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Frequently Asked Questions about Adoption

There are many myths about adopting which range from only the rich can afford it to there are so many requirements that few will ever qualify. Hopefully, the following questions and answers will address your concerns and help you realize that you can do this!

  1. Why do children become available for adoption?
  2. What does Special Needs mean?
  3. Where do these children come from?
  4. Is more information available on the child besides the write up?
  5. How much does it cost to adopt a special needs child?
  6. How do I know if I am eligible to adopt?
  7. How long does this take?
  8. How do I get a child?
  9. What is a Wednesday's Child or a Thursday's Child?
  10. What does referred mean?
  11. Should you call on a child that is referred?
  12. If I call about a child, does that mean I will get to adopt the child?
  13. How is a family selected for a child or sibling group?
  14. What happens if my family is selected?
  15. What happens after the child is placed?
  16. Am I the legal parent once the child is placed?
  17. Can the birth parents come and get the child I adopt?
  18. Can I still get help after the adoption is finalized?
  19. I want to adopt, but can't afford another child. Is there financial help?
  20. If I adopt an older child I won't have time to save for his education. Can I get help?
  21. May I take a foster child into my home and adopt him?
  22. There are so many teenagers in SNAP. Can you successfully adopt a teen?
  23. Can I adopt a child from another state or another country? Are independent or private agency adoptions allowed?

 

  1. Why do children become available for adoption?
    There are many reasons, but what is true for each child is that children grow up best in healthy, safe families. When a child is being neglected and/or abused, the child is placed in foster care until the child's parents can provide a safe home for their children. When a child is removed from the birth parents’ home for protection, a treatment plan is developed with the parents' involvement to address, and hopefully resolves, whatever is putting the child at risk of harm. If the parents are unwilling or unable to do this, or they have problems that could take the child's entire childhood to overcome, then the court terminates parental rights and the child is then available for adoption.

  2. What does Special Needs mean?
    There are as many special needs as there are children. This can include being older or having brothers and sisters that need to stay together. A majority of the children have emotional scars of some degree from being abused, neglected or abandoned and they need a special family to help them heal. Other children may have educational needs that require special education services or physical problems that may require special equipment, medical, or dietary services. Most of the children have a combination of issues; for example, a child may be ten years old and need special education classes. Almost all of the children have learned to be leery of adults so they won't get emotionally hurt again. It is hard for them to trust. Who can blame them? The ultimate special need is when there is no family for a child who needs one.

  3. Where do these children come from?
    They come from all over Kentucky. Most of the children listed are currently in a foster home. The foster home could the child's only placement since being removed from their birth family, or it could be one in a series of moves the child has experienced. Sometimes the children come from a previous adoptive placement that did not work. Other times a child may need more structure and treatment than can be provided in a family setting so the child lives in a residential treatment facility or group home. Children have been successfully adopted from each one of these settings.

  4. Is more information available on the child besides the write up?
    Yes. The brief bio on the child is only intended to tell you enough to decide whether you want to call for more information. The Regional SNAP Specialist can assist you with your questions about the child. Since the child descriptions are updated annually, the SNAP Specialist can provide you with any significant changes since the original write-up. When a family is selected for a child, their worker will review all the information available on the child and the information will be available to you.

  5. How much does it cost to adopt a special needs child?
    There are no adoption fees or charges for your homestudy. The Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children is funded by your tax dollars. Through the adoption assistance program, your attorney fees and related court costs for finalizing the adoption can be reimbursed up to $1,000. Additionally, there are tax deductions and tax credits available to adoptive families for which you may qualify. Most of the children in SNAP qualify for financial assistance through the adoption subsidy program. See the FAQ which addresses those who want to adopt but don’t believe they can afford a child.

