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""Adopting in Massachusetts is a wonderful way to provide a loving and stable family for a child who needs one.

If you’ve already been approved to adopt a child in Massachusetts — see the last adoption blog post on how to apply — you may have questions about adoption, like when you will meet the new addition to your family.

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) has information to help you through every step of the adoption process, including what to expect between when you are approved to adopt a child, when you welcome a new family member to your home, and when the adoption becomes legal.

What Happens When DCF Matches a Child to My Family?

After you are approved to adopt, DCF will work with your family to identify possible matches. There is no set time to how long this search will take, but when one is found, they will guide you through a few steps:

  • DCF will contact you and provide some general information about the child, like their age, gender, and specific needs they may have.
  • If you decide to move ahead with the adoption, you can attend a meeting with DCF to learn more about the child, including their full medical history and their current family and living situation.
  • Depending on the situation, you may have the chance to talk to the child’s foster parent, teachers, or professionals who interact with them regularly.

At this point, DCF will ask you to take a few days to think about everything and whether your family can provide the right home for this child.

When Do I Meet the Child?

If you decide to proceed with adoption process after these initial meetings, the next step is to set up regular planned visits with the child. Each transition plan is different, based on what is best for the child.

  • Initial Visits — The first time you meet the child may be at their foster home or another place that’s familiar to the child. You’ll have several visits as you and the child get to know each other.
  • Additional Outings — If the first few visits go well, you can plan visits outside of the home, like going out for a meal or to a local park.
  • At Your Home — When you and the child are both comfortable, you can schedule visits at your home.

Once you’ve gotten to know each other and are both ready, the child will be placed in your home as a new member of your family.

When Can I Legally Adopt the Child?

In most cases, you can legally adopt the child after they have lived with your family for at least six months, but adopting through DCF can take more than a year. This is partly so your family can adjust and make sure you have all the support you need.

Bringing together a growing family and a child can take time, but the bond you’ll share will last a lifetime. Whether you’re just beginning to look into the adoption process in Massachusetts or you’ve already applied, DCF is on hand to support you.

Have questions about the adoption process in Massachusetts? Leave a comment below or tweet us @MassGov, and share this article with friends or family members who want to adopt.

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