1: Things to Consider
Questions to Ask Yourself

Thinking about adoption is the beginning of the process. Below is a list of questions to help prepare yourself.

  • Do I want to adopt a boy or girl?

  • What age of child am I looking for?

  • Am I interested in adopting a sibling group?

  • Would I consider adopting a sibling group in order to get the age of child I am interested in?

  • Would I be willing to have on-going contact open communication with a child's birth parents?

  • Could I parent a child who may have been sexually abused, physically abused and/or neglected?

  • Could I parent a child that has an on-going medical issue, may be developmentally delayed, or diagnosed with a developmental disability?

  • Could I parent a child who may have been exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero?

  • Does the ethnicity of the child I adopt matter?

  • How does my extended family feel about adoption?

  • If I did adopt a child of a different ethnicity than myself how would my family feel?

  • How am I going to handle adoption-related questions that my child may ask?

  • How does my extended family feel about adoption?

  • If I did adopt a child of a different ethnicity than myself how would my family feel?

  • How am I going to handle adoption-related questions that my child may ask?

2: Costs

Many people who consider adoption are concerned with the financial costs associated with the adoption process and the many services which
children with special needs may require. The costs of adopting a child from the public foster care system through A Place Called Hope are typically
kept to a bare minimum and may be eligible for reimbursement. Incurred costs are generally limited to: Attorney fees, post placement report, post
placement services and adoption home studies.

Domestic Adoption Post placement fees shall be determined upon a sliding fee scale , determined by applicant’s resources and abilities to pay.  
Applicants will be assisted in applying for adoption support, military reimbursement (if applicable) and advised of the adoption tax credit.
Additionally, families will be encouraged to check into employer benefits, and given names of foundations that provide low-interest loans.

APCH standard fees are:

Domestic Adoption:
Application fee & Family Preparation          $750.00 (due at application)
Home study (Pre-Placement Report)          $1500.00
Post Placement Report                                  $ 500.00
Home study updates                                      $ 500.00
Post Placement Services                              
 $ 550.00 (after placement and before finalization)
Total                                                                  $3,800.00

Foster to adopt:
For individuals who foster with the intent to eventually adopt a child placed in their home we depend on the reimbursements from the state for
supervising the home to cover most of the adoption costs. APCH will expect the $1,500 Home Study fee to be paid at the time of adoption (the fee
is normally reimbursed by the state). The remaining $2,300 of adoption service fees will be forgiven at the rate of $100 per month that a foster child
is in your home (after 23 month of fostering there will not be any additional adoption fees beyond the Home Study fee.)

A Place Called Hope is committed to helping children find forever families. We will do everything possible to help adoptive parents find financial
resources. Following are some of the resources available to provide families with financial assistance:

Adoption Subsidy
Families adopting special needs children through the public welfare system may qualify for adoption subsidy, a negotiated monthly cash payment
provided to adoptive families to help pay for some of the expense involved in raising a child with special needs. See Adoption Support Program.

Non-Recurring Adoption Expense Reimbursement
Before finalizing the adoption of a child with special needs from the public child welfare system, families may apply for reimbursement of adoption
costs. Maximum reimbursable costs are $1500.00 per child. See Adoption Support Program.

All children participating in the Adoption Support Program are eligible to receive medical and dental services through Medicaid.

Federal Tax Credit
You may be able to take a tax credit of up to $10,160 for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child. The adoption credit is an amount that
you subtract from your tax liability.

To find information about tax rules and changes to those rules, you can link to the
Internal Revenue Website for information about the IRS
AdoptionTaxpayer Identification Number, and for Publication 968 on the Adoption Tax Credit and Tax Exclusion.

Employer Benefits
Many employers provide a range of benefits for families who adopt (including paid or unpaid leave when a child arrives in the home,
reimbursement of some portion of adoption expenses, assistance with adoption information and referral services, etc.). Corporate human
resource departments will provide employees with information if benefits are available.

