Frequently asked questions about foster care and adoption in 2021

Cost, marital status and more answered

2021 marks the fifth year 10 News is doing this series, highlighting the need for children to be adopted in Virginia.

There are more than 5,000 children currently in foster care in Virginia. More than 600 of those children are ready for adoption right now and are looking for loving, safe families. The children are of all ages and races and were put into foster care due to no fault of their own.

10 News is partnering with the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) for 30 Days of Hope, shining a light on adoption and the children who need homes. 2021 marks the fifth year 10 News is doing this series.

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The following are frequently asked questions about foster care and adoption provided by VDSS:

Who can Adopt?

You can! You must be at least 18 years of age or older to be approved as an adoptive parent. Adoptive parents can be single, married, divorced or widowed but what is most important is that they have the time and energy to give a child a lifetime commitment. The Commonwealth of Virginia does not prevent a person from becoming an adoptive parent based solely on their culture, religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, or marital/civil union status. Check out this link for more information on who can Adopt!

How much does it cost?

Families who adopt from foster care usually adopt from a county, state, territory, or tribal public child welfare agency. Families adopting a child from foster care often receive adoption assistance and in most cases, there are few or no fees to finalize an adoption. Parents may choose to hire a private agency to help them through this process. These families will likely incur out-of-pocket expenses.

Do I have to be rich or have a large home?

No. The kids available for adoption through the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) need families who will love them, and provide structure and consistency. We look for families who have a belief in adoption and the ability to commit themselves to the love and care of a child; patience and perseverance; a good sense of humor; love of children; flexibility in dealing with change, stress, and challenges; tolerance and understanding; a willingness to learn; and resourcefulness.

Is there anything in my past that might prevent me from becoming an adoptive parent?

A felony conviction would be a barrier to adoption; however, there are some exceptions. You would need to discuss your specific situation with a family services staff member at your local department of social services.

I’m afraid I couldn’t afford special therapies for a child with special needs. Can I get help paying for that?

Most foster care children and youth adopted through the Department of Social Services qualify for adoption assistance — a monthly financial payment that helps adoptive parents pay for special services a child may need. All services are not covered at 100 percent. There may be out of pocket expenses once the child is a part of your family through adoption. Families are encouraged to use all forms of medical insurance to assist in covering medical or therapeutic expenses.

What do I need in order to adopt a child?

In order to adopt a foster child in Virginia, you will have to become a foster parent for a minimum of six months. You will have to attend foster parent training, complete a background check and complete a Mutual Family Assessment (home study). Please contact your local department of social services for more information.

Check out: this link to learn more about the home study process.

What is involved in a Mutual Family Assessment home study?

The home study process helps to prepare you to parent from foster care to adoption. Generally, it includes an orientation, training, and meetings with an adoption specialist. Through this process, you’ll work to identify the type of child you feel you can best parent. The home study process includes background checks for a history of serious criminal activity or child abuse, as well as a review of driving records, financial stability, and health status. This process typically takes three to six months, depending on how quickly meetings and trainings are completed. This process is always individualized and depends on a variety of factors. For more information on obtaining a home study please check out this link.

Will I be required to go through training?

All prospective foster parents are required to complete a pre-service training course. In certain instances, prospective foster parents must also complete adult/child/infant CPR and first aid training. Once foster parents are approved, they must complete additional training each year. This additional training schedule ensures that you will continue to be qualified to meet the special needs of foster children.

Do I have to be married?

No. You can be single, married, divorced or widowed. You can also be a same-sex couple to foster or adopt.

How long does it take to adopt?

The time it takes to adopt varies. The adoption home study process usually takes three to six months, depending on how quickly meetings and trainings are completed. After you have an approved adoption home study, your adoption specialist will work to match you with a child or children who are waiting for a permanent home. The length of time this takes depends on many factors.

If I’m a foster parent and want to adopt a foster child who is currently in my home, how long does it take to finalize the adoption?

It depends on how long your foster child has been in your home. If your child has been in your home for at least six months, then the adoption will be finalized in a shorter length of time than if your child is newly placed in your home.

Are there any services available after I adopt a child?

Yes, there are services available and in the community. Through adoption grants, children and families have access to adoption-competent support services that can be provided until children reach adulthood. If you have questions about foster care/adoption, please check out or contact 1-800-DO-ADOPT, the Virginia hotline.

To see all the 30 Days of Hope stories and children we are profiling, visit us here.

If you have questions about foster care/adoption, contact VDSS Division of Family Services, Juliet Baldwin, Adoption Recruitment Coordinator, at

About the Author

You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m. She also leads our monthly Solutionaries Series, where we highlight the creative thinkers and doers working to make the world a better place.

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