If you’re looking to become a parent, the child adoption process is one option to consider. Adoptive parents must complete several steps before bringing home an adopted child.
What does the adoption process look like in Alabama?
There are two different types of adoption: agency placement and independent placement. In agency placements, adoptive parents work with agencies such as Lutheran Services in America (LSA) or Children’s Aid Society (CAS).
These agencies provide services such as matching adoptive parents with birth mothers and handling legal paperwork during the course of the adoption process.
In independent placements, birth mothers find their own adoptive families without outside help from agencies that place children. There is a great increase in independent placements, with many agencies across the country not even taking agency cases anymore because of lower success rates and greater expenses to the adoptive parents.
In both agency and independent adoptions, there are three types of adoption: local placement, interstate placement, and foreign adoption.
In a local placement, a birth mother lives within Alabama but her child or children will be placed for adoption in another state. In an interstate placement, a birth mother lives outside of Alabama but her child or children will be adopted by an Alabamian family through an approved agency.
The most common type of intercountry adoption is when the biological parents live in one country and the adoptive parents reside in another country such as Ukraine or Colombia for example.
Department Of Human Resources In Alabama
The process of adoption is different for each type of placement, but Alabama has streamlined the process to make it easier for adoptive families to bring their children home.
After completing an application with a licensed child-placing agency (CPA), the agency will contact the Department of Human Resources (DHR), Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) to start the foster care adoption certification process.
Once DHR receives the request, they will gather information about you, your family, and your home. The investigating agent assigned to you by DHR will discuss that information with a social worker from another county or state who may also visit your home. Once approved as an adoptive parent – whether through local placement, interstate placement the process begins.
During this time, you are required to attend classes on adoption. These courses are designed to inform prospective parents of the child’s history and issues that may be faced by children who come from abusive or neglectful backgrounds.
After approval, your case will be presented to a judge for final approval, unless it is an Interstate adoption in which case several steps have already been taken. During the court process, there may be visits with children available for adoption through DHR to determine if you would accept any additional siblings into your home after adopting one(s) initially.
Once approved by the court, all approvals are valid for six months before being reviewed again. At that time, another visit with DHR could occur prior to continuing with certification. The process may appear long, but remember, adoption is not for everyone.
It may also be confusing to you as well as DHR why a child seems to have no interest in being adopted by you after the finalization of the process. Some children are just afraid of change and may require more time or visits through visitation with them to feel comfortable with your family. Adoption is a long process, but it’s worth it!
We have our approval! Now what?
Now that you have been approved by DHR to adopt a child, there are several steps to take before actually adopting. First of all, if you currently have any other children who will be living with the new adoptive child(ren) at home, they must also be approved by DHR before placement can begin for the new child(ren).
Your family will also need to be home studied. This study will include information about your children, your household (including financials), and any other factors that may affect the placement of a child in your home.
The person who is conducting the study will also visit with you to make sure you are ready for an adoptive placement – this sometimes includes some hands-on stuff like watching how you interact together as a family or if some people don’t get along well (we’re looking at you, teenagers).
Once approved by DHR, the new family will start a training class. The training class usually lasts about 6 weeks and is done over a Saturday from 10 AM-3 PM.
It covers many of the legal aspects of being a foster parent but also looks heavily into how to be supportive of children going through grief or trauma, building healthy relationships with adoptive children, and parenting techniques that are more beneficial than just spanking for every infraction.
The final step before placement is getting fingerprinted at your county jail or sheriff’s office – this can take some time to complete depending on what day of the week you go in. After that is finished, you will be able to receive your foster child whenever that process begins.
Alabama also has the potential to provide subsidies for some or all of the cost of things like clothes, diapers, etc. – check with local contacts for more info on this topic.
It’s all worth it in the end when you get to put your stamp on a child’s life and make them feel loved.