Once the child is placed in the adoptive family’s home the child will remain in foster placement for a minimum of six months. This timeframe can be reduced for a family who have successfully adopted before in the state of California. During this time the adoptive family will have a GSFS adoption social worker to work with them and all members of the treatment team relating to making it a successful adoptive placement.
Towards the end of the six months the county social worker will schedule an Adoptive Placement meeting. This is when the child will “leave” the foster care system and go into adoptive placement. The adoptive placement meeting consists of the adoptive parents, the county social worker, and the GSFS adoption social worker. This meeting typically takes place in the adoptive family’s home or in the county office. The adoptive parent(s) are required to sign a series of forms that brings them one step closer to finalization. This is also when the foster care monthly reimbursement stipend discontinues and the AAP monthly benefits begin for eligible families. Once the child is in adoptive placement the county social worker can schedule the adoption finalization court hearing. This is on average scheduled several weeks after adoptive placement. At the finalization hearing the adoptive parent attend with their child(ren) they are adopting and any other family they want to witness the adoption! This is the final step and the adoption becomes final!
1. Who are the children?
Foster children of all ages and ethnicities are in the child welfare system awaiting permanent homes. Parental rights to some of these children have been terminated by the court and they are legally “freed” for adoption. Some of the children are considered ‘risk adopt’ placements. These are children that have family reunification services terminated with their biological family, yet parental rights are still intact. For children who are not “freed” for adoption, the “risk” is that while the county social worker can predict rights may be terminated and the child will become available to be adopted this is not always 100%, as the court could return the child to a biological family member. When a child is placed with a risk-adopt family, the child’s permanency options are often being evaluated in two directions: adoption and family reunification. Ultimately the County or CDSS selects permanent homes in which to make an adoptive placement. Potential adoptive parents are informed of special needs or significant problems the child may have or encounter.
2. How do I find a child to adopt?
Golden State can help you find children available for adoption, or we can place foster children in your home that could become available for adoption later. A good number of foster children become available for adoption each year. Additionally counties regularly call Golden State looking for parents who have already stated they would be open to adoption and have their S.A.F.E. © Home Study completed.
To adopt you must participate in a “family assessment” known as a S.A.F.E.© Home Study which consists of a thorough review of your criminal, medical, employment, emotional, marital, life history, and your home environment, as required by law. This process is a joint effort by the Golden State Adoption Social Worker and the adoptive parents. The Golden State Adoption Social Worker evaluates and determines your ability to provide a stable, safe and permanent home to child who is available for adoptive placement.
3. What ages of children are available – do you have babies?
The ages of children available for adoption vary. Persons wishing to adopt infants may expect to wait some time for their application to be selected; as most agencies have many homes already approved are waiting for the placement of infants. Older children, some not even in school yet but not “babies” are also available for adoption. There is currently a huge need for parents wishing to adopt older children, and sibling sets.
4. How much will it cost to adopt?
GSFS charges no fees to adoptive applicants wishing to adopt a special needs child. The licensed public adoption agency or CDSS adoptions district office who we cooperatively work with may require you pay a fee of no more than $500 prior to submitting a favorable report to the court. Though this fee is usually deferred or waived in certain conditions. You should expect to pay for fingerprinting, medical examination, and other adoption related costs that usually total no more then $100-$400.
Families who adopt foster children who are eligible for the Adoption Assistance Program may qualify for the non-recurring adoption expense program through AAP. The program reimburses families for adoption related expenses that incur during the adoption process up to $400 per child.
Adoptive parents may qualify for a federal tax credit for certain expenses paid to adopt an eligible child with special needs and a state tax credit for adopting a child who was in custody of a California public child welfare agency. For further information about the federal adoption tax benefit, contact the Internal Revenue Service at www.irs.gov or 1-800-829-1040 and request Publication 968. For further information about the state tax benefit, contact the California Franchise Tax Board at www.ftb.ca.gov or 1-800-852-5711 and request information on Credit for Child Adoption Costs – Tax credit Code 197.
5. Is there financial assistance provided once the adoption is final?
The Adoption Assistance Program can provide monthly financial assistance and medical coverage for many of today’s waiting foster children. This assistance may continue until the child is 18 and in some circumstances until the child is 21 depending on the child’s special needs.
6. I don’t own my home or I live in an apartment? May I adopt?
Yes. You don’t have to own a house to give a home. You may rent or own a home as long as your home is safe and has enough room for all family members.
7. May single persons adopt?
Yes, single men and women may also adopt. In fact, approximately one-fourth of the children adopted from the public foster care system are adopted by single individuals.
8. I am over fifty, am I too old?
No. As long as you are in good health and have the energy and desire to be a parent, it is not a decisive factor. A 50 or 55 year-old-person or couple may be perfect for the adoption of an older child.
9. I am in a same sex relationship, can I adopt?
Yes. Golden State Family Services does not discriminate against same sex couples, or discriminate on the basis of age, gender, religion, race, ethnicity, or national origin in making decisions about adoptive parents or placements.
10. How long will it take to adopt a child?
In an agency adoption, the process may be lengthy but well worth the wait. Depending in the workload of the agency selected, it will take anywhere from two to six months to complete an adoption home study. Most adoptive placements occur several months after the home study has been approved. Placement can occur quickly if you are open to adopting older children and sibling groups. After the child is placed in your home the child must be placed for up to six months before adoptive placement and adoption finalization can proceed.