Steps In The Adoption Process
Congratulations! You have taken your first step on the road to adoption. (See Choosing Adoption: The MARE Guide to Adopting a Waiting Child for more details)
Step 1: Choose an Agency
To become an adoptive parent to a child in foster care, you can work with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or one of the agencies with whom DCF contracts. You can call MARE at 617-964-MARE (6273) or 1-800-882-1176 to get phone numbers for these agencies. It is recommended that prospective parents talk to more than one agency to find the one that is the best fit before making the final choice. Many of the offices and agencies will invite you to an informational meeting. An application will be sent to you and preliminary screening will occur.
Step 2: Enroll in Massachusetts Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) Training
After preliminary paperwork and screenings are performed and met with approval, prospective adoptive parents will be invited to attend a training and preparation course. MAPP training is typically held one night per week for ten weeks. Intensive weekend trainings are often offered as well. The course is designed to help families determine what child they can best parent, and also serves as a self-screening function. It is designed to help you gain the best possible understanding of, and preparation for, parenting an adopted child. This training will include discussions about the children who are waiting to be adopted and what behaviors they might exhibit as well as information about resources and support available to you as an adoptive family.
Step 3: Begin the Homestudy
The homestudy is a process and a document that involves a series of interviews with an adoption social worker as well as the family’s submission of documents. The family’s social worker makes planned visits to the home to become better acquainted with the family members, the household and the community. The final result of the process is a narrative report on the prospective family and what they are seeking in a child or sibling group. This homestudy is shared with other social workers to find an appropriate match for a child and your family.
Step 4: Waiting for Your Child
Once your homestudy is completed and approved, your social worker will work with you to identify a child who is a good fit with your family. You can participate in this process by attending MARE adoption parties, reading the MARE Photolisting and watching for MARE media recruitment.
Step 5: Matching and Visitation
When a potential match is identified, a family meets with their worker and the child’s social worker at a disclosure meeting to discuss the child in more detail and become familiar with his/her history and current issues. If everyone agrees this looks like a good match, an initial meeting between the family and the child is arranged. If the initial meeting goes well, further visitation is arranged, including overnights, holidays, weekends, etc. The period of visitation varies from child to child, but typically lasts several weeks to several months.
Step 6: Becoming a Family
Following a successful visitation period, a child moves in with a family on a full-time basis. In Massachusetts, there is a waiting period of a minimum of six months before the adoption can be legalized. During this time the agency will conduct home visits to provide support and monitor how the placement is going. It is not unusual to wait at least a year from the time of placement until the adoption finalized in court and ratified by a judge.