3: Contacting A Place Called Hope for Adoptions
There are a couple of ways to receive further information about adoption from A Place Called Hope:

  • Contact the Licensor at A Place Called Hope and they will help you set up orientation and Caregiver Core Training. (253) 857-5447
    or (800) 291-9095.

  • You may also contact your local DCFS Office.  A worker can answer questions, send out an information packet, and provide information on
    adoption procedures for their office.  Sign up for pre-service training courses through your local office. You are required to have 30 hours of
    training to learn about adoption and foster issues. Once training is complete, you will be assigned a social worker.

4: Adoptive Home Study
All prospective adoptive parents must undergo an adoptive home study. The purpose of the adoptive home study is to evaluate whether parents
are qualified to adopt. The process involves education and preparation as well as the gathering of information about the prospective parents.
There seems to be a lot of things to do in this process but it is designed to insure that children receive the best possible homes. A Place Called
Hope will help you step by step through the process.

An adoptive home study includes:

  • Application. Provided by the agency.

  • Preparation classes. You are required to take 30 hours of Pre-service Training (and a First Aid/CPR and Blood Born Pathogens course to
    become a licensed foster parent). The Licenser from A Place Called Hope can help you find trainings.

  • Criminal history background check. Organized through your licenser, and must be completed on every person over the age of 16 residing
    in the home.

  • Child abuse and criminal clearances. This is part of the criminal history background check and will be organized through your APCH
    Licenser and the DLR Regional Licenser.

  • Personal information. There is a DSHS form (Unified Home Study Guide) used to help your licenser with information about you. There is
    no right or wrong answer; this is just a way for the APCH licenser to get to know you.

Following is a general outline of what to expect, but your licensor will provide you with more detailed questions:

  •    Background                                                                                         

  •    Family Facts (birth place, parents, etc)

  •    Education

  •    Employment history/military service

  •    Values, goals, interests, and activities

  •    Cultural background

  •    Relationships

  •    Spouse/partner

  •    Children

  •    Others living with you

  •    Experience with Children

The detailed list of questions can be found on-line under UNIFIED HOME STUDY GUIDE at: http://www1.dshs.wa.gov/msa/forms/eforms.html

  • Medical statements on persons adopting.
    This is a confidential form that your physician will fill out regarding current and historic medical conditions. Your adoption worker will
    provide you with the form.

  • Income/financial statements.
    A worksheet is provided to you by your social worker that will ask for information on the following topics:

  •    Employment

  •    Income

  •    Home

  •    Vehicle

  •    Bank accounts

  •    Assets

  • References. 4 references (only 1 can be a relative). References are generally used to get a picture of a family from an outsider. A
    questionnaire asking specific questions must be filled out by your references. Your social worker will send the questionnaire directly to
    your references.

  • Contacts with Licenser. At least 4 contacts will be made with your licensor and one must be in the family home to better understand your
    lifestyle and family dynamics. Issues discussed (per RCW 26.33.190) at these visits will include:

  •    The concept of adoption as a lifelong developmental process and commitment
  •    The potential for the child to have feelings of identity confusion and loss regarding separation from the birth parents
  •    Disclosure of the fact of adoption to the child
  •    The child's possible questions about birth parents and relatives
  •    The relevance of the child's racial, ethnic, and cultural heritage

Home Study Approval
The home study has to be approved to continue with the adoption process. The length of time from the last contact with the Licenser to approving
the home study varies, but the agency goal is to have it completed within 90 days.

Washington Adoption Resource Exchange (WARE)
Once the home study is approved, A Place Called Hope will register you with the Washington Adoption Resource Exchange (WARE). If you don't
already have a child in your home, this service will enable other social workers to see that there is a family with an approved home study waiting
for a child.