  6. How do I know if I am eligible to adopt?
    Call and talk to one of the SNAP staff or the R&C worker in your area. The requirements are more flexible than you may think.
    • You must be a Kentucky resident.
    • You must be at least twenty-one years of age.
    • Your family status can be: You can be single, married, divorced, or widowed.  You can have step children, birth children, adopted, foster children or adult children in your home.  You can be a working couple, a working mother or father, a stay at home parent or retired.
    • Suitable living arrangements. You can live in a house, apartment, or mobile home as long as you have sufficient space for another child. The child does not have to have a room of his own, but we do not want the child sleeping on a couch in the living room either. Bunk beds are fine.
    • Again, both single and married families are needed.
    • Reasonably good health You need to physically be able to parent the specific child you want with a normal expectation of raising the child to maturity. People with medical conditions, which are under control or a physical disability, are eligible. A physical and report from your doctor are required.
    • Adequate income. There is no income level that is required. Rather, your income should be enough to meet the needs of your current family. Financial assistance is available for many of the children in the form of an adoption subsidy.
    • Stable family relationships. If you are married, it is very important that both parents want to adopt or foster. If you or another family member have sought counseling or similar help to overcome a problem, you are still eligible. In fact, people who seek help when needed often make very good foster and adoptive parents.
    • Flexibility. Parents are needed who can "give and take." Patience and a sense of humor are a must for parenting. Flexibility also refers to the openness of the parent(s) to receiving help from their worker and community resources, as many of our children need mental health counseling to heal. Sometimes new parenting techniques are needed to help children who have been abused and/or neglected. Parenting a child who does not trust adults is different than parenting one that has always been safe.
    • Successfully complete the preparation and approval process.  The adoption process begins with a series of group educational meetings (30 hours total) to provide an opportunity to learn more about special needs adoption/foster care and to seriously consider your expectations and how becoming an adoptive or foster parent will change your family. Next, one of the R&C staff will visit your home to ensure it is a safe environment (for example - do you have smoke alarms?) and to help you decide what kind of child or children would best fit in your family. A police record check of the domestic violence and child abuse databases, personal references and other paperwork are required.
    • The last step is for your social worker to compile all the material along with a written summary or narrative about your family, your strengths and the type of child(ren) you seek and submit it for approval in your region. The approval your home for foster care and/or adoption does not guarantee the placement of a child.

  7. How long does this take?
    There are many factors that determine this. Generally, it takes around six months to be approved. The length of time before placement depends on the type of child or children desired.

  8. How do I get a child?
    Once approved, there are two ways to get a child or children.
    • One way is for staff to suggest a child or children for you based on what you have told us you want. One of the forms you will fill out is called the Acceptance Scale. It tells us what you are looking for in regards to the child’s age, gender, number of siblings, types and degree of special needs. You do not have to agree to accept any child or children into your home that staff has suggested.
    • The second way is for you to ask to be considered for a specific child or siblings. You simply identify the child from Wednesday's Child, Thursday's Child, our web site or CD-ROM, or one you have met at a SNAP picnic. We recommend you call the appropriate SNAP Specialist for more information on the child. Then, just call your R&C worker and ask that a Notification of Interest be filled out for you. This form gets your homestudy sent to the child's worker for consideration.

  9. What is a Wednesday's Child or a Thursday's Child?
    Wednesday's Child and Thursday's Child are brief televised features highlighting specific children or sibling groups that are available for adoption. Generally the child and the television host do an activity like bowling or doing crafts while the child is interviewed and asked questions about likes and hopes for an adoptive family. Nationwide, they have helped thousands of children find adoptive homes by generating many calls to programs like SNAP. In Kentucky, there are three viewing possibilities depending on where you live. Check your local viewing guide for specific channels.
    • Wednesday's Child can be seen on WLKY-TV 32, a CBS affiliate. Times shown are on the Wednesday Noon news and the 6:00 p.m. news.
    • Thursday's Child (Lexington) can be seen on WLEX-TV 18, an NBC affiliate.  The time shown is on Thursday Noon news.
    • Thursday's Child (Cincinnati/Northern KY) can be seen on WKRC-TV, a CBS affiliate. The time shown is during the 5:00 p.m. news.

  10. What does referred mean?
    You may notice some of the children are referred. This means a family has been selected for the child or children. If a family has been selected, why isn't the photo and write-up removed from the site? The quick answer is it is too early. If you take at look at the FAQ on the adoption process under the heading What if my family is selected? you will see that the referral is just the beginning in placing a child for adoption. It means no other families will be considered while the process plays out. A referral starts with the child's information being reviewed by the family's worker and the family. Sometimes the family decides they are no longer interested and the referral is withdrawn. By leaving the child on the web, less precious time is lost getting recruitment going again.

    If the family accepts the referral, then a meeting, called a pre-placement conference, is held. This is when the adoptive family gets to meet the child's foster family or the staff if the child is in a group home. This is when the agency shares everything known about the child with the family. Equally important, are the relationships that start at this meeting. Though not often, there are times at these meetings that the family decides not to pursue the adoption. Sometimes the family stops the adoption during the visitation phase. Since our goal is to find the best family in the shortest time, the child remains on the website until placement. If you watch our site long enough you will see the referred marker come off some of our listed children.

  11. Should you call on a child that is referred? You decide. The SNAP specialist will be able to let you know what stage the adoption is in, e.g., "they are visiting." We will not be able to tell you how well it is going due to confidentiality. It may take some time for your inquiry to be answered, as inquiries on "unreferred" children are the priority.

