Children who are placed with an adoptive family through a public agency may move in as soon as the parents are approved. This means you have completed all required pre-placement visits and the timing is not disruptive to the child’s schooling or other activities. You assume temporary legal custody of the child once he or she is placed in your home.
Your adoption agency will monitor the placement while your family adjusts. This monitoring period normally takes about six months, but can be as short as a few weeks and as long as a year. The social worker may call or visit so that you can discuss how the placement is working for your new child and for you. The next step is for your agency to recommend that the court approve your adoption.
After your agency recommends you, it’s time to petition to adopt. The petition is the document that makes your adoption legal. On the document, you formally request permission to adopt your specific child and then file it with the court.
To file a petition, you and your agency social worker (or attorney) will need to present the following (guidelines vary by state or jurisdiction):
- The child’s birth certificate or birthdate and place of birth
- A written statement confirming your desire and suitability to adopt, as well as your ability to financially provide for the child
- A written declaration from the child’s caseworker or agency that the adoption is in the child’s best interest
- The date on which you received custody of the child, and from whom you were awarded custody
- A statement from the child’s caseworker or agency of the legal reason why the birth parents’ rights were terminated
- Written disclosure of any relationship that you share with the child (other than as an adoptive parent), such as being the child’s aunt, grandparent, stepparent, coach, or teacher
Consult an attorney if you need more help with the legal process or to simply help guide you. Visit our Adoption Law and Policy Resources page for further information.
47% of those considering adoption are concerned that the biological parents will be able to take the child back.1
This simply isn’t true. Once a child has been legally made available for adoption, the birth parents cannot claim a child or petition for his or her return.
1Source: National Foster Care Adoption Attitudes Survey, July 2013. Commissioned by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and conducted by Harris Interactive.