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 (also called a family assessment) is done by a social worker at a licensed adoption agency, and typically takes at least six months to complete. The home study consists of a series of meetings between the family and the adoption worker, with at least one meeting occurring in the family’s home. It provides an educational opportunity for the family to learn more and seriously consider their motivations and expectations for adoption. It also gives the adoption worker a chance to get to know the family.

On average, it takes six months to finalize an adoption after a child is placed in your home. During this time your adoption worker will visit you regularly to see how your new family is adjusting. Counseling and support services may be available after a child is placed in your home. The home study generally includes the following:

  • Personal History – A complete history and evaluation of your current family life and past experiences – and how they will affect your capacity to parent an adoptive child – is written. This helps the adoption worker decide how a child will fit into your family, and determine what type of child might do best in your home. Children living in the home are also interviewed (depending on their age and level of understanding) about how they feel and what adoption means to them. Any other adult in the home (parents, aunts, cousins, live-together partners), will also be interviewed.
  • Health Statements – Everyone in your home will need to provide a medical history and a recent physical (within one year). A medical condition that is under control (high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) usually will not prevent a person from being approved to adopt.
  • Criminal Background Check- All adults living in the home will need to complete a State Police check and Protective Service clearance. Some counties may also require local police clearances, as well. Adoptive parents will also need to provide fingerprints.
  • Income Statement – You will be asked to provide proof of your income, such as a copy of an income tax form, a paycheck stub, or a W-2 form. Bank statements and insurance policies may also be requested.
  • Personal References- You will be asked to provide the names, addresses, and phone numbers of three unrelated individuals who can share their knowledge about your experience with children, the stability of your marriage and/or household, and your motivation to adopt.
  • Training – You will need to complete a minimum of 12 hours of Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education (PRIDE) training.

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. Adoption fees for an international adoption can range from upwards of $10,000.

Infant adoption involves adopting an infant at birth. Birth parents often choose the family they wish to adopt their child, and there is usually some “openness” in infant adoption. The amount of openness in an infant adoption is decided by the birth parents and adoptive parents, and may include photographs, letters, and possibly even visits. Families adopting an infant spend thousands of dollars, and may wait upwards of three years for a placement. It is estimated that each year there are 25,000 infants available for adoption – and one million families waiting for those infants.

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.

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.

Do I need to make a lot of money?

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.

Why are so many of the available children older? Are there any younger children available 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.

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

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.

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

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.

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