Applicants need to find their own attorney who is licensed in the area they live and qualified to do adoption work. A portion of the attorney’s fees may be eligible for adoption support reimbursement. The attorney will be responsible for the decree and findings of fact, setting court dates and notifying parties. A Place Called Hope will send the attorney a packet, and the attorney will do the filing. Applicants are advised to consult with their attorneys regarding adoption support agreements, and any issues that may affect their rights. If you do not have an attorney we would be happy to provide you with the names of some attorneys who we know have done this type of work.
Adoption – Step By Step
(Adapted from Answering the Call, Family Pocket Guide)
STEP 1 - First Contact -
This is where you, the prospective parent, make a phone call or talk to an agency recruiter to obtain information on the process.
STEP 2 - Initial Orientation -
Meeting where you will be given a good basic understanding of:
- Who the children are who need care.
- The role and responsibilities of foster/adopt parents.
- The process you will need to go through.
- The next steps you will have to take on the journey.
This may be part of the first Foster and/or Adoptive Parent Training class (referred to as PRIDE). The Orientation is available online at: http://www1.dshs.wa.gov/ca/fosterparents/preservice.asp. There are four modules.
- Welcome to the Child Welfare System
- Foster Home Inspection
- Child Abuse Reporting
- Families for Kids
During this time you may hear some real challenges of foster/adopt; don’t be afraid to ask questions and be prepared to open your heart and mind to what is being said. You don’t have to make any major decisions right now.
Step 3 – Foster and/or Adoptive Parent Training
This is a free 30-hour training program and the sessions are designed to prepare you for fostering/adopting. During these classes make a commitment to actively participate and give careful consideration to the information presented; come prepared to ask questions; and gain knowledge of what type of child you can best parent.
During this step you may start the application process by picking an agency to work with and obtaining a licensing packet. In addition, you will need first aid, CPR, and HIV/Aids training that should be of no charge to you – contact the trainer of the 30-hour course for a referral.
Step 4 – Application Process
This is where prospective foster/adoptive parents complete the application and you and your assigned representative from the agency of your choosing go over it carefully. Each application will contain a brief family history, personal references, background checks for anyone over 16 yrs. old, verifications of the different training completions, any medical records that are pertinent, etc., and a check list for preparing your house for a home study.
Ask for help from your agency or assigned foster parent recruiter if you have questions here are anywhere throughout the seven steps. Be open and honest in filling out the application. Supply the necessary information completely and accurately and as fast as possible. Cooperate with the criminal background check and protective service checks. Discuss any concerns you feel may surface with your licensor in advance.
Ask for help, if you don’t understand something. It’s better to take a little longer to fill out the application correctly. Agree to maintain confidentiality about the child, his/her birth family; and to provide nurturing, safe, and affectionate care for the child.
Step 5 – Mutual Assessment and Homestudy
(see section on Adoptive Home Study above)
This is the time that the agency licensor meets with you in your home to talk about your personal history, family relationships, reasons for wanting to foster/adopt, and the supports you have available to you. They will determine whether you home is safe and has sufficient space. This step is to help you and the agency make the best possible decisions about placement and to determine the characteristics of the children whom you want to parent. Ensure that all necessary information is supplied completely and accurately. You make an appointment with the agency to have a homestudy done, so don’t feel pressured to schedule one if you need to make improvements on your house first.
Step 6 – Licensing and/or Approval
This is a time of waiting for you. You may be waiting for the background check to be returned, personal references to submit there requested information, an upcoming homestudy, or the completion by the agency of their written homestudy assessment. All of these items take time and it may be frustrating at times to wait. Use the time for further reading or networking with other foster/adoptive parents (contact your local FPAWS group, Foster Parent Recruiter, or ask your Licensing Agency for referrals). Keep in contact with your licensor and ask to review a copy of your homestudy so you can correct any inaccuracies.
Step 7 – Placement
Congratulations, you’ve been approved and are ready to proceed to the next step in this journey – Placement. This is where the agency and you work to assure the right match between yourself and a particular child’s or sibling group’s needs. Licensed pre-adoptive parents have the responsibility to the child, the child’s birth parents, and the sponsoring agency to:
- Make sure you have the necessary information to make an informed decision about placement.
- Provide a safe, nurturing, stable environment for the child. Provide humane and affectionate care.
- Assure that religious training appropriate to the child’s denomination be respected.
- Assure that the emotional, medical, dental, and educational needs of the child are met.
- Report any changes related to the child’s care and/or your family’s composition to your family social worker.
- Promote physical, emotional, social, and intellectual growth and development of each child.
- Maintain confidentiality.
- Cooperate with the agency/department, especially in treatment planning for the child.
- Respect the feelings of the child for the birth family.
- Support the child’s visiting plan with birth parents (if you choose an open adoption), siblings or others, when applicable.
- Once a child or sibling group has been placed with you, a new journey begins. We encourage you to continue your learning by attending additional training and working with other resource parents and your social work team.