If your family is considering expanding via adoption it is important to know that there are several different ways in which a child can be adopted in Mississippi. Understanding the various avenues of adoption available to you can be challenging, therefore, it is a good idea to sit down with a local family law attorney to discuss your options. One important option to discuss is the possibility of adopting a child via the foster care system.
Foster care is a government sponsored system through which families, or single adults, care for minor children who are not able to live with their biological parents or legal guardians. Some children are placed in the foster care system for a limited period of time and are eventually reunited with their biological families, however, other foster kids will not be reunited with their original parents and eventually become “free for adoption”. According to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, there are more than 415,000 American children currently living in the foster care system, approximately 108,000 of whom are eligible for adoption.
How to Adopt a Foster Child
The Mississippi Department of Human Services’ website is a great resource for families contemplating adoption in Mississippi and explains the basic steps involved in adopting a foster child. These steps are outlined below.
Step 1: Learn About the Adoption Process
Learning as much as you can about the adoption process at the outset can help minimize surprises along the way. Contact the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) at (800) 821-9157 and ask for information about adopting a foster child. MDHS will explain that a foster child must live with a family for at least six months before their adoption will be legalized, will outline the requirements for adopting, and provide you with other important information about the adoption process.
Step 2: Apply to Adopt a Foster Child
After deciding that you would like to adopt a foster child the next step is to submit an application to be a “resource family”. Your application will be evaluated to ensure that you meet the following requirements for adopting:
- Applicants must be legally single persons or legally married couples,
- Applicants must be at least 21 years old,
- Applicants must have income and insurance sufficient to provide for an adopted child, and
- Applicants must meet the emotional, intellectual, and psychological standards needed to be good parents.
Step 3: Training Sessions
After your application has been approved you will be invited to attend five weekly training sessions. These sessions are designed to prepare prospective adoptive parents for welcoming a child into their home, explaining adoption to the child, and generally making the transition as peaceful as possible.
Step 4: Home Study
Next, you will have several interviews with a social worker. During this home study period your social worker will determine if your family is ready to adopt a child and will work with you to determine what type of child would best fit into your family.
Step 5: Placement
During this step of the process you and the child that you are planning to adopt will visit together. These visits will be short at first and will gradually be extended. When everyone is ready, the child will move into your home.
Step 6: Post Placement
After the child moves into your home your social worker will continue to visit in order to assist with the adjustment process. These visits will continue for at least six months. After six months have passed, the social worker can recommend that the court finalize the adoption.
Need Legal Advice?
If you live in Mississippi and have questions about the legal process involved in adopting a child, contact the family law attorneys of Derek L. Hall, PC today. Our adoption attorneys would be happy to discuss your legal options with you and help guide you through every step of the adoption process. Our Jackson office can be reached at (601) 768-7454.