Countless children in the United States are waiting for their forever families. Adopting a child in need of a family can be one of the noblest things a person can do. At CASA of CGS in New Jersey, we do everything we can for children in the foster care system with the hope that each child is someday adopted. There are handfuls of adoption agencies a family can go through to adopt a child, but what does the adoption process look like? What steps does an adoptive family have to take to gain a new member of the family? Here are a list of steps that a family will take, and what to expect during the process.
First, there are five standards the state considers and an adoptive parent must meet to be able to adopt a child. These are:
- They may be married, single, in a civil union or domestic partnership.
- They must either own or rent a home.
- They must be 18 years or older and at least 10 years older than the child they wish to adopt.
- They must be able to financially support the child, as determined by the State of New Jersey, Department of Children and Families, Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P).
- They do not have to be a US citizen, but must have legally entered the US and be able to stay in the US during the length of the adoption.
After a parent meets these standards, the adoption process can begin!
Step 1: Adoption Licensing: The potential family must begin by filling out the Home Study and Licensing Assessment Packet in order to become a licensed Resource Family Care Provider. Once completed, this process may take up to 5 months and a family can expect to provide the following: an application, criminal background checks, child abuse background checks for the family and visitors who will often spend time with the child, reference checks, and home safety checks.
Step 2: Waiting for Availability: This step can be the hardest part of the adoption process for a family. It’s hard to predict how long an adoption can take, but the process can depend on a few factors: the type of child being referred for placement and the flexibility of the family with special needs the child may have.
Step 3: Child Selection and Pre-Placement: When a family is matched for a child through the state, CP&P staff will meet with the perspective parents and talk about the child: their hobbies, likes and dislikes, personality and any special circumstances that may impact the adoption process. Then, if the child is old enough, they are told about the possible placement and are asked to express their feelings about being placed with a family. When the caseworker and the child feel comfortable to move forward, the child begins meeting with the family. Once the child and family are fully comfortable with each other, steps are taken to move the child permanently into the family’s home.
Step 4: Child Placement and Supervision: Once the child is moved into the family’s home, a caseworker will visit during the first week, then monthly. As it is normal for an adoptive child to need counseling during any period of their life, it will be expected that a school-aged child during this time will see a therapist with their new family. CP&P is obligated to supervise the family for the first 6 months of the child’s placement. After that, if the child is eligible, the family may receive monthly subsidy payments for the child until they turn 18 or graduates high school or an equivalent.
Step 5: Finalization: The final step! After 6 months, consent to adopt is usually issued to the family by CP&P. That consent is forwarded to the parent’s attorney who files a legal petition to adopt and schedules a final hearing. Additional resources are given to the family that can be used after the adoption is finalized.
If you or someone you know are considering adoption, visit nj.gov for more specific guidelines and information for adoption in the state of NJ.