Below is a step-by step look at the process of adopting a child from Rhode Island state care. For additional insight into the process, listen to Adoption RI’s Shannon Doherty, Adoption Permanency Coordinator, as she talks about the process…
STEP ONE Attend an adoption information meeting.
Held once a month, these meetings feature presenters from Adoption Rhode Island and the Department of Children, Youth, and Families. Presenters will explain the adoption process in more detail and you will learn about the children who are waiting to be adopted. There will also be plenty of opportunity to ask questions. Applications to start the adoption process are available at the meeting if you decide you are interested.
Information meetings are held monthly on Tuesday or Wednesday nights. The meetings are free. Because of the sensitive subjects discussed in the meetings, they are not appropriate for children to attend. Meetings are held at our office at Two Bradford Street in Providence as well as in the North Kingston area for South County residents.
STEP TWO Enroll in a home study/adoption preparation class. These classes meet once a week from 8 to 10 weeks. They are designed to prepare you to parent a child who has been in state care, help you decide what kind of child will best fit into your family, and help the home finder get to know you better so she/he can make a good match between family and child. Enrollment opportunities and further information about where and when classes are held will be available at the Information Meeting.
STEP THREE Meet with an adoption home finder (a social worker who will write the home study) in your home. A home study by a licensed social worker is a prerequisite for any adoption. The social worker will get to know you better, answer your questions, and begin to discuss the type of child you believe will be the best fit for your family. This will not be a white glove test of your housekeeping skills!
STEP FOUR Complete a home study.
After finishing the classes, the home finder may meet with you one or more times to collect homework and other paperwork from you. The social worker will then write your home study, a 12 to 15 page document describing your family, your lifestyle, and the kind of child or children you hope to parent. This home study will be registered at Adoption Rhode Island and used to help match your family with a waiting child or children.
ARI can only accept home studies which are forwarded by the family’s adoption worker or agency. We are unable to register a home study sent directly from the family.
STEP FIVE Wait for a match.
Copies of your home study will be mailed to DCYF caseworkers who work with the type of child you are seeking. The caseworker selects the family who she/he believes can best meet the child’s needs. This waiting period can last from a few weeks to a year or two, depending on how flexible you are about the type of child you are willing to consider.
STEP SIX Learn about the child or children for whom you are being considered.
When a caseworker decides that you may be a good match for a child or sibling group, she/he will meet with you to present background information on the child or children (medical history, educational records, professional assessments, and other information). You will have the opportunity to ask questions, speak with people who work or live with the child (foster parents, teachers, group home staff, therapists, and others), and decide whether you believe the match is a good one.
STEP SEVEN Meet the child and begin visits.
If you decide to proceed with the match, you will meet the child or children and begin a series of visits. These visits will last just a few hours at first and build up to overnight and weekend stays. On placement day, the child will officially move into your home.
STEP EIGHT Finalize the adoption.
After the child has lived with you for at least six months, you will go to Family Court and legally adopt the child or children. She/he will then be given your last name, and you will have full parental rights and responsibilities as if the child were yours by birth.