National Adoption Month: Adoption from Foster Care

November marks National Adoption Month, a dedicated time to spotlight the crucial need for adoptive families within the foster care system. In honor of Adoption Month, this blog post will explore the adoption process when a child who is placed with a public agency is eligible to be adopted.

Not every child in foster care is eligible for adoption, as parental rights must be terminated either through voluntary surrender to an agency or by a court order. Both processes are intricate and time-consuming. Further, the primary goal of foster care agencies is reunification with biological family members. However, in Ohio alone, there are currently around 3000 children within the foster care system who are ready for adoption.

For families entering the foster care system with the hope to adopt, exploring the Adoption Profiles provided by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services can be beneficial. This resource features descriptions of children who are waiting for their forever families, as parental rights have already been terminated.

Prospective adoptive parents will undergo training, the specifics of which vary. All adoptive parents must provide adequate space for the foster child, ensure that everyone 18 and older undergoes a criminal background check, and maintain a hazard-free home.

In adoptive situations, after at least six months in the prospective foster parents’ home, an adoption petition can be filed. A home study is a prerequisite to assess the suitability of the adoptive parents and their home for the child or children.

The legal process typically involves two main steps. First, a Petition for Adoption is filed, detailing information about the child and prospective parents, along with how the biological parents’ rights were terminated or if they consented to the adoption. Additionally, consents from the agency holding permanent custody and, if the child is over 12 years old, the child’s consent are required (unless an exception is provided). Second, there is generally just one hearing, where the judge reviews the petition, allows time for personal stories from family members and caseworkers, and finalizes the adoption. At this point, the adoption is legally binding – there is one less child waiting for their family!

While adoptions can take various routes, this overview is particularly relevant for those becoming foster care parents with an intention to adopt a child who is already waiting for their forever home . For long-term foster parents willing to help care for children who are able to be reunited with their biological families, of which there is just as great of a need, cases may, but do not always, turn to adoption. Regardless, the paramount concern is always providing children with a safe and happy home as long as they are in our care, whether for a few weeks, a few years, or forever. As National Adoption Month concludes, consider how you can support your community’s foster care system, foster families, or adoptive families. Not all of us are able to foster or adopt a child, but all of us can provide assistance in one way or another.

If you’re considering adoption and have legal questions, contact EQUES® Law Group for guidance.

Moriah E. Hinton
Adoption Attorney

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