The first step in any adoption is attending an Adoption Orientation. Our orientations are designed to give you a broad overview of the adoption process. We will give a two hour presentation, provide you materials to read over, and will answer any questions you may have about foster care adoption. After attending an orientation, you are provided adoption assessment paperwork to complete at your own pace. You are also assigned an adoption worker at this time. Once you have a completed and submitted the adoption packet, then you will begin meeting with an adoption worker for home visits, clarification regarding your paperwork, and to set up clearances.
By state law, families must be approved through the Family Assessment process before a child can be placed in their homes for adoption. The Family Assessment involves a significant amount of paperwork and a series of meetings between the family and an adoption worker. Training regarding parenting children who have experienced trauma in the foster care system is also required. During the assessment, your social worker will talk with you about your motivations and expectations for adoption. It also gives the adoption worker a chance to get to know your family and inspect your home for safety.
The Family Assessment process usually takes three months to complete, depending on factors such as worker caseload and family cooperation. Assessments are prioritized based on the types of children waiting and the characteristics of families who have applied. The process consists of a number of meetings at the home as well as personal interviews. We will ask you for information in the following areas:
- Social History - A complete history and evaluation of your current family life and past experiences -- and how they will affect your capacity to parent an adoptive child.
- Health Statements – All household members will need to provide a medical history and a recent physical (within one year).
- Criminal Background Check/Fingerprinting – Applicants will need to complete a state police check, Protective Service clearance, fingerprinting, and a local police clearance. A state police check and Protective Service clearance will also be required for all other adults in the home.
- Income Statement – Applicants will be required to provide proof of your income, such as a copy of an income tax form, a paycheck stub, or a W-2 form.
- Personal References - You will be asked to provide the names, addresses, and phone numbers of three unrelated individuals who can share their knowledge about your experience with children, the stability of your marriage and/or household, and your motivation to adopt. If you have children, they will also provide information about you and what your home environment is like.
- Legal Documents – Birth certificates, social security cards, marriage certificates etc. will be collected as well.
This is just a list of the basic information that is required of all applicants. Please note that additional information may be required based on your home, family composition, health status etc.
If this seems intrusive and overwhelming, we completely understand. The reason we are so thorough is to ensure that children who have previously experienced abuse and/or neglect experience safety in their adoptive homes. Keep in mind that we really want to approve safe families, and will help you through this intensive process.