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Adoption Assistance

Families who adopt a child from the foster system may be eligible for Adoption Assistance from the state. Adoption Assistance is a monthly stipend that is paid to the adoptive family to assist with the care and maintenance of the adoptive child, through that child’s 18th birthday (and in certain circumstances, through his or her 21st birthday).

While statutes vary from state to state, most states provide Adoption Assistance to families when they adopt a child who (1) has a physical or mental disability, (2) is a member of a sibling group that is placed together, or (3) is a member of a racial or ethnic minority group. Additionally, many states provide Adoption Assistance to any child over a certain age. For example, in Pennsylvania, any child over the age of 5 years old qualifies for Adoption Assistance. Importantly, Adoption Assistance is not dependent on the adoptive family’s income. Moreover, Adoption Assistance is not taxable income.

Many states also reimburse families for reasonable and necessary costs that are directly related to the legal adoption of a child, including home study fees, court costs, attorney fees, and travel (when necessary to complete the placement). This is typically a one-time payment, with the amount limited by the state.

Depending on your state of residence, other forms of assistance may also be available to an adoptive family for the care of the adoptive child, including:

• Payment of adoptive child’s health insurance through the age of 18 (and 21 in certain circumstances);• Payment of special services for children with documented exceptional needs;• Daycare and after-school care subsidy;• Post adoption counseling and support;• State and Federal tax credits.

The Adoption Assistance that is provided to a child is memorialized in an Adoption Assistance Agreement. These agreements should clearly state that they will remain active at least until a youth is 18. For youth with mental, physical, or behavioral special needs or other special circumstances, Adoption Assistance Agreements should be extended with state, federal or other funding until a youth reaches his or her 21st birthday. Finally, the Adoption Center advocates that Adoption Assistance Agreements be reviewed and adjusted over time to realistically reflect and meet the child's needs. This includes ensuring that the Adoption Assistance Agreements contain language that allows the family to obtain Adoption Assistance even when a child's special needs have not been determined before the adoption is finalized, but develop later.

The Adoption Center firmly believes that children and youth adopted from foster care should be eligible for at least the same level of support and benefits (including any therapeutic or specialized rates) they would have received in family foster care.

Approved by the Board of Directors - March 2019


Adoption Workplace Benefits

The Adoption Center believes that employers should address the needs of all employees who are building a family, whether through birth or adoption, by offering an equitable benefits policy. The costs of adopting, as well as the need for bonding and adjustment with a new child, parallel the experience of those who give birth. In addition, completing an adoption is often time-consuming and emotionally taxing, and can impinge on work time and productivity.

Both Federal and State policies already provide certain employee benefits independent of an employer provided benefit. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care or to care for the newly placed child. To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must: (1) have been employed by the Company for at least 12 months (which need not be consecutive); and (2) have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately preceding the commencement of the leave; and FMLA Policy Rev. 01/01/2018 (3) work at a worksite (a) with 50 or more employees; or (b) where 50 or more employees are located within 75 miles of the worksite.

Many states also have a version of the FMLA. For instance, employees who work in New Jersey are also entitled to certain leave benefits under the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA). In addition, New Jersey has Family Leave Insurance that provides paid leave for up to six (6) weeks for qualifying applicants. While Pennsylvania does not have its own laws requiring employers to grant employees time off for the adoption of a child, employers within the state with more than 50 employees are required to follow the federal FMLA guidelines. Many employers have already implemented adoption benefits policies that go well beyond FMLA.

Our recommended best practice for adoption workplace benefits contains the following components:


This position statement has been developed as a means of communicating a "best practices" model and will be available to the media and to employers requesting information about the establishment of an adoption benefits plan.

Approved by the Board of Directors - March, 2019


Social Media Statement

The Adoption Center believes that social media—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and others--are welcome and evolving methods of communication.  We also believe that the impact of social media on adoption is significant and, along with its benefits, raise issues of safety and privacy.   The Adoption Center recommends that best practice include the following considerations:


Case managers should educate youth in their caseload about responsible use of social media, highlighting the unique needs of those in foster care. The pitfalls of online communication could include:  privacy violations, misunderstandings and vulnerability to messages that may include bullying or harassing content. Youth should be encouraged to share with his/her case worker the way she or he is using social media and alert the worker about any questionable messages received. It should be emphasized that the case worker needs to work with the youth about any contact he or she wants to initiate, for example, with birth parents or prospective adopters. The case manager should make every effort to keep open the lines of communication about the use of social media.


