Adoption step-by-step guide
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.
STEP 1: Find out more
The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) and private agencies with the Special Needs Adoption Coalition (SNAC) offer opportunities for you to talk with staff or attend an informational meeting to ask questions and learn more. For more information or scheduled orientations, please contact 1.800.331.0503 or SNAC member agency.
STEP 2: Make the decision to adopt
Becoming an adoptive parent will bring major changes to your life. Because of that, it is important every member of your household considers what that will mean to them. The following is a list of questions that can help you make the right decision with your family:
- Does everyone in our family believe that adoption is right for us?
- Do we have friends or family that will support us in this decision?
- Do we have space in our home for a child? Can we take siblings?
- Is there an age group or gender that would work best with our family?
- Are there special needs a child may have that we would not be comfortable taking on?
STEP 3: Attend training
The training provided by DHS will prepare you for transitioning a child into your family and parenting children who may have been abused or neglected and have experienced disruptions in their life. Topics include:
- The children and their special needs
- The process to adoption
- Where to get support and resources
STEP 4: Complete an application
After deciding to adopt, you will need to complete an application and asked for 4 to 5 references. A background check that includes criminal history and child abuse reports will be done. You will be asked to provide a physical and medical history check to be sure that you are in good health and have the ability to care for a child.
STEP 5: Homestudy
After an application is accepted, the homestudy process begins with your assigned worker. This is a very thoughtful process consisting of a series of interviews, home visits, safety/fire inspections and sometimes medical information from your doctor.
STEP 6: Wait for a match
Once a family has an approved homestudy and the criminal background check is completed, the family will be ready for a placement. The family works with their caseworker to find a waiting child who best matches the interests and strengths of their family. At the same time, the child's caseworker is looking for a family who can best meet the needs of the child.
In Oregon, the decision on placing the child with a family normally rests with an adoption committee. For each child, the committee assesses the child's needs and tries to make the best possible match with a family. The adoption committee reviews applications from several families and evaluates the relevant strengths and skills of each. The child is matched with the family that will be the best for that child.
Families may undergo certification and acquire a foster care license while waiting for finalization of their adoption.
Transition - Preparing a child for transition from foster care into your family is a slow and thoughtful process. It involves teamwork by many people who have been involved in the child's life. The new adoptive parents will receive full disclosure on the child's medical history and assessments. A plan will be made for each child to adjust to his/her new family. Visits typically start as short meetings and increase in length as you and the child get to know each other. These visits may go on for weeks or possibly months until the child can fully transition into living in your home.
STEP 7: Supervision
After a child is placed with you, the worker will schedule visits with you and the child at least once a month. This visit will occur in the family home at a minimum of every 60 days. He or she will want separate time with the child during these visits. Post placement supervision lasts for at least 6 months. If the child or adoptive family needs support, the caseworker will help find services as needed.
Adoption finalization - After a child has been placed in a home for the purpose of adoption, and the family and professionals agree that it is time to do so, the legal action of finalization occurs.
A judge will issue a final decree of adoption. At this point the child is legally part of the adoptive family and the adoptive family has permanent, legal parental rights and responsibilities. Once an adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents receive a birth certificate with their name(s) listed as the parent(s).