Adoption FAQs

Where do I begin?

Zeerip Family with their adopted children

The Zeerip Family with their adopted children

If you’ve been thinking about adoption and you’re not sure where to begin, you’ve come to the right place!

If you live in Michigan, the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) can help! MARE is an information and referral service for prospective adoptive parents interested in adopting children from the foster care system. They are also a resource for adoption workers looking for homes for these children. MARE’s website provides a photolisting of Michigan children waiting to be adopted, and of Michigan families interested in adopting children with special needs. The listings are updated regularly and families may inquire about children directly through MARE or through our organization.

If you live in another state, contact your local child and family services organization to start the process. (Phone numbers are included on the videos of the children who chose to work with Grant Me Hope). Much like MARE the agencies we work with provide you with all the information you’ll need to work through the foster and adoption process.

Below are some of the most common questions asked. If a question you have is not answered, please do not hesitate to contact Grant Me Hope, MARE or your local foster/adoption agency. Ultimately, the agency you work with can answer all your question.

What are the qualifications for becoming a licensed foster parent?

Foster care is seen as a short term solution to an emergency situation. Agencies need committed individuals who are:

  • Willing to work with the child’s birth parents
  • Supportive of efforts to return the child home
  • Able to work with children who have significant emotional and behavioral needs
  • Able to encourage teens toward independent living

Anyone applying to become a foster parent must be at least 18 years of age, and be able to:

  • Complete a licensing application
  • Successfully complete background clearances for all adult household members
  • Provide medical statements for all household members
  • Have an environmental inspection (when applicable)
  • Provide three acceptable references
  • Pass on-site visits to the home by the licensing worker
  • Attend training pertinent to foster care issues

What is the first step in becoming a foster parent or an adoptive parent?

The first step is to find an agency to complete your foster care licensing or your home study (for adoption). There are many agencies that have licenses to do foster care or adoption – or both! Every county has a local Department of Human Services (DHS) agency, and many counties have licensed adoption agencies that can assist you in the foster care and/or adoption process. A complete list of adoption agencies can be found HERE.

When you first contact an agency, be sure to ask them plenty of questions. Any question you have is important enough to be answered! You may want to ask:

  • How long will the home study or foster care licensing process take?
  • Will I have to pay any fees?
  • What fees will be reimbursed once an adoption is complete?
  • How long will I wait until I am identified as a family for a child?
  • Will the agency complete my adoption homestudy even if I don’t want to foster a child or get a foster care license?
  • What services are provided to me once my homestudy is complete?
  • When and where are the adoption training classes held?

Feel free to call several agencies and ask them the same kinds of questions before making a final decision. The agency websites are often a great source of information as well. Learn what services the agencies offer such as pre-placement training’s, support groups, post-placement services, etc. Be sure you feel comfortable with the agency you choose, as you will be working closely with them for several months, and will be sharing both private and personal information. They will also become your strongest advocate in this process.

What’s the difference between foster care and adoption?

A foster parent assumes care and responsibility for the foster child, but the State maintains all legal guardianship of the child. Adoption transfers legal responsibility and care over to the adopting parents. A foster parent’s primary role is to help in efforts to reunite the child with their birth family. This may include visits between the child and birth parents (when appropriate), taking a child to counseling (if needed), and working closely with the foster care worker. Children may stay in the foster home for several days, weeks or months – perhaps even a year or longer– while birth parents are working to resolve the issues that brought the children into care in the first place. Sometimes, a child is unable to return home; it is then that the court terminates parental rights and the child becomes available for adoption.

Adoptive parents become the child’s legal parent. Their lifelong commitment and responsibility are no less important than if the child was born to them.

What is an adoption homestudy?

The home study is an assessment of one of our caseworkers and it typically takes 2-3 months to complete. The home study essentially has three parts to it:

  • a series of meetings between the family and the caseworker, with at least one occurring in the family’s home, with all household members present
  • completing pre-adoption education
  • gathering various documents

The purpose of a home study is two-fold:

  • to provide an opportunity for the family to learn more and seriously consider their motivations and expectations for adoption.
  • for the caseworker to get to know the family in order to make an assessment on adoption being a good fit for them.

The home study covers many different areas including:

  • adoption plan – specific characteristics of the child you hope to adopt
  • personal social history – a complete history of your current family life and past experiences and how they will affect your capacity to parent and adoptive child.
  • marriage relationship – the stability and overall functioning of your marriage
  • health – medical history and recent physician reports must be completed for all household members
  • criminal background checks – completed for all adult household members
  • finances – verification of employment, expenses and income as well as money management skills
  • parenting – child rearing strategies and discipline methods
  • personal references – consisting of four unrelated individuals who can speak on behalf of your character, stability and potential to parent an adoptive child.
  • home and community – the safety and security of your home and community for the purpose of adoption
  • pre-adoption education – minimum of 12 hours of pre-adoption training assigned by your caseworker

What happens after the child is placed in our home?

Although it varies from county to county, it typically takes about six months to finalize an adoption after the child is placed in your home. During this time, your caseworker will visit you regularly to see how your new family is adjusting and to provide support.

What kinds of children are waiting for adoption?

In Michigan, there are three different types of adoption:

Waiting child adoption, often referred to as special needs adoption, means adopting a child from the foster care system. “Special needs” often makes people think of children with severe problems or limitations, such as needing a wheelchair. In reality, waiting children fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Minority children of all ages (65% of waiting children are African American)
  • Children who may have emotional, learning, physical, or developmental issues
  • Children who must be placed in the same home along with their brothers or sisters
  • Children over the age of five (The majority of waiting Caucasian children are over the age of nine)

In most cases, these children have had traumatic past experiences that may include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and/or severe neglect. Others may have been drug and/or alcohol exposed. All of these children have experienced the grief and loss of having been separated from their families.