5.  Legal Procedures:

Applicants need to find their own attorney who is licensed in the area they live and qualified to do adoption work.  A portion of the attorney’s fees
may be eligible for adoption support reimbursement.  The attorney will be responsible for the decree and findings of fact, setting court dates and
notifying parties.  A Place Called Hope will send the attorney a packet, and the attorney will do the filing.  Applicants are advised to consult with their
attorneys regarding adoption support agreements, and any issues that may affect their rights. If you do not have an attorney we would be happy to
provide you with the names of some attorneys who we know have done


Adoption – Step By Step (Adapted from Answering the Call, Family Pocket Guide)

Step I – First Contact
This is where you, the prospective parent, make a phone call or talk to an agency recruiter to obtain information on the process.

Step II – Initial Orientation
Meeting where you will be given a good basic understanding of:

  • Who the children are who need care.
  • The role and responsibilities of foster/adopt parents.
  • The process you will need to go through.
  • The next steps you will have to take on the journey.

This may be part of the first Foster and/or Adoptive Parent Training class (referred to as PRIDE).
The Orientation is available online at:
http://www1.dshs.wa.gov/ca/fosterparents/preservice.asp.  There are four modules.

You may click on the links below for the orientation.

Welcome to the Child Welfare System | with Captions

Foster Home Inspection | with Captions

Child Abuse Reporting | with Captions

Families for Kids | with Captions

During this time you may hear some real challenges of foster/adopt; don’t be afraid to ask questions and be prepared to open your heart and mind
to what is being said. You don’t have to make any major decisions right now

Step III – Foster and/or Adoptive Parent Training
This is a free 30-hour training program and the sessions are designed to prepare you for fostering/adopting. During these classes make a
commitment to actively participate and give careful consideration to the information presented; come prepared to ask questions; and gain
knowledge of what type of child you can best parent.

During this step you may start the application process by picking an agency to work with and obtaining a licensing packet. In addition, you will need
first aid, CPR, and HIV/Aids training that should be of no charge to you – contact the trainer of the 30-hour course for a referral.

Step IV – Application Process
This is where prospective foster/adoptive parents complete the application and you and your assigned representative from the agency of your
choosing go over it carefully. Each application will contain a brief family history, personal references, background checks for anyone over 16 yrs.
old, verifications of the different training completions, any medical records that are pertinent, etc., and a check list for preparing your house for a
home study.

Ask for help from your agency or assigned foster parent recruiter if you have questions here are anywhere throughout the seven steps.

  • Be open and honest in filling out the application.
  • Supply the necessary information completely and accurately and as fast as possible.
  • Cooperate with the criminal background check and protective service checks. Discuss any concerns you feel may surface with your
    licensor in advance.
  • Ask for help, if you don’t understand something. It’s better to take a little longer to fill out the application correctly.
  • Agree to maintain confidentiality about the child, his/her birth family; and to provide nurturing, safe, and affectionate care for the child.

Step V – Mutual Assessment and Homestudy (see section on Adoptive Home Study above)
This is the time that the agency licensor meets with you in your home to talk about your personal history, family relationships, reasons for wanting
to foster/adopt, and the supports you have available to you. They will determine whether you home is safe and has sufficient space. This step is to
help you and the agency make the best possible decisions about placement and to determine the characteristics of the children whom you want to
parent. Ensure that all necessary information is supplied completely and accurately. You make an appointment with the agency to have a
homestudy done, so don’t feel pressured to schedule one if you need to make improvements on your house first.

Step VI – Licensing and/or Approval
This is a time of waiting for you. You may be waiting for the background check to be returned, personal references to submit there requested
information, an upcoming homestudy, or the completion by the agency of their written homestudy assessment. All of these items take time and it
may be frustrating at times to wait. Use the time for further reading or networking with other foster/adoptive parents (contact your local FPAWS
group, Foster Parent Recruiter, or ask your Licensing Agency for referrals). Keep in contact with your licensor and ask to review a copy of your
homestudy so you can correct any inaccuracies

Step VII – Placement
Congratulations, you’ve been approved and are ready to proceed to the next step in this journey – Placement. This is where the agency and you
work to assure the right match between yourself and a particular child’s or sibling group’s needs. Licensed pre-adoptive parents have the
responsibility to the child, the child’s birth parents, and the sponsoring agency to:

  • Make sure you have the necessary information to make an informed decision about placement.
  • Provide a safe, nurturing, stable environment for the child. Provide humane and affectionate care.
  • Assure that religious training appropriate to the child’s denomination be respected.
  • Assure that the emotional, medical, dental, and educational needs of the child are met.
  • Report any changes related to the child’s care and/or your family’s composition to your family social worker.
  • Promote physical, emotional, social, and intellectual growth and development of each child.
  • Maintain confidentiality.
  • Cooperate with the agency/department, especially in treatment planning for the child.
  • Respect the feelings of the child for the birth family.
  • Support the child’s visiting plan with birth parents (if you choose an open adoption), siblings or others, when applicable.
  • Once a child or sibling group has been placed with you a new journey begins. We encourage you to continue your learning by attending
    additional training and working with other resource parents and your social work team.

Special Terms for Adoptions

The following boxes list some terms adoptive parents need to be familiar with. Understanding these terms is important in ensuring that adoptions
proceed smoothly and that adoptive parents receive all the assistance available to them.

There are over 1,000 adoptions of children in custody of Washington State's Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), with more
children still awaiting adoptive homes. The purpose of the adoption program is to meet the permanency needs of children who are in the
care and custody of DSHS. A Place Called Hope strives to find safe and stable families that can best meet the needs of the child.
  •     Discipline

  •     Experience and training

  •     Family rules/activities

  •     Religious affiliation and practices

  •     Medical/psychosocial

  •     General medical

  •     Abuse history

  •     Domestic violence

  •     Drug/alcohol

  •     Home and neighborhood

  •     Support systems
  • Credit card debt

  • Child support

  • Loans

  • Insurance

  • Paid leave
Open Communication
Open communication agreements allow contact between the adoptive parents and birth parents. In some instances there is also contact allowed
between birth parents and the adopted child. The frequency of contact is negotiated and communication may include letters, e-mails, telephone
calls, or visits.  It is important to note that even in an open adoption, the legal relationship between a birth parent and child is severed. The adoptive
parents are the legal parents of an adopted child.

The goals of open adoption are:

  • To minimize the child's loss of relationships.
  • To maintain and celebrate the adopted child's connections with all the important people in his or her life.
  • To allow the child to resolve losses with truth, rather than the fantasy adopted children often create when no information or contact with  their
    birth family is available.
Special Needs Children

To be considered a child with "special needs" each of the following statements must be true:

1.  One or more of the following factors or conditions must exist:

  •  The child is of an minority ethnic background.
  •  The child is six years of age or older at the time of application for adoption support.
  •  The child is a member of a sibling group of three or more or of a sibling group in which one or more siblings meet the definition of special
  •  The child is diagnosed with a physical, mental, developmental, cognitive or emotional disability.
  •  The child is at risk for a diagnosis of a physical, mental, developmental, cognitive, or emotional disability due to prenatal exposure to toxins,
    a history of serious abuse or neglect, or genetic history.

2. The state has determined that the child cannot or should not be returned to parent's home; and

3. A reasonable but unsuccessful effort was made to place the child for adoption without adoption support. (Other unique conditions may exist in
which a child would qualify. Almost every child in the state's Foster Care program qualifies for Adoption Support).
Adoption Support Program

The Adoption Support Program assists families adopting special needs children by providing ongoing financial and medical benefits to qualified children
based on state and federal regulations.

To qualify for Adoption Support, DSHS must have made the determination that adoption is in the child's best interest.

The child must:
  •        Be less than 18 years of age when DSHS and the adoptive parent sign the Adoption Support agreement.
  •        Be legally free (birth parents rights have been terminated).
  •        Have special needs.
  •        Be in state funded foster care (or eligible for and likely to be placed in foster care) OR be eligible for federally funded adoption assistance.