 Those prospective adopters seeking infants are served best when they work with a licensed adoption agency. Although it is tempting to use social media to spread the word, those wishing to adopt must be aware of scams and bogus promises.  We encourage that prospective adopters seeking an infant placement use common sense and check with a credentialed adoption organization or parent support group as they proceed. 
Those prospective adopters seeking adoption from foster care should be aware that many youth in foster care have access to social media, including Facebook.   If a prospective adopter is contacted through social media by a youth whom they may have met a match event or through their adoption agency, the family should contact the youth’s case manager for guidance.   
Adoptive parents should be aware that youth who are adopted may use social media to search for their birth parents. The Adoption Center believes that parents should support their children who feel the need to learn more about their history and who want to be connected with their birth parents, siblings or extended birth family, as long as safety or the emotional stability of the youth is not an issue.   We believe that when a youth who is adopted is supported by his parents, he will be less likely to search alone.  
 Adoption Agencies should inform, prepare and educate adoptive families about the potential for birth parent contact through social media.    When possible, a post placement specialist should be designated to assist the adoptive family with this contact.    
 Maintaining a supportive and stable home life is the goal of all adults involved in adoption. Most birth parents respect the role of the adoptive parent; however, there are instances when boundaries may get blurred and behaviors become potentially damaging to the child who has been adopted. It benefits the child when birth parents recognize that, depending on circumstances and the child’s age, connections with him or her may produce unexpected  outcomes and emotional stress.  It is helpful before contact is initiated that birth parents determine the kind of relationship that is desirable and possible. Caseworkers and other professionals are available to help discuss this issue with the birth parents and work on what’s best for all involved.
It is in the best interest of the child or youth when adoptive parents, caseworkers and birth parents agree to the timing and frequency of the contact and the type of information shared. Counseling can assist the youth who may be struggling with the need to learn more about his/her birth parents and the desire to initiate contact.

This statement has been developed as a means of communicating a “best practices” model.  Because of advancements in social media, the Adoption Center recommends that social media statements/policies be reviewed and revised annually to reflect the integrity of the adoption process and the needs of the adoption community.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2013


Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) Policy

The Adoption Center believes that all children/youth in foster care deserve the opportunity for a permanent relationship with a family before aging out of the foster care system at the age of 18 or 21. After achieving safety, the Center urges that permanency must be the focus of child welfare agencies and professionals, to assure that children/youth can grow up in lasting relationships that offer love and stability, and that meet their psychological, social, emotional, educational, and physical health needs.

Toward that end, child welfare agencies and professionals should exhaust every effort to find an adoptive family for all children/youth who do not have a permanent family resource, regardless of their age. The goal of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) should have limited use with the following taken into consideration when assigning this goal:

Approved by the Board of Directors - September 20, 2011


Subsidized Guardianship Policy

The Adoption Center believes that adoption is the best option for children whose birthparents cannot take care of them; however, it recognizes that in cases where adoption is not possible, legal guardianship is a viable alternative.

Permanent legal guardians have full responsibility for the children in their care, making decisions about such issues as medical care, educational needs, out-of-state vacations and sleep-overs with friends without having to report to caseworkers and the courts. This results in a substantial savings of time and money. In those cases, where the guardian often a relative -- has agreed to provide a safe, loving home for a child, the Center believes that subsidies should be provided. Subsidized guardianship programs allow children to be free of the constraints of foster care and live a life that more closely mirrors that of children being raised by their birth parents. Specifically the Center believes that foster children and youth placed in permanent legal guardianships should:

Approved by the Board of Directors - December 16, 2009


Match Party Policy

The Adoption Center believes that match parties are one of the most effective methods of finding families for waiting children. The face-to-face interaction of families and children often breaks down the preconceived beliefs families may have about adopting children from foster care. However, because the children attending match parties are vulnerable, providing an enjoyable, safe experience for them must also be a priority.

To achieve this goal, the Center believes the following components are necessary:

It is essential that advocates for the children and families follow up on potential matches resulting from the event. This will make the most of the opportunities generated by the match party for finding adoptive homes for children.

Approved by the Board of Directors - December 16, 2009


Race and Adoption

The Adoption Center believes that every child should have a permanent and loving family. The longer a child remains without a parent (s), the more damaging it is to his or her identity, self-esteem and chances of growing into productive adulthood. It is our goal to find a loving home for each child as quickly as possible.

The Center does not discriminate because of race or ethnicity when considering adoption opportunities for children. In compliance with the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act, effective October 1995, the Center does not delay or deny to any person the opportunity to become an adoptive parent solely on the basis of their race, color or national origin.

The Center actively engages in the recruitment of families of color that fit the diverse culture of waiting children. If a transracial placement occurs, agencies should be required to provide additional support to preserve children's racial and cultural connections.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2008


Sibling Adoption

The Adoption Center believes that siblings play an important role in the healthy development of children. Sibling relationships influence a child's ability to develop basic skills and promote socialization. Because of the unique lifelong nature of the sibling relationship and the pain experienced by children deprived of their siblings, the Adoption Center actively recruits families for small and large sibling groups and encourages agencies which seek to separate siblings to consider other alternatives.

