What are the requirements to adopt a child from foster care?

Publication Date: July 18, 2013


The adoption of children who are in State custody is usually handled by local public agencies and/or private agencies under contract with their state or county. In public agency adoptions, adoption matches are generally arranged by the agency through a meeting of several social workers and supervisors and/or by a placement committee, based on the needs of the child and the ability of the family to meet those needs.

The requirements to adopt vary from state to state in accordance with state laws and agency policies/regulations. The path to adoption usually starts by attending an orientation meeting, which is typically held several times a month in the local county agency office. These meetings are designed to illustrate the application process, address the requirements, and describe the characteristics of the children in the state's care.

Contacting the local public child welfare agency is the first step to learn about a state's eligibility criteria for adoption. Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, provides a listing of state websites with contact information for local and county child welfare offices.

The following resources provide information about state laws and basic eligibility criteria for adoption:

AdoptUSKids, a project of the Children's Bureau, highlights State-specific guidelines on its website.

Adoptive parent trainings for families adopting from foster care, vary from state to state and even from one county to the next in county-administered states. Child Welfare Information Gateway provides state information regarding preservice training for prospective adoptive parents.

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