A Guide for You & Your Family on the Adoption Process

Adoption is defined as the legal and social process by which a child born to one set of parents becomes the child of another parent or parents. The decision to adopt is a very important one and should be based on clear and accurate information. The Department of Human Resources has the responsibility of securing adoptive homes for children in foster care who become available for adoption through termination of parental rights.

We want to make your adoption as smooth and efficient as possible. That is why we are providing this “Adoption Checklist” for you to keep handy while your family goes through the adoption process. It will help you plan ahead, know what steps will be next and offer helpful hints on making your transition from applicant to adoptive parent less complicated and rewarding.

STEP 1 – Meeting Adoption Requirements

Your willingness and commitment to being a parent, as well as your ability to love and rear a child who needs you are always the main requirements to successfully adopt a child. However, there are specific basic requirements that every adoptive parent MUST meet:

  • You must be over 19 years of age.
  • If married, marriage must be of at least 3 years duration.
  • If a married couple, one must be a U.S. citizen
  • You must have adequate housing & personal space for the child or children adopted.
  • You must be healthy enough to meet a child’s needs.
  • You must be willing to undergo a thorough background check, including criminal history.

STEP 2 – Application Submittal

After you have read the information regarding adoption and feel that adoption is something to which you and your family are deeply committed, you should complete the online inquiry form or call 1-866-4AL-KIDS. At your request, an Application to Adopt will be mailed to you. After completion, you will return the application to the county Department of Human Resources at the address that is provided to you.

STEP 3 – Trauma Informed Partnering for Permanence and Safety

After your Application to Adopt is received you will be contacted about attending Trauma Informed Partnering for Permanence and Safety (TIPS) meetings. TIPS is a program designed specifically to educate potential adoptive and foster parent families on a variety of pertinent topics on their upcoming adoption experience. Topics covered in TIPS meetings include discussion of the children available, the impact adoption may have on your family, behavior management techniques, separation and loss issues and more. This preparation program will consist of 10 meetings totaling 30 classroom hours. In addition, the social worker will schedule a time to interview you and other family members in your home.

Throughout the TIPS meetings, a mutual selection process will help you and your family decide: if adoption is right for you; what type of child will fit best in your family, and assist you in assessing your families strengths and needs.

STEP 4 – Your Approval as An Adoptive Resource

Once you complete your family profile and home study, this information will be assessed and evaluated and a determination made on your application as an adoptive resource. You will receive correspondence from your County Department of Human Resources confirming your approval.

The time between approval and placement can vary significantly, depending on the child/children who are available and the characteristics of the child/children you are willing to consider. You will receive a copy of the Waiting Children Newsletter, which features some of the children in need of adoptive parents.

STEP 5 – Background Information & Pre-Placement Visits

Adoptive placements are made by the State Office of Adoption. Once you are selected as a potential resource for a child or children, you will be given the opportunity to review background information. Questions and concerns you have about the information will be addressed. If you decide that you may be able to parent the child or children offered, you will meet the children in pre-placement visits. After pre-placement visits, the decision to move forward will allow the child or children to be placed in your home upon the signing of a placement agreement.

STEP 6 – Legal Action

After a child has been placed successfully in your home for at least three months, the next step in the adoption process is the sanction by the court system that the child is legally your own. The social worker will give you the Department’s Consent to Adopt so that you may began the legal process in the Probate Court. An attorney is not always required and this is at the County Probate Court’s discretion.

STEP 7 – Adoption: A Life Long Process

The legal confirmation of your adoption is not the end, but rather the beginning of an experience that is unique. There will be exciting times and there may be challenges. Alabama Post Adoption Connections (APAC) is available to you and your family on your journey. Libraries (offering books, videos and other resource material), adoptive family groups, Buddy Family mentors, trained therapists network, a toll-free warm line for information and referral and camperships are but a few of the ways APAC provides support, education and empowerment to the adoption community. Contact APAC at 1-866-803-2722 and www.childrensaid.org/apac