Frequently Asked Questions

Why do children come into foster care?
Children come into care because of abuse, neglect or dependency. Sometimes illness prevents parents from caring for their children. They may be struggling with drug or alcohol addiction or mental illness. Often children come from stressful situations where they have been abused physically, emotionally and/or sexually. They may have been exposed to domestic violence. When the county Department of Social Services finds that a child cannot be cared for by their birth family or that the child is in danger, 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?
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. Many times, current pre-approved adoptive families already known to the county agency 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, we will use our database to match the children with potential families who are currently registered with NC Kids. This is a rare occurrence and families interested in adopting a younger child should contact a licensed private child placing agency that specializes in infant/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, you can contact us toll-free at 1-877-625-4371. Please tell us 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 good potential match for the child or sibling group. If so, more information can be provided to them about the child and, if they wish, their home study can be forwarded to the child’s agency. For families who don’t already have a Pre-Placement Assessment, we can assist you in getting started with a referral to a licensed child-placing agency.

How do I register with NC Kids so my family may potentially be matched with waiting children?
Families who would like to be registered with NC Kids and participate in our internal matching process can complete the NC Kids Family Registration Form and submit a current, signed copy of their 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 others 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 looking for. There is no set time frame as the process is child-focused. Once a child is placed, 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, this means that their plan is 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 waiting 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 private 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 agencies, your Pre-Placement Assessment and training may not be transferable. 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 cannot make appropriate placement decisions. Making adoptive and foster care placement decisions cannot be made from a piece of paper. These decisions are based on the strengths and needs of each family the strengths and needs of each child. Your previous Pre-Placement Assessment may be included as part of the new assessment.

Why do children go on hold and then become available again?
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.). Sometimes children are placed on hold while the agency reviews the home studies of all interested families or if the child is experiencing a crisis or period of instability. 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 NC Kids or your local Department of Social Services to find out how to:

Be a mentor for youth

  • Contact your local DSS about becoming a respite provider for foster or adoptive parents
  • Serve as a Guardian ad Litem (GAL)
  • Consider participating in your local Big Brother/Big Sister program
  • Be a political advocate for children in foster care
  • Raise funds for a local foster or adoptive family support group
  • Volunteer for group care facilities
  • Encourage your employer to offer adoption benefits
  • Sponsor a “recruitment” party at your home or business and invite friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members. Encourage them to become foster or adoptive parents.

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 Confidential Intermediary process. Information about this process is located at