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Every year in Massachusetts hundreds of children leave foster care via adoption into loving homes. Deciding whether to adopt can be a difficult decision, but it is often a very rewarding one for both you and the child.

Becoming an adoptive parent is a big responsibility, one that requires patience, understanding, and support. For those that are interested, there are free informational meetings held across Massachusetts. These meetings help potential individuals or families decide if they feel ready to become an adoptive parent or foster care family. Support and guidance is offered for individuals or families through the Department of Children and Families (DCF) throughout the process, and there are also subsidies and grants available to help adoptive children and their families.

Children who are awaiting adoption range in age from birth to 18 years, and come from all ethnic, linguistic, and economic backgrounds. Children that are adopted or taken into foster care benefit greatly from the love and support of a family.

6 Steps in the Adoption Process

1. By working with DCF, potential adoptive parents will choose an agency. It is recommended that prospective parents talk to more than one agency and attend informational meetings at a number of agencies before making the final choice.

2. Once an agency is chosen, prospective adoptive parents will be invited to attend Massachusetts Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) — a training and preparation course held one night per week for ten weeks. The course is designed to help families determine what child they can best parent, and also serves as a self-screening function.

3. After an agency is chosen, the home study begins. This is a process that involves background checks on every household member over the age of 14, a series of interviews with a social worker, and a physical standards check on your home to verify that it is suitable for the adoptive child.

4. Once the home study is completed and approved, a social worker will work with prospective adoptive parents to identify a child who is a good fit with your family.

5. When a potential match is identified, a family meets with their social worker and the child’s social worker to discuss the child in more detail and become familiar with his or her history. Once everybody agrees that a good match has been made, an initial meeting between the family and the child is coordinated. If the initial meeting goes well, further visitation is arranged, including overnights, holidays, and weekends.

6. Following a successful visitation period, the child moves in with the family on a full-time basis. The visitation period varies from child to child, but typically lasts several weeks or months. There is a waiting period of six months before the adoption can be legalized in Massachusetts. During this time, home visits will be conducted by the social workers to provide support and monitor how the placement is going.

If you feel adoption is right for your family, talk to others who have adopted and educate yourself. Most of all, prepare to have your life enriched in ways you never thought possible.

Are you an adoptive parent, or a member of a family created through adoption? Share your experience or how your life has been affected by adoption in the comment section below or by tweeting us @MassGov!

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