The process from deciding you want to give a foster child a permanent home to actually finalizing the adoption is a long one, generally taking around a year. If you're currently a foster parent and want to adopt your foster child--or you wish to adopt a child from the foster care system--the process can seem complicated and overwhelming. By breaking down the legal process step by step, you can make your journey to adopting a foster child a much easier transition.
Find local adoption agencies. Contact them about their experiences with foster children adoption, and select one you're comfortable dealing with.
Make sure you meet the basic foster adoption requirements, which can differ from each state and are much less strict than international adoption requirements. Generally, you must be between 21 and 55 years old, have no felony convictions and live in a home that fulfills your state's size requirement.
Fill out an adoption application with your agency, which may ask for things such as your name, address, employer and financial information, as well as copies of your personal identification (such as your driver's license, birth certificate and pay stub). Your agency may require you to attend a foster adoption orientation to learn about the process before you submit your application.
Talk to the agency to find out what the expected financial costs will be so you can budget accordingly. Foster child adoption is one of the least expensive types of adoption, and some costs may be reimbursable (such as home study and court costs). However, you may have to pay for physical or psychological exams if the agency requests it.
Sign up for your state's specific foster pre-adoption classes. These classes can prepare you for what to expect during the adoption process and the challenges of raising a child who has been neglected or abused in the past.
Make an appointment with your adoption agency to arrange for a home study. A case worker from the agency will first run a criminal background check on you and anyone living in your home, and then an employment check to find out your reliability and job performance.
Choose at least three friends, relatives or people close to you to be your personal references. Your case worker will contact and interview them about your personality and parenting style.
Wait to hear from your case worker. After you pass the background and employment checks and provide references, your case worker will come to your home to perform the home study. She'll make sure your home is a safe place to raise a child and, if you're currently your prospective adoptive child's foster parent, she'll make sure you're following your state's foster care procedures.
Wait for your adoption agency. Once your case worker contacts you to inform you that you've passed the home study, you'll need to wait for your adoption agency to find a foster child for you, if you don't currently have one. Once it does, it will contact you to arrange a previsit with the child to make sure you're comfortable with the placement.
Have your child move into your home. Wait for your case worker to give you a court date where you'll sign the adoption papers and make the adoption legal and complete.