International adoption means adopting a child from a country other than the United States. The kinds of children available vary by country. Also, each country has certain restrictions about the types of families that can adopt, including age and marital status.

Private infant adoption involves adopting an infant that has been voluntarily relinquished by his/her birth parent(s). The child is typically a newborn, but occasionally is older, when placed in the adoptive home. The birth parent usually selects the adoptive family and also decides how open, in terms of contact and updates, the adoption will be.

What does “foster-to-adopt” mean? What about “dual licensing”?

“Foster-to-adopt” means families become foster parents with the hope and intent that they will adopt a foster child that comes into their home. In Michigan, we call this same process “dual licensing.” Families complete the foster care licensing requirements and the adoption requirements at the same time. It saves time and reduces duplicate paperwork. It is also beneficial to children because they won’t move as often.

Should I become a foster parent so I can adopt a younger child?

Because foster care is considered to be a temporary placement, not every child that comes into your home will be eligible for adoption. A foster parent is expected to work with the agency and birth parents, in the hopes that the family will be reunited. A foster parent must be objective, and must be able to assist a child if and when it comes time for that child to leave the foster home.

Sometimes, however, children are unable to return home. Once parental rights are terminated, relatives and foster parents are given consideration for adoption.

Do I have to be married to adopt or be a foster parent?

You don’t have to be married to adopt or foster a child or children. Many children will thrive in a single parent home.  For adoption though, most birth parents do have a preference for a two-parent home.

Do I have to own my own home?

You don’t have to own your own home to adopt or foster a child. A rented house or apartment is fine, as long as there is adequate bedroom space per child. The home must be free from health and fire hazards, and must have a safe play area for children.

What is the cost of fostering to adopt?

You do not have to be rich to adopt or be a foster parent. Even if you receive some type of financial assistance, you are still eligible to adopt or provide foster care as long as you have adequate financial resources to provide for your family and the additional children you with to bring into your home.

What is the cost of private infant adoption?

The cost varies depending on how early the birth parent began receiving our services and her overall needs. The average cost of a private infant adoption in Michigan is around $32,000. At Grant Me Hope though, one of our top goals is to make it more affordable for those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to adopt due to financial constraints. An average adoption through Grant Me Hope is closer to $20,000.

Why are so many of the waiting children older? Are there any younger children waiting for adoption?

In Michigan, more than 92% of waiting children are adopted by foster parents or relatives. While half of all adoptions from the foster care system are of children under the age of five, almost all of them are adopted by a foster parent or relative. Many of those children are also part of a sibling group that includes older children, where all of the children need to be placed together.

Can I adopt just one child in a sibling group?

Children in the foster care system have already experienced a great deal of loss. They have lost their parents, their friends and families, even their homes. Often, they have also lost their school, their neighborhood, their toys, and their clothes. In many cases, the only connection they still have is to their brothers or sisters. Michigan’s policy is to act in the best interests of the children. Siblings are placed together unless there’s an important reason to separate them. If for some reason siblings cannot be placed together, it’s possible they will need to continue to visit with each other, even after they are placed in separate families.

What happens once my home study is completed? How long will it take for a child to be placed in my home?

Waiting Child Adoption:  Once your home study is complete, you may start inquiring about children your family is interested in. Your adoption worker will share information about your family – including your homestudy– with the child’s worker. Usually, children’s workers gather information on multiple families at the same time, in order to find a family that best meets the needs of the child. Once the family has been chosen, the child’s worker will share more in-depth, detailed information with the family’s adoption worker. Usually called a Child Assessment, this report contains information such as how the child came into foster care, how long the child has been in care, how many placements the child has lived in, and any diagnoses the child may have. It is then up to the family to decide if they want to proceed with an adoptive placement. Families and children need time to get to know one another. Visitation will take place in a way that is best for the child and family, and may include afternoon visits, overnight visits, and even weekend visits. It is up to the child’s and family’s workers to determine the schedule, including when a child will make the final move into a family’s home. These same procedures apply for families adopting a child from another state. Families need to be prepared to travel to the state the child lives in for at least an initial meeting and visit, and perhaps even for an extended stay.

Private Infant Adoption:  Either during the home study or right after, you will complete a profile. The profile includes information and pictures of your family and is shared with birth parents when they are ready to select a family. After the birth parents select a family they typically meet and get to know each other, although in rare occasions, the birth parents prefer to have a closed adoption. Every experience is different but may include the adoptive parents being present at the hospital at the time of birth as well as continued contact after placement. The timing of adoption is the hardest to predict as it really depends on so many factors. An average placement occurs around a year after the home study is completed, but it can be as little as a few weeks or closer to upward of three years.

Is there some kind of financial assistance available if I choose to foster or adopt a child?

Waiting Child Adoption:  The Adoption Subsidy Program provides financial support subsidy and/or medical subsidy for families adopting children from the foster care system. There is also financial assistance available for those who provide foster care. Support subsidy assists with the payment of expenses related to caring for and raising the child. Medical subsidy assists with the costs of necessary treatment for physical, mental, or emotional conditions which existed, or the cause of which existed, prior to adoption. Neither is meant to cover all expenses incurred in raising a child; rather, these payments are meant to help offset some of the cost.

The amount paid is dependent on the needs of the child, not the family. The amount is set by the State agency responsible for the child’s care. In the case of adoption, subsidy eligibility must be determined before the petition for adoption is filed, and a subsidy agreement must be signed before the adoption is final. Not all children will qualify for adoption subsidy. It is dependent upon each child’s individual needs.

Private Infant Adoption:  The Adoption Subsidy Program does not apply to private adoption. There are, however, many organizations that offer grants which you can apply for. There is also the option of applying for a low-rate adoption loan. Many families will do some fundraising as well.

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