  12. If I call about a child, does that mean I will get to adopt the child?
    Maybe. Families who are already approved may also be calling about the same child. This is why we recommend becoming approved as soon as you decide you want to adopt. The child's social worker, by law, is required to find a family that can best meet the child's needs in the shortest length of time. Therefore, staff cannot wait for a family to finish the preparation and approval process. Sometimes, the worker may have several families from which to choose. Other times, a family calls and the child is still available when the family becomes approved.

  13. How is a family selected for a child or sibling group?
    Matching the strengths of a family with the needs of a child is not easy. It is such an important decision for the family and the child that the child’s social worker does not make the decision alone. A selection committee of at least three people is utilized: the child's worker, the worker's supervisor and a third party - usually an adoption specialist familiar with the case. Each member reads and reviews the study and then they meet to identify and choose the most appropriate family for the child. Your R&C worker may be contacted for more information on your family.

    If you are not selected, your worker will be told why and will share the reasons with you. If you are not selected, it does not mean anything is wrong with your family. It may mean the child's needs are greater than you can accept, or the services the child needs are not available in your area, or that their were many families seeking the same child.

    DON'T GIVE UP! You may not be a strong match for one child and be the BEST match for another!

  14. What happens if my family is selected?
    Congratulations! Your R&C worker will tell you a referral has been made to you. This means no other families will be considered until you decide to accept or not accept the referral. Your worker will receive the child's presentation summary and other information and will review it with you. A presentation summary is a document which details the child’s birth information, circumstances of his entry into foster care, a list of where he has lived, his educational and social history, personality, information on his birth family and any evaluations or assessments pertaining to his special needs. You will be given a copy of these materials if you accept the referral. If you wish to proceed, your worker and the child's worker will schedule a pre-placement conference.

    Significant people in the child's life, for example, his foster parents, teacher, counselor, etc., and you and your worker will meet at this conference to review all the information we have on the child. You are also developing relationships with the people who know the child the best and with whom you will work in moving the child to your home. This includes information on the child's birthparents; the child's placements; any educational, medical and developmental history; and recommendations for future services. You will also learn about the day to day activities of the child like: eating, sleeping and play habits, fears, important relationships, school experiences and the child's feelings about being adopted and moving from wherever he is living. We recommend, at first, using the same parenting techniques in your home that have helped the child make improvements in his behavior in his foster home.

    You will be offered time to decide whether the child will fit into your home. Some families know right then and some need a day or two to think it through. A very key point is the child does not know of your interest or that the conference is being held. So if you decide not to proceed, the child will not know and hence, not be hurt or feel rejected. After you meet the child, this will not be true.

    If you wish to proceed, the next step is to develop a plan for introductions and subsequent visits. Visits are designed to ease the child into your home as well as ease the separation and loss the child always feels when moving yet again. The visits also give you a chance to "practice" an effective parenting style specific to the child. Your worker and the child’s worker will help you with this transition.

  15. What happens after the child is placed?
    Often the child is an utter delight and you may wonder if what you heard about his behavior at the pre-placement conference was wrong. This is called the honeymoon! You will know when it is over! It is important to remember that the child has trouble trusting that you will keep him. At some point, the child will have to test you to see if you are serious about becoming his parent for good. In essence, you have to prove to the child that you are worth his taking the unimaginable risk of being emotionally vulnerable…again. Remember, you are not in this alone! Your worker is required by law to visit the child once a month but is always available to help. This may take the form of a friendly ear, additional visits to your home or referrals for services. Parents who have adopted previously are another resource to share experiences and knowledge. There is a statewide adoption support group as well as local chapters. Your worker can help you locate an appropriate support service.

  16. Am I the legal parent once the child is placed?
    No. The Cabinet for Families and Children remains the legal parent until the adoption is finalized. At placement, you and the worker will sign an adoptive placement agreement, which spells outs the rights and responsibilities of the Cabinet and you. Ask to see a copy of this form at the preplacement conference or at any time. When you are ready to finalize the adoption (a minimum of ninety days from placement), simply call your worker for details. The Cabinet will issue a consent to the adoption and a court report is required. You can be reimbursed up to $1000 per child for attorney fees and court costs. After you finalize the adoption, you have full parental rights and responsibilities as if the child were born to you. A new birth certificate will be issued listing you as the parent.

