Adoption frequently asked questions
Q. Why Adopt?
Adoption is a wonderful way to build your family and give a waiting child a family to call their own.
When children in foster care cannot be safely returned home to their parents, an adoption plan is possible. Some children are placed with other family members or non-related adults with whom they have a significant attachment. Foster families may also choose to adopt the child in their care once the child is freed for adoption. Sometimes none of these options are available and a new family is found for the child. Adoption is a way to give children the kind of security and love they need. Adoptive parents have permanent, legal parental rights and responsibilities to the children they adopt.
Q. What is the need for adoptive parents?
Currently there are over 250 children in Oregon foster care waiting for adoption. These children need the safety and security of a permanent loving home. Adoptive families can give them that home and stability that they deserve. Adoptive parents that will take sibling groups are particularly important. Often a placement together with a sibling is extremely important to the children. Diverse families are also needed, to help kids grow with a strong sense of racial and cultural identity.
Q. Who are the children who need adoptive parents?
Children of all ages may be adopted, including older children and teenagers. Most children are over the age of 5 and may fall under one or more of the following categories:
- be part of a sibling group needing to be placed together
- be part of a racial, ethnic, or cultural minority
- have physical, mental, developmental or emotional disabilities
Children needing adoptive homes look like other children and come in all shapes and sizes. They are like other children, each with their own special personality, abilities, interests, and potential. Many children waiting for adoption have special needs related to the abuse or neglect they've experienced, including the grief and loss of being taken from their birth family. Sometimes the birthparents decided they could not take care of their children and turned over custody to the state.
Since most children living in foster care who are available for adoption are school aged, families seeking to adopt a baby are encouraged to contact a private infant adoption agency licensed by the state. These agencies work with birthparent(s) who choose to place their newborn infant with an adoptive family.
Q. How do these children come into foster care?
Foster children come to the attention of DHS from a variety of sources. Friends, neighbors, or relatives may report that a family does not appear to be providing adequate care for their children. Physicians, nurses, teachers, school administrators, social workers, and foster parents are required by law to report any situations in which children are in need of protection.
Q. What kind of adoptive parents do these children need?
No two families look alike. They are as diverse as the children needing homes. Each comes from their own different life experiences, levels of education, income, occupations, and lifestyles. Successful families are caring people who are ready to make a lifelong commitment to a child, and are open to learning new things.
Q. Who can adopt?
- You can be single, married, or domestic partners
- You can live in a house or apartment, but must have room to house a child
- You can work inside or outside the home
- You must be at least 21 years of age or older1
- You must have sufficient income to support your family
- You must be able to physically care for a child
- You must pass a child abuse and criminal background check2
Oregon welcomes and supports all families equally. Families of every race, culture, and ethnicity are needed to help children grow with a strong sense of racial and cultural identity. Applicants are considered regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.
Q. What about the cost?
There is no cost to adopt a child from foster care if you adopt through DHS. You may also choose to adopt these children through a private adoption agency licensed in the State of Oregon and pay a fee for their services.
Q. Is there financial assistance?
Although you are expected to financially support your adopted child, several resources exist that can assist families. Most children qualify for Adoption Assistance, which may come in the form of financial assistance and/or extra insurance depending on the needs of the child. An available federal tax credit can help families, and many employers also offer benefits. All children qualify for state funded medical and dental coverage up to the age of 18.
Q. How do I become an adoptive parent?
The first step is to call your local DHS office and ask for a schedule of upcoming orientations or to meet with a caseworker. Your initial questions will be answered and you may be invited to training to help you better understand and decide if adoption is right for you. You may also call 1-800-331-0503 for assistance. Also, see the Step by Step Guide on this site.
Q. How long does it take to adopt a child?
It may take from four to six months for the training, homestudy (family assessment) and criminal history check to be completed. The timeframe from initial inquiry before a child is placed with you may take up to a year, possibly longer, depending on your personal circumstances and the child you are seeking to adopt. Families waiting for a younger child will typically wait longer than families open to older children, sibling groups, or children with disabilities.
Q. Who do I contact for more information on becoming an adoptive parent?
Call 1-800-331-0503 or contact us for general information on adopting through DHS. You can also contact your local DHS office or a Special Needs Adoption Coalition (SNAC) Member agency.
Q. Can foster parents adopt their foster child?
Yes. However, most children are reunited with their birth families or extended family members whenever possible. If this is not possible, children may benefit by being adopted by their foster parents with whom they have become attached and built a relationship.
Q. What about birth families?
Contact between adoptive families and birth parents or other important people in a child's life is recommended whenever possible. Openness can ease a child's anxieties and help them develop a healthy awareness about who they are why they were adopted. An openness agreement is made on a case-by-case basis. Many levels of openness can happen -- from sending written information about the child to phone calls and/or face-to-face meetings.
1There are individual circumstances, requiring management approval which may allow a relative applicant between the ages of 18 and 20 to be certified as a relative foster parent.
2Applicants with criminal history will be evaluated on a case by case basis. Consideration will be given in light of the overall context of the offense.
Oregon law does not allow approval of any applicant with:
- Any history or felony conviction involving endangering a child.
- A felony conviction for violent crime, rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse or homicide
- Any history of spousal abuse.