Knowing some of the things that may prevent you from becoming a foster parent in Massachusetts saves you time and disappointment before you apply.
Foster to Adopt in Massachusetts: A Complete Guide
Fostering to adopt in Massachusetts is an excellent option for those who want to help a child in need and create their forever family.
The primary goal of foster care is to reunite children in care with their biological parents.
For many children in Massachusetts, this ends up happening as planned. For one reason or another, their parents decided that they needed time to heal themselves before they could take on the responsibility of caring for their child.
However, there are many cases where a child in care cannot return to their biological parents.
That’s where fostering to adopt comes in.
If you’re looking to permanently adopt a child in care, we can help. Below is our complete guide on how to foster to adopt in MA. But first, let’s talk about why this is one of the better ways to adopt a child if you’re interested in becoming an adoptive parent.
Why Adopt From Foster Care In Massachusetts?
When considering adoption, many parents weigh various options, searching for a path that resonates with their finances and the kind of family life they’re looking for.
In this context, adopting from foster care in Massachusetts is an impactful and accessible choice.
Making a Meaningful Difference
Children in foster care often come from backgrounds of uncertainty and instability.
- By choosing to adopt a child from foster care, you are providing a permanent and loving home, something every child deserves.
- This act of kindness and commitment can have an amazing impact on the life of a child, offering them the nurturing space they need to thrive.
- Foster parents who adopt have likely already formed emotionally stable bonds with a child in care, which means more stability for the child as well.
One of the biggest reasons why adopting from foster care in Massachusetts is a viable option for parents is the cost factor.
- Unlike other adoption routes that can be expensive, adopting from the state’s foster care system is generally free.
- The average cost of a traditional domestic adoption in MA is just over $40,000, while international adoptions can be over $42,000.
- Adopting a child in care as a foster parent opens doors for many families who might think that adoption isn’t an option for them due to the cost.
- It's a relief to know that starting or expanding a family through adoption doesn’t have to be a financial hardship.
Beyond the reduction in costs to adopt, there are even some additional forms of support you may qualify for as a foster-to-adopt parent.
Diverse and Inclusive Opportunities
Foster care in Massachusetts includes children from diverse age groups, backgrounds, and with different needs.
- This diversity means that prospective parents have the opportunity to find a child or sibling group that they can connect with, regardless of the specific dynamics they are looking to add to their family.
Legal and Emotional Security
When you adopt a child in care in Massachusetts, the process ends with the legal solidification of your new family, providing both legal and emotional security.
- Adoptive parents receive full parental rights, and children gain the permanence of a forever family.
- This legal certainty is comforting for both the child and the parents, sealing the bond between them!
Building Stronger Communities
By adopting from foster care, you’re not just changing a child’s life; you’re contributing to the strength of your community.
- Children who grow up in stable, loving homes are more likely to become productive, well-adjusted adults.
- In 2021, 36% of children in care in MA were between 12 and 17 years of age — so your decision to foster and adopt can dramatically change adult outcomes for these kids.
- Children who “age out” of foster care are more likely to experience living without stable housing or hinder their entry for college when they become legal adults.
- Your decision to adopt can make a difference for a child in care and your community as a whole.
The Foster to Adopt Process in Massachusetts
Once you’ve become a licensed foster parent and have decided that you’d like to adopt, you may be wondering how to get started.
- Some of the steps in the process apply only to individuals looking to adopt directly from foster care without already being a foster parent.
- These steps look pretty similar to what you went through during your licensing process to become a foster parent.
- Some of these steps still apply to you — even if you are already fostering a child in care that you’d like to adopt.
Here’s how the process typically works in the state of Massachusetts.
Initial Consultation and Choosing an Organization
- The journey to adopt a child from foster care in Massachusetts begins with an initial consultation.
- Prospective adoptive parents explore the process, understand the requirements, and receive help with the next steps. Following this, they select a licensing organization, which plays an important role in guiding them through the process.
In Massachusetts, foster parents will either contact the DCF (Department of Children and Families) directly or contact a partner organization that works with the DCF.
Application and Home Study
The prospective parents then complete an application with their chosen organization. This application helps answer questions about the family’s background, lifestyle, and reasons for adopting.
The Home Study Process
Following the application, you’ll need to take part in a home study to ensure the environment is safe and suitable for a child — just like you did when you became a foster parent.
The goal is to check if your home is a good and safe place for a child — every family who wants to adopt goes through this process, whether they are already a foster parent or not.
First, there are interviews and background checks to learn about you and your family. Then, social workers visit your home to see if it's safe for a child in care. After these steps, your caseworker writes a report with details like:
- Your job and education
- Your family background
- Your social life and friendships
- Your experience with parenting, if any
- Information about your home and neighborhood
- References and background checks
This might feel like a lot, but it's all to make sure the child gets a great home with the right parents. For foster parents who have already experienced this process before when working towards their license, this process may feel familiar. In some ways, you’ll be more prepared because you’ve seen this before!
An essential part of the process is the preservice sessions you’ll need — in Massachusetts, this is known as the MAPP (Massachusetts Approach to Partnership in Parenting)
This program gives adoptive parents the knowledge to care for a child who may have experienced trauma, neglect, or abuse. As a foster parent looking to adopt, you’ll have received MAPP training as part of your licensing process. Now that you’re interested in adoption, you’ll need to complete additional training preparing you for this new stage of parenting.
Child Matching and Visitation
The matching phase involves identifying a child or sibling group whose needs align with the abilities of the adoptive family. This matching process applies to families who are adopting a waiting child directly from care without having fostered that child first.
Once a potential match is made, the family spends time with the child or children through visits. This step is important — it gives adoptive parents and a child in care the chance to start building a relationship!
For foster parents who are already caring for a child, you know that the goal of most care plans is to reunite a child with their family first. However, when reunification is not possible, foster parents are also often given priority when it comes to the adoption of a child already in their care.
During the placement phase, the family receives support and guidance to help integrate the child into their home. This support is crucial in ensuring a smooth transition for both the child and the family.
Legalization of Adoption
Finally, the adoption is legalized, which involves a court process that grants full parental rights to the adoptive parents.
This legal step solidifies the child's place in the new family, providing both security and permanence. It’s best to contact an attorney in Massachusetts to get the details on how this process works.
Learn More About Fostering to Adopt in our Upcoming Webinar
Looking for more information about foster care in Massachusetts? If so, our upcoming webinar can give you the answers.
By attending a Foster Parent Information Session Webinar and learning more about the fostering process, you can take the first step toward becoming a foster parent and providing a safe, loving, and supportive home for a child in need.
Mentor Foster Care has offices all over Massachusetts, including:
Sign up for our webinar today, or call our local office to get started!