] Most adoption applications will ask for the following information:
    • Each applicant's information.[23] You (and your spouse if you have one) will be required to give personal information that will include your Social Security Number, marital status, level of education, occupation, and income.[24]
    • Your marital history.[25] You and any other applicants will have to detail your marital history, which includes the names of your current and past spouses, dates of marriage, and dates of divorce or death.[26]
    • Your criminal history.[27] You must disclose whether you have ever been arrested for anything, convicted of anything, or reported to Children's Protective services.[28] You must also disclose if any state that you have lived in within the preceding five years.[29]
    • Each applicant's prior children.[30] In your application, you will list any minor and adult children you currently have.[31] If you have any children, you will be required to disclose whether they still live at home, whether they were adopted, and whether you support them financially.[32]
    • Adoption history.[33] This section requires you to disclose whether you are certified for foster care and whether you have ever applied for adoption before.[34]
    • Desired child.[35] If you currently know the child you are trying to adopt, you will fill in their personal information here.[36] If you have not yet identified a child, you can include information about what you are looking for.[37] This information will include the child's desired age, gender, ethnicity, and history.[38]
    • References.[39] Towards the end of your application, you will have to provide a number of personal references that your caseworker and the court can check with. Choose these references carefully as they will play a big role in your ability to adopt a foster child.
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    Submit any other necessary information. When you apply to adopt, not only will you have to fill out a paper application but you will also have to fulfill other requirements. Some of the most common inquiries will include:
    • A criminal background check, which will require you to submit fingerprints to an agency that will run a background check on you.
    • An age verification form, which will include a photocopy of your identification.

Part 3
Requesting an Adoption Home Study

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    Allow your assigned social worker to complete the home study. A home study is a document, written by your caseworker, after they have had the chance to do an in-depth inquiry about your home life.[40] It will include information taken from interviews, as well as documents you and other parties provide.The home study will usually take between three and six months to complete and may be incredibly invasive at times.[41] In general, your home study will include:
    • Family background, statements, and references;
    • Education and employment information;
    • Information about your relationships and social life;
    • Daily routines;
    • Parenting experiences;
    • Details about your home and your neighborhood;
    • Your readiness to have a child in the home; and
    • An approval recommendation from your caseworker.[42]
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    Gather and submit the required information. In addition to your caseworker's written assessment, you may also be required to submit certain documents to your caseworker so they can be included in the report.[43] Generally speaking, you will be required to obtain and submit the following documents:
    • A health report, which requires you to get a physical exam and submit your exam notes.[44]
    • A criminal background check, which can often be forwarded along or copied from the one you submitted with the paper application.[45]
    • A financial statement, which will list your income, as well as the income of other family members.[46]
    • Personal references, which will include people that are close to you and know your fitness to be a parent.[47]
    • An autobiographical statement, which will be a personal statement, written by you, meant to tell your life story to the caseworker and to any potential children.[48]
    • Legal documents, which will include copies of important things like birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, or divorce decrees.[49]
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    Receive your written approval. Once you have submitted your documents and allowed your caseworker to complete their home study report, that report will conclude whether or not you can move forward with the adoption process.[50] If you are approved, the report will also make a series of recommendations about the number of children you could adopt, the age ranges that may be best suited for you, and the condition of the children that may be best suited for you.[51]

Part 4
Getting Matched With a Child

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    Register your family. Once you have been approved, you will start the process of finding a foster child.[52] The process will being with you or your caseworker registering with Adopt US Kids.[53] Once you register, caseworkers of waiting children can find you and contact you regarding potential adoptions.[54] In order to register:
    • Click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page. Once you get there, click on the "Register Now" button. Follow the onscreen directions in order to complete your registration.
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    Find a child you want to adopt. Once you have created a profile on Adopt US Kids, you can start looking for foster children to adopt through their service.[55] You will login to your profile, search for foster children based on any number of criteria, and you will save the children you like the most.[56] You can inquire about the children you are interested in by reaching out to your caseworker or by simply saving their profile on your Adopt US Kids page.[57]
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    Wait to see if you are selected. Once you indicate your interest in a child, that child's caseworker will receive a shortened version of your home study.[58] That caseworker will review your home study and decide whether you and the child would be a good fit.[59] During this period, you will be sent more information about the child and you will be given a chance to ask questions and confirm or withdraw your interest in adopting them.[60] If you are selected, you will be contacted and told the good news.[61]

Part 5
Finalizing an Adoption

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    Allow your caseworker to assess your new situation. After the foster child is placed with your family, the court with jurisdiction over your case will continue to look things over until the adoption is legalized.[62] This process will start with your caseworker stopping by on occasion and checking up on things.[63] They will observe how you and the child are interacting and how you both are integrating to the new life.[64]
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    Assess the written reports your caseworker gives the court. Each time your caseworker visits you, they will write a report and submit it to the court.[65] The court will assess these reports in order to determine your progress towards being the child's permanent parent.
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    Receive the court's approval. This process will repeat for between three an nine months, at which point the court will make a final determination about your fitness to be the child's permanent parent.[66] If the court approves of your adoption, you will at that point, for the first time, be the foster child's official adoptive parent.


  • For more information about home studies, look here.

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Categories: Adoption