Frequently Asked Questions Why do children come into foster care? Children come into foster care because of abuse, neglect or dependency. Abuse, neglect, and dependency are caused by a variety of factors ranging from a parent’s illness to drug addiction, domestic violence or mental health concerns. Some children come from stressful situations where they have been abused physically, emotionally and or sexually. When the county Department of Social Services finds that a child cannot be cared for safely by their birth family they obtain permission from the court to take the child into custody and place them in foster care. Why are infants or very young children not featured on the website of children legally free for adoption? Infants and toddlers in foster care are often placed with relatives or adopted by their foster parents if they are not able to be returned to their parents. Often pre-approved adoptive families are submitted to the child’s adoption committee for consideration and the public recruitment process isn’t needed. When NC Kids is notified of a child under age five in need of an adoptive family a database matches the children with potential families who are registered with NC Kids. This is a rare occurrence and families interested in adopting a younger child should consider whether they would be open to fostering as well as adopting or contact a licensed private child placing agency that specializes in infant and toddler adoption. What if I see a child on the website that I am interested in adopting? If you are interested in a child you see on our website contact us toll free at 1-877-625-4371. Please provide the child’s name and identification number which is listed in their profile. Families with an approved Pre-Placement Assessment (adoption home study) will be screened to determine if they are a potential match for the child or sibling group. If so, more information can be provided to their agency about the child and their home study can be forwarded to the child’s agency for matching consideration. For families who don’t already have a Pre-Placement Assessment, we can assist you with a referral to an agency that works with foster and adoptive parents. How do I register with NC Kids so my family may potentially be matched with waiting children? To register with NC Kids and participate in our internal matching process please complete the NC Kids Family Registration Form and submit a current, signed copy of the Pre-Placement Assessment. Registering with NC Kids is optional and not necessary if you prefer to search for a child on your own. Being registered does not guarantee that you will be matched but allows us to contact you when a child becomes available who could be a potential fit for your family. How long does it take to adopt a child from foster care? There are many variables to consider in how long it will take to complete an adoption. Once you have selected the agency you would like to work with, it may take between three to six months to complete the home study process and any agency related training. Once your Pre-Placement Assessment is complete, there are other factors that will influence how long it might take to be matched with a child, including the type of family the agency is seeking and the type of child your family is seeking to adopt. There is no set time frame as the process is child focused. Once a child is placed in your home for adoption the process of finalizing the adoption typically takes six months or longer. Why are siblings sometimes separated? Siblings are placed together whenever possible. However, sometimes it is in the best interest of the children to be separated based on their individual special needs. When appropriate efforts are made by agencies to continue sibling visits after their adoptions. If children are listed together as a sibling group on the website it means that they plan to be placed in the same adoptive family and they cannot be separated. What information will I be given about the child before adoption? Once you have a Pre-Placement Assessment, NC Kids representatives can provide you with additional information on any children you are interested in. Social service agencies are required to disclose all non-identifying information available about the child to prospective adoptive parents prior to the placement. This information can include medical and mental health evaluations, reasons the child came into care, information about the birth family and any other details that will help the adoptive family parent the child effectively. We encourage you to ask questions and to have any information that you do not understand clarified. How much does it cost to adopt? The cost of adopting a child with special needs from the foster care system is covered by the child’s agency. Most county social services agencies complete the Pre-Placement Assessment free of charge if the family is adopting a special needs child from the North Carolina foster care system. Some refer families to private agencies for completion of the Pre-Placement Assessment. There may or may not be a charge for this service. Please contact the agencies in your area to discuss any fees and related adoption expenses they may assess. Am I entitled to a copy of my Pre-Placement Assessment? Yes, under North Carolina law (General Statute 48-3-305, Agency disposition of Pre-Placement Assessments), you are entitled to a copy of your Pre-Placement Assessment. Your agency will keep a copy of your completed or incomplete Pre-Placement Assessment for at least five years. What if I want to change agencies? If you move or decide to change adoption or foster care agencies, your foster care license and or Pre-Placement Assessment and training may not be automatically transferable. There is a process to transfer a foster care license from one agency to another and is dependent upon mutual agreement and assessment by the two agencies. Since the assessment process is intended as a way for you to get to know the agency and the agency to get to know you, without going through a similar process, a new agency may not be able to make appropriate placement decisions. For adoptive families your new agency is likely to include your previous Pre-Placement Assessment as part of the new assessment. As adoptive families are approved by individual agencies, the new agency will likely re-assess your home and family before approving a new PPA through their agency. Why do children featured on the NC Kids and Adopt US Kids websites go on hold and then become available again? Sometimes children are placed on hold while the agency reviews the home studies of interested families or if the child is experiencing a crisis or period of instability. They become available again if none of the submitted families is chosen as the adoptive placement. Although agency workers do their very best to make placement decisions that will be best for the child and the family, sometimes adoptions don’t work and the child becomes available for adoption again. This kind of disruption can be very traumatic for the child and for the family. Sometimes a disruption can happen because of unexpected family issues (illness, divorce, etc.). Placement decisions are always made with the child’s entire history and their best interest in mind. What if I want to help but I am not able to be a foster or adoptive parent at this time? If you are unable to foster or adopt there are other ways you might be able to help children. Contact your local Department of Social Services or a private foster care or adoption agency in your community to find out how to: • Serve as a court advocate for children in foster care through the NC Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program. • Be a mentor for youth in the community. • Consider participating in your local Big Brother or Big Sister program. • Raise funds for a local foster or adoptive family support group or agency. • Participate in school supply or needed items drives and holiday programs held for children in foster care at your local County DSS. • Encourage your employer to offer adoption benefits. • Help a County DSS or private agency recruit foster and adoptive families. I was adopted in North Carolina and I’m looking for information about my birth family. Where should I start? You will need to go through the process of requesting your non-identifying information or the Confidential Intermediary process to potentially gain identifying adoption. Information about this process can be found here.