Envisioning your family

Keep an open mind, learn about the children in foster care, and research financial and other supports available

Keeping an open mind, researching financial support available, and understanding what is entailed in adopting outside of your state are just a few important elements of envisioning your family.

Things to think about


Keeping an open mind


Do you have a vision of the characteristics of a child who would thrive in your family? You might be surprised to know that many adoptive parents tell us that the child they adopted was completely different from the one they set out to find. As one adoptive mother said about her son: “He was everything we never knew  we wanted when we first envisioned our family. Had we not kept an open mind, we never would have found him.”

On adoptuskids.org and other sites, caseworkers provide details about the children’s strengths, challenges, potential ongoing needs, and kinds of support  needed to respond to their needs. We encourage you to keep an open mind when entering criteria into a child search and reviewing the children’s stories. Don’t hesitate to ask caseworkers and others about their history and future needs. Your adopted child might not be the one you set out to find.

Meet the children photolisted on the AdoptUSKids website.

Financial support available

Children who qualify for adoption subsidies are referred to as having “special needs.” A child with special needs should not be confused with a child who requires special education or other remedial services.  

Following broad federal guidelines and parameters, each state determines which factors or conditions would qualify a child as having special needs. These factors or conditions can include:

  • Being an older child
  • Having a particular racial or ethnic background
  • Being part of a sibling group needing to be placed together as one unit
  • Having medical conditions
  • Having physical, mental, or emotional disabilities

If you’re interested in adopting a child with special needs, ongoing monthly subsidies may be available to help with expenses after the adoption. Be sure to ask the child’s caseworker if adoption subsidies are available.

Adopting siblings

Approximately two-thirds of children in foster care in the United States have a sibling in care. Many of these children will be separated from their siblings. A common reason given for these separations is that workers could not find a permanent placement for all of the children.

Research suggests that siblings placed together experience lower risk of failed placements, fewer moves, and many emotional benefits. Siblings placed together often feel more secure and are able to help each other adjust to their new family and community.

Read more about adopting siblings.


Adopting older children

Each year more than 20,000 children age out of the foster care system without the encouragement and consistency that a permanent family provides. Read more about adopting older children.

To an older child in foster care, waiting for an adoptive family can feel like waiting for a miracle. You could be that miracle.

Older children talk about the hope of being adopted.

Adopting children of a different race or ethnicity


White, black, and Hispanic (of any race) children comprise the majority of children in foster care. Black children are overrepresented, currently accounting for 24 percent of children in care. Hispanic children account for 22 percent of children in care, according to recent data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) report.

Native American children, comprising only 1 percent of the children in foster care, are subject to a unique set of rules and cultural considerations related to their out-of-home placement.

You can read about things to consider when adopting a child of another race on our website. Also find a comprehensive list of resources for transracial and transcultural families at the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.


Adopting outside of your state


There are more than 122,000 children in US foster care available for adoption. Families adopt children from outside their state every single month. Sometimes these adoptions can take a little longer because of the process involved with moving a child from one state to another. However, the wait is worth it in the end.

Not all adoption agencies will work with families who want to consider adopting children from outside their home state, so it’s important to ask your agency about this when you first make contact with them.

If you’re considering adopting outside your state, you may find it helpful to review the resources we have compiled for professionals about understanding interstate adoptions and our publications and webinars about making interjurisdictional placements.

We’re here to help you with your questions about these kinds of placements; just contact us.

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