How Do I Adopt?
Step 1 - Contact Us
Please e-mail us through the designated interest form and/or if you reside in Maine, please contact your local Department of Health and Human Services office.
Step 2 - Informational Meeting
Once you have made contact with us and our staff have gone over the general requirements of our adoption program [such as minimum age, residency etc.] you will be invited to attend an informational meeting, with other families wishing to adopt. Our staff will:
- Explain the ages and characteristics of the children with special needs that we have for placement.
- Help your family to develop and clarify your expectations about your abilities to meet these special needs of our children.
- Discuss the eligibility standards of our agency.
- Talk about the stages of the adoptive and foster care process and reasonable times for completing these stages.
Step 3 - Adoptive and Foster Family Training
You will then be invited to attend our Adoptive and Foster Family Training, which consists of 24 hours of preparatory training for parenting children with special needs. This is done in eight weekly sessions, lasting three hours each, or over four consecutive Saturdays. The sessions include the grief and loss process, how children come into care, working as a team to meet the needs of a child, how to cope with challenging behaviors in children and many other core issues in foster and adoptive care. These classes are taught by experienced adoptive and foster parents.
Step 4 - Family Study
You and your family will be asked to write autobiographies and participate in a series of interviews with a social worker. These interviews allow you and the social worker the opportunity to discuss your family's history and functioning, including your strengths and challenges, and how that may play out by adopting a child with special needs.
Step 5 - Matching and Placement
After you have completed the training and study process, and are approved as meeting our agency standards, you will given a regular photo-listing of children available for adoption in Maine and matched according to the child's needs and your ability to meet those needs. Our focus is on finding families for children.
Once the match is made between a child[ren] and your family, a complete presentation of the child's history and needs is made. Then a negotiation process is done to provide adoption assistance to your family, dependent on the needs of the child[ren] and the circumstances of your family. This is followed by a "visitation" time which can last from several days to several weeks, depending on the needs of the individual child/family.
Step 6 - Post-Placement
Once a child[ren] are placed in your home full-time, you will have regular home visits to help "fine-tune" the adjustment issues. These visits will continue at least 6 months, until the agency can recommend the adoption be legalized in court. You may choose an attorney to represent you in court. After the adoption hearing in probate court, you will then have sole legal responsibility for your child.
Step 7 - Post-Legalization Adoption Services
We believe that adoption is a lifelong process. All adopting families experience normal "developmental" crisis in their lifetimes. DHHS provides an Adoption Assistance Program and through this subsidy, and medical insurance through Medicaid, many services are able to be accessed and funded. Our caseworkers are available to provide consultation and referral for services. This includes post-legalization parent support groups.