In cases when siblings must be separated because it is in their best interests, Center staff encourages families to maintain significant, ongoing contact among the children involved. Finally, we advocate strongly for sibling placements and speak out when inappropriate separations are planned.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2008


Child Descriptions Policy

The Adoption Center believes that a well-written child description is critical in finding a permanent family for a waiting child or sibling group. Its purpose is to "introduce" the child to potential adopters. Therefore, it is the policy of the Adoption Center that a description of a waiting child should always:

In addition, the Center believes it is important to consider that a child description is intended for the general public and is not intended to replace an in-depth presentation about the child to a selected, potential adoptive family.

This policy statement applies to all types of child specific recruitment including the Internet, photo listing books, flyers and other print media.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2008


Adoptive Parent Homestudies

The Adoption Center believes that families who are interested in adopting U.S. waiting children are a valuable resource. When all agencies from across the country share access to their approved families, everyone benefits -- the waiting children, the families and agencies.

The Center believes that a family is entitled to receive a copy of its completed homestudy promptly. Further, an agency must release an approved homestudy either to the family or to another agency that requests it.

While individual states may have a standard for how long a homestudy is valid, the Adoption Center recommends a homestudy should be considered valid in any jurisdiction for a minimum of one year.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2008


Adoptive Parent Assessments

We believe that every child has the right to a loving, nurturing and permanent family.

Therefore, it is the policy of the Adoption Center that no person should be denied consideration in the adoption process solely based on marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, physical appearance, race, gender, age, religion and/or size of family.

Approved by the Board of Directors – April, 2017


Post Adoption

The Adoption Center believes that society benefits from intact families, including those created through adoption. While all families experience stress, families who have adopted, particularly those who have adopted children with known special needs, often have additional issues for which they need help. Services that address these needs may include, but not be limited to:

The Adoption Center believes that the availability and accessibility of post-adoption services are vital to adoptive family preservation and advocates that all adoptive families be informed of post-adoption services.

The Center further believes that states and adoption agencies should be required to develop and provide post-placement support services to families. To that end, all efforts should be made to ensure that existing funding streams are utilized by states to the fullest extent possible and, if necessary, that funding be increased in order to help meet the need.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2008


Adoption and Geography

For many children, an adoptive home cannot be located in their own county or state, and recruitment efforts must include a nationwide search for a permanent family. The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 recognizes the importance of going beyond geographic boundaries to place a child and prohibits denying or delaying a child's adoptive placement when an approved family is available outside of the child's jurisdiction.

The Adoption Center supports this law and will actively advocate for all public and private agencies to comply with the act. It is the policy of the Adoption Center that no individual or family should be denied the right to adopt a child because they do not reside within the jurisdiction of the child.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2008


Open Records

The Adoption Center believes that it is an inalienable right of all citizens, including adopted adults, to have unencumbered access to their original birth certificates. In keeping with this position, we believe that copies of both the original and the amended birth certificate should be given to the adoptive family at the time of finalization unless specifically denied by the birthparents. In any case, the Adoption Center advocates that the adoptee, at age 18, be granted access to his/her original birth certificate.

The Adoption Center also supports an adult adoptee's unencumbered access to all medical and historical records.* These records should be given to adopting families prior to finalization.

Approved by the Board of Directors - June 15, 2000

*Historical records refer to that information acquired about the child before coming into his/her final adoption placement. Such information includes, but is not limited to, foster care placements, childhood photos, information about siblings, number of moves before adoption, reason for entering foster care, details of school history and related school documents and any early history of development which may include pertinent medical records.


Adoption by Members of the LGBTQ Community

All prospective foster and adoptive parents should be given fair and equal consideration to provide foster care and to adopt a child who needs a permanent loving home. The Adoption Center opposes any federal or state legislation as well as foster care and adoption agency policies that restrict or dismiss the consideration of current or prospective foster and adoptive parents based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

Revised and Approved by the Board of Directors - June, 2021


Adoption and the Schools

The Adoption Center believes that school culture is a microcosm of the community and therefore schools have the opportunity to recognize the diverse configuration of families, including families formed through adoption, by ensuring that family diversity is reflected in their curriculum and educational materials. Furthermore, it is important that educators recognize that there may be added developmental challenges, both academic and emotional, that affect children who are adopted and that adoption affects families over generations. Specifically, the Center recommends that schools:

Approved by the Board of Directors - March 18, 2004


Use of Adoptive Exchanges

The Adoption Center believes that all U.S. children available to be adopted and needing a new placement should be visible to social workers and families from around the country. The Adoption and Safe Families Act, passed in November of 1997, supports this belief. It states that "case plans for children must document the steps an agency is taking to find a permanent family for a child, including child specific recruitment efforts such as the use of state, regional and national exchanges, including electronic exchange systems." In order to carry out this mandate, the Center believes, therefore, that all waiting U.S. children should be listed on all appropriate state, regional and national exchanges. In addition, families who have been approved to adopt by a licensed agency should be involved actively in searching for a child that would be a suitable "match" for them and also should be registered on all appropriate state, regional and national exchanges.

Approved by Board of Directors - December 1998