Vol. 17, No. 2 • May 2013

A reader asks . . .
Are foster parents automatically approved to adopt?

I'm a foster parent in NC. Does that mean I'm approved to adopt a child from foster care? Can I inquire about children I see on AdoptUsKids or NC Kids websites?

In North Carolina, being a licensed foster parent and being approved to adopt are different. While many of the policies and requirements are the same and the approval process is similar, being licensed as a foster parent does not automatically mean you are approved to adopt.

To adopt a child, North Carolina foster parents must go through the process for becoming an approved adoptive family.

If you are interested in adopting a child currently in your home, please speak with the child's agency and/or your licensing worker.

Choosing an Adoption Agency
Your first step is to locate an agency to help you adopt a child or children from foster care. You may wish to contact your county department of social services first to determine if they offer adoption services. If you're already a licensed foster parent, contact your licensing agency to discuss with them whether they do adoptions. If they don't, you will need to find an agency that does.

NC agencies that complete adoptions from foster care include:

  • Another Choice for Black Children
  • Barium Springs Children's Home
  • Boys and Girls Home
  • Children's Home Society
  • Community Services for Children
  • Easter Seals UCP of NC & VA
  • Ebenezer Christian Children's Home
  • Lutheran Family Services
  • Methodist Home for Children
  • Omni Visions
  • Seven Homes
  • The Children's Home

Other private licensed adoption agencies can also complete pre-placements and assist with adoptions from foster care, but fees may be involved. Contact information for all licensed NC adoption agencies can be found at http://bit.ly/YdNrOd

The Pre-Placement Assessment
Once you select an agency, you will be assigned a social worker. Your social worker will want to visit your home, get to know you and your family, and discuss their agency's policies and procedures.

To adopt in North Carolina, a family must have an approved Pre-Placement Assessment that contains specific recommendations as to the age range, number, and gender of children they are approved to adopt. This recommendation is based on a variety of factors including family dynamics, number of bedrooms in the home, the number of other children or adults in the home, and parenting experience, to name a few.

You will be asked about your background, family history, current employment and employment history, income, your motivation to adopt, your parenting experience and other pertinent information. A criminal background check and other clearances will be completed.

The Rest of the Process
When your Pre-Placement Assessment is done, you'll work with your social worker to find a child or sibling group that's a good match for your family. Once you do, your agency will submit your Pre-Placement Assessment to the child's agency. There may be other families interested in the child or sibling group. For this and other reasons, the process of finding the right match can take time.

When a child's agency thinks your family is a good match, arrangements will be made for you to visit with the child. If all goes well, the child will move in with you and after some time passes--usually six months--the process of legalizing the adoption in court begins. Finally that day will come when a Decree of Adoption makes the child legally one of the family.

Adoption Is Worth the Wait
As this short summary suggests, even when it runs smoothly the adoption process requires patience. But it can make a lifetime of difference to a child or sibling group waiting for a forever family. Adoption: it's worth the wait!

Response by the NC Division of Social Services. If you have a question about foster care or adoption in North Carolina you'd like answered in "A Reader Asks," send it to us using the contact information found here.

Interested in Adoption? Visit NC Kids

At NC Kids, a service of the NC Division of Social Services, we help connect waiting children with families through the following services:

Registry of Waiting Children. NC Kids makes it easy for prospective adoptive parents to learn about available children by posting profiles on its own website and on the AdoptUsKids website.

Registry of Potential Families. NC Kids maintains a registry of approved adoptive families who have a current pre-placement assessment. Families can participate in this registry, which NC Kids uses to match families with children awaiting adoption.

Preliminary Matching. NC Kids pre-screens families with approved pre-placement assessments to help child-placing agencies match families with waiting children.

Hotline. NC Kids operates a hotline (877-625-4371) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Families who call the hotline speak to NC Kids staff members who can answer questions about foster care and adoption and connect them with child-placing agencies. We follow up with each caller to ensure no family is lost while navigating the system.

NC Kids works with agencies, children, and families. We are not an adoption agency and do not make any decisions about child placement.

For more information, or to register with NC Kids, please call our hotline at 877-625-4371 or email us at [email protected].

To view references cited in this and other articles in this issue, click here.

~ Family and Children's Resource Program, UNC-CH School of Social Work ~