  17. Can the birth parents come and get the child I adopt?
    No. Once the child's birth parents' rights are terminated there is an opportunity for them to appeal the court's decision. This appeal time is only thirty days from the time the judge signs the termination order. Once this "window" is closed the birth parents and all birth relatives have no legal recourse and legally are not related to the child. There will be no "baby Jessica" messes. Sometimes a case is on appeal while the adoption recruitment proceeds. In these relatively rare cases, any interested family will be informed that the case is a "legal risk" case. Some families are comfortable with this risk and some are not. You will be asked if you are open to these situations when you fill out the Acceptance Scale. If not, a legal risk case will not be offered to you. If later, you see a child that you are very interested in and did not check that you are willing to accept a legal risk placement, call your R&C worker and your Acceptance Scale can be updated.

  18. Can I still get help after the adoption is finalized?
    Yes! Once your adoption is finalized, you are not required to have a social worker visit you and the child each month as the child is legally yours and is no longer a "ward of the state." But, you can request help. See the next question.

  19. I want to adopt, but can't afford another child. Is there financial help?
    Yes! It is called Adoption Assistance or adoption subsidy. It is a program designed to remove financial barriers for families wanting to adopt special needs children. It provides a monthly check to meet the needs of the children who qualify. Most of the children in SNAP are eligible. The amount of the assistance is based on the child's age and special needs. The assistance is tax- free and is sent to the parents each month. Prior to the child's placement, your R&C worker will help you to develop your assistance package.

    The adoption assistance, also called adoption subsidy, continues until the child is eighteen or nineteen years old if the child stays in school. A Kentucky medical assistance card is generally available for all children who have an adoption assistance agreement.

    For more information, contact the R&C worker in your area and request a copy of "Kentucky's Adoption Assistance Handbook for Parents."

  20. If I adopt an older child I won't have time to save for his education. Can I get help?
    Yes. Children in the Special Needs Adoption Program are eligible for tuition waivers and mandatory instruction fees at Kentucky's public colleges and universities, including schools in the Kentucky Community and Technical College system. Costs for books, room and board cannot be waived.

    Your R&C worker can help you with the specific requirements and application process.

  21. May I take a foster child into my home and adopt him?
    Maybe. Foster care is temporary care with the goal of reuniting the child with his birth family. Three out of four foster children do go home and foster parents are required to help the child successfully reunite with his birth parents. In the event that the child's return home plan changes to adoption, the foster family may apply to adopt. Many adoptions in Kentucky are foster parent adoptions. In selecting adoptive families, the best interest of the child is always of the up-most importance. Therefore, many factors have to be considered, for example, does the child need to be adopted with his siblings who may be in other foster homes?

    Many families choose to be approved for both adoption and foster care. Families are advised not to foster just so they can get a younger child. Remember, three out of four return to their birth families. However, with additional training families may become concurrent planning foster homes. This program uses risk assessments to try and predict which child is the one in four who will not return to the birth family. These foster parents are required to work with the birth parents to return the child, but if that does not occur within twelve months of entry into foster care, then the termination of parental rights are pursued and the foster family adopts the child. The program is designed to prevent harm to vulnerable young children by shifting the emotional risk to the adults. Not all families can accept the uncertainty of not knowing if they get to keep the child. Your R&C worker can help you in deciding whether to explore this option.

  22. There are so many teenagers in SNAP. Can you successfully adopt a teen?
    Yes! Remember, family and adoption are for life; neither end just because someone turns eighteen. The frightening statistics on what happens to teens who age out of the foster care system without a family suggests this age group may need adoption as much as the younger children. Adopting a teenager has its challenges, but it is worth it.

    A primary challenge is balancing a teen's normal developmental tasks with the tasks of joining a new, unknown family. Two primary tasks for teens are determining who he is (identity) and separating from his family to prepare for adulthood. Determining who you are is more difficult when you have two or more families. Joining a family and simultaneously separating from one is obviously tough. It helps to remember that many teens in foster care are emotionally younger than their chronological age.

    Many teenagers put forth bravado with statements like, "I don't want to be adopted," or "I already have a family (birth family)." We forget that the teen is still dealing with the pain of rejection and loss and has a significant need to not get hurt again. If the teen says he does not want to be adopted, then there will be no further rejection when no one wants to adopt him. This just confirms his sense of being unlovable and unwanted. In reality, many teens that adamantly deny wanting an adoptive family are thrilled to hear there is a family interested in them. Many teenagers are successfully placed in adoptive homes.

    With the availability of tuition waiver for post-secondary education, now is the time to consider bringing a teen into your home and heart.

  23. Can I adopt a child from another state or another country? Are independent or private agency adoptions allowed?
    Yes. To access this information, ask the R&C worker in your area. There are links on the SNAP website to a list of private agencies in Kentucky licensed for adoption and information on how to adopt children from another state. If you do not have internet access, you can go to your public library or ask to use a PC in the R&C office.

 

Last Updated 11/12/2013
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