About the Children
Many people think “special needs” are medical, physical, or emotional disabilities. But within the foster care and child welfare systems, a child or youth with special needs has a factor or condition (uniquely defined by each state) that may involve any of the following:
Ethnic or racial background
Membership in a sibling group
Medical, physical, or emotional disabilities
Risk of physical, mental, or emotional disability based on birth family history
Any condition that may make the child harder to place in an adoptive home
Given the special needs status of these children, financial support may be available to adoptive families on behalf of the child.
Credit: North American Council on Adoptable Children, www.nacac.org
Applicant requirements are the same as for Domestic Infant Adoption. Because children coming from the foster care system often have special medical, behavioral and/or emotional needs, it is generally recommended that families with children in the home who are under the age of 5 years may not be appropriate for the waiting child program. Please call and talk with a staff member for more information about waiting child adoption.
Home Study and Adoption Fees
Application, home study and facilitation fees will be assessed for waiting child adoption program. Please refer to the current Statement of Fees. Placement fees are not assessed for waiting child adoptions; however a facilitation fee will be assessed to those applicants who receive placement. Financial assistance may be available to help you adopt a child. Waiting children are often eligible for medical assistance and, in some cases, a monthly subsidy to help you with the costs of parenting. In addition, the state placing the child may reimburse the adoptive family for their travel costs and legal fees. These benefits vary from state to state. Adoptive families of waiting children may be eligible for the Federal Adoption Tax Credit after finalization.
Characteristics of Successful Adoptive Parents
While we look for certain strengths and traits in all adoptive families, the adoption of older children who have been in foster care due to abuse and/or neglect requires different attitudes, skills and abilities than infant adoption.
Research has demonstrated that adults who possess the following attributes are more likely to successfully parent a child who has experienced the loss of family through abuse or neglect and through the finality of adoption by another family.
Ability to make a lifelong commitment to an older child who may have behavioral, emotional or educational challenges
Tolerance for value and cultural differences
Positivity regarding the child’s family of origin
Flexibility and adaptability, while providing structure for the child
A strong external support system
Patience and realistic expectations regarding the process of child attachment
Ability to celebrate incremental improvements
Ability to meet the child’s emotional and physical needs
While not required, previous parenting experience is an asset in Waiting Child adoption.
Preparation for Placement
Applicants applying to adopt children from public foster care (waiting child adoption) must complete the online waiting child adoption preparatory training and provide a certificate of completion to be maintained in their file. Online training must be completed by the time the home study is finalized and approved, prior to any placement of children in the home, and each applicant must complete the training and provide a certificate of completion. The 20-credit-hour training is web-based and addresses the following issues critical to adopting waiting children: grief and loss, effects and behaviors resulting from exposure to domestic violence, parenting abused and neglected children, parenting children across racial and cultural lines, and the sexual behaviors of traumatized children.
Adoption subsidies may be available for the benefit of most waiting children. Subsidies vary among agencies and may include ongoing medical assistance through Medicaid and possibly a monthly financial subsidy. In addition, many states will reimburse adoptive parents the legal expenses up to a certain amount, depending upon individual state guidelines. Adoptive parents may be eligible for the federal Adoption Tax Credit. Please contact your tax consultant or accountant for further information.
Finding the Right Match
Children are available throughout the United States for permanent adoptive placement. We work with surrounding states in an effort to find permanent homes for waiting children. Children become available for adoption for several reasons. The court may terminate parental rights due to repeated abuse or chronic neglect or endangerment. In these cases, children remain in foster care until an adoptive family is identified.
As an approved waiting child adoptive family, you will be able to send your home study directly through the various adoption exchanges in order to inquire on a child or children you believe might be a good match for your family. If the social worker responsible for identifying an appropriate adoptive family believes that you might be a good match, the social worker will contact the agency to arrange for the next step in the selection process. The social worker and agency having custody of the waiting child will make the final selection of the family for that child.
If the child is located outside Wyoming, you will travel to the state where the child lives to meet the child. This will give you the opportunity to meet the child’s foster parents, social worker, counselor, attorney, and other individuals significant in the child’s life. In some instances, travel expenses may be reimbursed by the state where the child resides.
The process of identifying a waiting child for adoption requires patience. Despite the number of available children, finding the right match takes time and placement cannot be guaranteed.
The Legal Process
You will need to hire a Wyoming attorney to represent you in court to finalize your adoption if your adopted child is from Wyoming. At least six months after initial placement, a court hearing will be held to finalize the adoption. In the period of time between placement and finalization we will supervise and support the placement of the child in your home. In some instances, your placement may be supervised by the public child welfare agency, and you may be asked to become certified as a foster parent prior to finalization. This requirement will vary from state to state, and we can help you connect with your local foster care agency for certification.
In some cases where the child is coming into Wyoming from another state, your adoption may be finalized in the sending state and the sending agency may have a staff attorney who will facilitate the finalization of the adoption on your behalf. All interstate placements are subject to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children: we will guide you through this process as well.
We do not offer waiting child adoption services in Colorado.
Find more valuable information about adopting waiting children at the internet links below as well as photos of waiting children.
The website for the Wyoming Department of Family Services with information about foster care and adoption.
The Adoption Exchange. Photo listings of waiting children in Colorado, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Utah.
The Northwest Adoption Exchange. Photolistings of waiting children in Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
This website is sponsored by the United States Children’s Bureau and features many waiting children as well as information regarding state-specific adoption requirements.
Adoption website addressing adoption-related questions.
North American Council on Adopted Children is an excellent resource for families considering adopting a waiting child.
http://www.adoptivefamilies.com – helpful resource for all adoptive families.
After Placement and Beyond
Post placement supervision will be provided by the Wyoming Children’s Society. The purpose of this service is to support the adoptive family with the transition following placement and in the adjustment of becoming an adoptive family. During this time any questions or concerns that may arise will be discussed. Wyoming Children’s Society mandates a minimum of three visits with the family that will allow the court information on how the transition is going for the child and family. During these first six months the child remains in legal custody of the Wyoming Children’s Society and physical custody is given to the adoptive family. The WCS will also provide ongoing support to the birthparents as they move forward with their lives post-placement.
Wyoming Children’s Society has worked since 1911 building families through adoption. We are committed to helping our birth parents and adoptive families for a lifetime. Once an adoption is finalized in court, Wyoming Children’s Society is available for support services at anytime the birthparent and the family would like support, information or guidance about the life-long process of adoption.