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How does a potential parent adopt a child in California?

According to a 2013 federal government report, more than 100,000 children in the United States are currently eligible to be adopted. How many of these kids are in California is not known, but many live in foster homes. Some children have lost both parents, some have been removed by court order from abusive homes and some are given up by mothers for a variety of personal reasons. Wherever and whenever possible, the state's Department of Social Services places these children into homes with the goal of permanent adoption.

The California Kids Connection program was recently established to match potential foster parents with adoptable children using the Internet. Licensed adoption agencies use a secure website that is also accessible to users who want information on suitable children. A caseworker with a state or county agency informs the prospective adoptive parents of any specific challenges or disabilities a child might have. Parents can then contact CDSS to talk with a representative about the process.

An orientation program will provide more information on the adoption process to foster parents. If the parents are still interested, they go through a state-required family assessment process that includes a complete review of the parents' employment, medical and criminal histories. Finally, a family's domestic environment is evaluated to make sure it is suitable. The assessment is designed to be a collaborative effort between the adoptive parents and the adoption agency. The ultimate objective is to provide a safe environment for the adopted kids.

The age groups of children available for adoption varies widely by county. Parents who are most interested in adopting infants must wait longer. Foster parents must pay a $500 application fee that can be waived under certain conditions. Other costs related to adoption -- including medical exams and fingerprinting -- can run between $100 and $300.

Source: California Department of Social Services, "Adoption FAQs," accessed on March 8, 2015

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