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Adoption Questions and Answers

  1. What is adoption?

    Adoption is a legal process which permanently gives parental rights to adoptive parents. Adoption means taking a child into your home as a permanent family member. It means caring for and guiding children through their growing years and giving them the love and understanding they need to develop their full potential.

  2. What type of children need adoptive homes?

    Children available through the Larimer County Department of Human Services are generally older and have some sort of special needs, while private agencies continue to place infants for adoption.

  3. What are the special needs of children available for adoption through the Larimer County Department of Human Services?

    Special needs include one or more of the following:

    • Older -- mostly age 6 through 18
    • Physical, mental, or emotional disabilities or problems
    • Minority race
    • Siblings who need to be placed together
    • Children for whom the plan is adoption, but who are not legally free to be adopted and who need foster parents who will commit to adopting them in the future
  4. Why do these children need families?

    The best place for most children to grow up is in their birth families. When a family is having problems, services are made available to help them grow and change to enable appropriate parenting. If the family still cannot function and it becomes necessary to meet the child's needs in another way one option might be adoption. In order for the child to be adopted, either a court termination of parental rights or a parental relinquishment of rights must occur.

  5. What does adoption cost?

    If a family adopts a child in the custody of the Department of Human Services, a fee is not required. Unless the cost of finalization is approved under subsidized adoption, the family is responsible for locating and paying its own attorney to file the adoption petition, and have the adoption decree issued. The adoptive family is expected to assume full financial responsibility for the child during the adoptive placement, unless the family and agency agree to another arrangement before placement.

    Most private agencies have fee scales established to cover agency costs, for example, salaries of staff. Others rely on donations.

  6. How long does it take to adopt?

    It is not possible to tell any approved family how long it will be before a placement occurs -- or even if it will occur. Not every family is right for every child. When a child that needs a family is available, a careful "match" is done, based on the child's individual characteristics and needs. The focal point of an adoptive placement must be meeting the needs of the child. The time from the placement until the decree must be at least six months. If the child has special needs, the need for agency supervision might extend that time.

  7. Can single parents adopt?

    Yes, single men and women can also adopt. In fact, approximately one-fourth of the children adopted from the public foster care system are adopted by single individuals.

  8. If I want to adopt, will the wait be shorter if I become a foster parent?

    Foster parenting should not be approached as a backdoor to adoption. Foster care placements are made with the intent that they will be short term, usually with the goal of returning the child to the parents. Generally, foster parents have to be willing and able to work with the birth parents. Most likely the child will have regular visits with his or her parent.

    Larimer County Human Services is committed to seeking placement sources from the child's relatives and extended family. Foster parenting may involve helping relatives learn to parent a child and help transition the child into the relative's home. If the plan for return to the birth parents becomes impossible, the foster family is often the adoptive family of choice in order to keep attachments intact and avoid moving the child unnecessarily. However, it is important to keep in mind that of the children in and out of foster care in Larimer County last year, only 4% of those became available for adoption.

  9. How many children are available for adoption?

    At any given time, the number of available and waiting children varies, as children move in and out of the system. Perhaps the best indicator is the statistics of past adoptions.

  10. If so many children are waiting, why is it so hard to get a child?

    There are many children waiting who require special care and consideration of their past experiences and their physical, emotional, or behavioral needs. Many families who desire adoption are not waiting for the children who are available. Even families who want a challenging child cannot be guaranteed a placement, because not every family can meet every child's individual needs.