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""Whether you have struggled to have a child or always planned to adopt, choosing to adopt is an incredible gift for your family and a child in need.

Many of the children waiting to be adopted in Massachusetts have experienced loss and hardship, and just need a chance to thrive in a loving, stable home.

To find out more about becoming an adoptive parent, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) provides a step-by-step guide to adoption in Massachusetts. Many of the steps are the same to become a foster parent — you can read our foster care blog to learn more about that option.

Who Can Adopt in Massachusetts?

If you live in Massachusetts and are at least 18 years old, you may be able to adopt. DCF doesn’t have a set income requirement, but they will work with you during the adoption process to figure out if you would be able to provide for a child.

How Do I Apply to Adopt?

Adopting a child in Massachusetts is a big commitment for any family, but DCF is available to provide information and support during the adoption process and beyond. Before applying to adopt, you have to go through a few pre-screening steps:

  • Make the Call — The first step is to call (800) KIDS-508 and talk to DCF. This call lets DCF know you’d like to adopt and gives you a chance to ask any questions you have about adoption in Massachusetts.
  • Submit an Interest Form — After the call, the next step is to submit an application. DCF can mail one to you, or you can have a social worker bring one to your home and help you fill it out.
  • Pass a Background Check Once you submit the application, DCF will do a background check of everyone over the age of 15 in your home.
  • Pass an Adoptive Home Safety Check A social worker will visit your residence to check that it’s safe for a child and that there is enough space for a new family member. If they have any concerns when they visit, you will have time to address them before another visit.

Once your family has passed the prescreening process, the next step is training.

What Happens After I Apply to Adopt?

After you hand in your application, a DCF family resource worker will help set you up for a Massachusetts Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) training program. MAPP classes cover topics like what needs your adopted child may have and how adoption can affect your family, plus education in general parenting areas like communication and discipline.

MAPP classes are offered at certain DCF offices and private family agencies across the state. The schedule for MAPP classes depends on where you take them, but many locations break the program up into a three-hour evening class once a week for several weeks.

After you complete the program, a social worker from MAPP will visit your home several times to get to know you and your family. The social worker will also ask for and check your personal references.

They’ll write a license study that describes your family and any characteristics that might make a child an especially good fit for your home, including personality, background, and emotional or physical needs.

What Happens After I’m Approved?

Once your license study is approved, DCF will work to figure out if you and your family are the right fit for a child (or children) in their care.

There is no set time between when you are approved to adopt and when you’ll be contacted about a child. The age group you’re interested in could affect how long the process takes. Most of the children waiting for adoption are between 6 and 12 years old or sibling groups.

If you have questions about the adoption process, contact DCF by email or call (800) KIDS-508, and check out their adoption resources online. You can also go to a free informational meeting about adoption and foster care. These meetings are an hour or two long, and are usually held once a month at locations across Massachusetts.

The next adoption post will cover the placement process, from when DCF finds a child who could become your new family member to the time it takes to legalize an adoption in court.

Do you have experience with adoption? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below or tweeting us @MassGov. Stay tuned for Adopting in Massachusetts: The Placement Process.

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