The 7 Steps of the Foster Adoption Process in California

If you are considering adopting a child from foster care, congratulations! You are taking the first step to giving a permanent home to a child desperately in need of one. By choosing to consider or pursue the foster-to-adopt process in California, you can quickly add a child — and all the joy and love they bring — into your family.

However, like any hopeful parent considering any kind of adoption process, you need to fully understand how to adopt from foster care in California before beginning this process. After all, the foster care adoption process is not right for everyone. You’ll want to evaluate your personal goals and adoption preferences before committing to this or any other family-building journey.

Fortunately, the professionals at FCCA are here to help. Our foster-to-adopt process is the core of our agency, and we have helped many parents add waiting foster children to their family through this method. When you contact our agency, our professionals will guide you through all the steps to adopting a foster child. We’ll provide the support and education needed to ensure your journey is as positive as possible.

For more information on foster care and adoption, please contact us or attend an upcoming information session in your area.

While every foster child adoption process is unique, you can find an outline below of a few general steps you can expect when you start this journey.

1. Decide that Foster Care Adoption is Right for You.

The first step in every adoption process, including the process of adoption through foster care, is determining that it is truly the right path for you. Not every adoption process is right for everyone. You’ll need to evaluate your own goals and preferences and compare them to each adoption path to find the one that works best.

How do you know if the foster adoption process in California is right for you? We encourage you to reach out to our professionals to discuss your personal situation, but there are a few common reasons why people choose this specific process:

Before deciding on the foster care to adoption process, you might also consider your other two options: private domestic infant adoption and international adoption. Our agency provides all of these services, which means we can discuss all of your adoption options when you contact us.

2. Attend an Information Session and Think about Your Adoption Preferences.

While considering this path, you’ll need to understand the details of how to adopt a child from foster care. This is where FCCA comes in.

Our agency hosts free information sessions every month for prospective adoptive parents. During these sessions, you will learn more about the California foster adoption process and the children available for adoption in this state. This is a great opportunity for you to ask any questions you have and further ensure that this process is right for you.

As you learn how to adopt a foster child in California, you will also learn what options you have to pursue your personal preferences in this adoption process. For instance, you can choose what kind of adoption situations suit you, including a child’s age, race, background and more. While your FCCA caseworker will go into these preferences in more detail, it’s a good idea to start thinking about them early on.

3. Meet All of the Requirements for the Foster-to-Adopt Process.

When you ready to start the foster adoption process in California, contact our adoption specialists. They can guide you through the rest of your steps until finalization is achieved.

You must meet certain standards before starting the foster adoption matching process. All hopeful parents must complete an adoption home study, which is an investigation that determines whether a family is prepared and suitable to provide a safe and welcoming home to an adoptee. In addition to one or more in-home visits, you must complete certain training classes, paperwork, individual interviews and more. Only after you complete this process can you be approved as a Resource Family home, which is the formal name that California uses for “foster families.”

Your home study investigation will approve you to adopt children of certain backgrounds. During this stage, you will work closely with your caseworker to create an ideal child profile, known as a “child desired” form. We will use this profile in the next step to present you with adoption opportunities with which we believe you will be comfortable.

4. Wait for Your Specialist to Find an Adoption Opportunity.

Once your home study is approved and you have identified your ideal adoption opportunity, your foster child adoption process will continue with the most crucial step: finding the right waiting child. Your social worker will search through photo-listings of children waiting in the California foster system. Our agency only works with low-risk legal placements, meaning a child placed with you will be imminently ready for adoption. If your social worker locates available children who appear to meet your adoption preferences, their information will be presented to you for consideration.

Remember, you will never be forced to accept any placement unless you believe it is right for your family. Your social worker will coordinate with you to find the right child for your family.

5. Submit an Adoption Inquiry.

If you are interested in a potential adoption opportunity that has been presented to you, your social worker will submit an inquiry to the appropriate county social worker. That social worker will decide whether your family will be a good fit for that child, based on your application materials and home study information.

During this step of the foster care adoption process in California, an additional disclosure meeting will be scheduled to learn more facts about the child. If you wish to proceed after that disclosure meeting, your social worker will organize in-person meetings and visits with the child to help you get to know each other before you commit to accepting the placement.

6. Welcome the Child into Your Home.

If you, your FCCA social worker, and the child’s worker agree that this is a good match, the child will be placed into your home, with you serving as his or her foster parent. During this time, you will get to know one another and adjust to your new life as a family.

Both your social worker from FCCA and the county social worker will visit your home and the child at least once a month to ensure that the placement is going well. Your social worker will privately interview your child and review the foster care certification checklist to ensure ongoing compliance with state regulations. You will also receive important resources as you adjust to your new life as a family. You are always encouraged to reach out for assistance, because bringing a child into your home can require support and assistance as everyone adjusts to the new normal.

7. Finalize Your Adoption.

Your adoption can only be finalized a minimum of six months after placement and after the birth parents’ rights have been terminated. However, in most foster care cases, this takes at least 12-18 months from the time of placement, and can be longer if either parent files an appeal. When you do reach the stage of finalizing the adoption, FCCA’s in-house legal staff will prepare and file your finalization paperwork, at no extra cost to you, so that you do not have to pay for private legal representation.

The last step of how to adopt a foster child is to appear at your finalization hearing, at which time you will receive your final adoption certificate. At that point, your child is legally and officially a permanent member of your family.

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If you want to learn more about how to adopt a child from foster care in California, please contact FCCA today or attend one of our free information sessions. Our staff can answer any questions you have, and, when you’re ready, help you begin your California foster adoption process.