CTFosterAdopt Manual - Chapter 3

Adoption disruptions
Adoption finalizations
Adoption is a legal procedure
All children have the right to permanent life long connections
Considering the adoption of a foster child already in your care
Financial considerations
Helping your foster child move on to a permanent home
Information for a prospective adoptive family
Legal risk placements
Life Books
Open adoption agreements
Post placement support
Permanency Planning Teams (PPT's)
Registration of an adoptive family resource


All Children Have the Right to Permanent Life Long Connections:  Adoption is one method that provides that for children.  Adoption establishes a legal relationship of parent and child between persons who are not so related.  The decision to identify an adoptive resource for a child is the result of many assessments and reviews that consider the needs of the child and the prospective family’s capacity to meet the needs of that child. 

Licensed parents are often identified as the adoptive resource for children in need of a permanent placement.  This chapter will provide you with information on various issues related to the life changing decision to become a “forever family” for a child.


The Department of Children and Families’ initial consideration is to return children to their birth families, including extended family when available.  However, in some cases, relative resources are not available, and despite ongoing efforts, it is determined that it is not in the best interest of a child to return home.  In these cases, the Department has a responsibility to identify a permanent family for that child.   The identification of such a family is done through a review of the child’s case record, gaining an understanding of the needs of the child, and identifying a family best equipped to meet those needs.   Regional offices may work together with the Office of Foster and Adoption Services to identify potential adoptive resources for children in need. 

Adoption is a Legal Procedure:    A child cannot be adopted until the court has determined that it is in the best interest of the child that their birth parents’ parental rights be terminated, otherwise referred to as a Termination of Parental Rights (TPR).  This legal finding “frees” a child for adoption.

A Termination of Parental Rights is the legal severing of ties between a child and their birth family.  Given the significant nature of such an event, the Department must present evidence to the court that all reasonable efforts to reunite the child with his/her family have failed and further demonstrate that a TPR is in the child’s best interests.  The process of terminating parental rights often takes months and even years depending on the specific case. 


"Legal Risk" Placements:  A legal risk home is defined as one licensed for adoption, but provides foster care for a child who is not legally free for adoption.  If reunification with the birth family is not in the child's best interest, it is crucial that a timely plan for adoption be considered. To avoid multiple placements, a decision to place in a "legal risk home" should be considered as soon as it is determined that a Termination of Parental Rights Petition will be filed. The following are varying levels of legal risk:

  • Family will consider providing foster care for a child they would ultimately hope to adopt if legal freeing is obtained
  • TPR petition is filed in court but hearing is contested and series of continuances are expected
  • Child is legally free for adoption but termination has been appealed or the judgment is not yet final.
  • Voluntary relinquishment is the plan but termination has not been decreed in court.

Transracial / Transcultural Adoptions:  There are many types of adoptions. When families of one race/ethnicity and culture adopt a child unlike themselves, it is called a transracial/transcultural adoption.  The Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) and the Interethnic Placement Act prohibit agencies from discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin of the child or prospective adoptive parent.  MEPA also clearly states that agencies must make diligent efforts to recruit families who are reflective of children who wait for adoption. 

It is important that prospective adoptive families reflect on the aspects and impact of a transracial/transcultural adoption. The more aware that a inter-racial/inter-cultural adoptive parent becomes the better able they will be to raise their son/daughter in a society where racial issues still exist.  The following are resources available to learn more about this

important topic:

    Permanency Planning Team (PPT):  Final selection of a prospective adoptive home will be made through the process of shared decision making involving a PPT.  The Permanency Planning Team is made up of staff from each regional office, including: managers, supervisors, social workers, FASU staff, a community provider and a foster or adoptive parent.  The child’s social worker will submit a packet to team members for their review prior to meeting. This packet will contain information related to the child’s history, needs, and current status, together with the home studies of potential families. 


    Each team member records a vote for each family being considered, identifying the family that appears to best meet the child’s needs. If any family has been identified as a prospective placement resource on six different occasions, but has not been selected for any child, OFAS staff will review the study and communicate concerns to the families licensing worker for revisions or further clarification.


    If a foster parent is interested in adopting a foster child in their care, the foster home study will be considered by the team if the following conditions apply:

    • The child has been in continuous placement with the foster family for one year or more; or

    • The child has been in non-continuous placement with the foster family for total of two or more years of actual placement.

    Financial Considerations:  Many families who adopt children through DCF receive a subsidy from the state.  The Subsidized Adoption Program, established by Connecticut General Statutes, was created to provide a means to facilitate the adoption of special needs children, achieving permanency for more children and reducing the number of children in foster care.


    Adoption subsidies provide financial and/or medical assistance to parents who have adopted a special needs child.  The child is the primary focus in the determination of the adoption assistance payment.  


    A “special needs” child is defined as a child who:

    • has a physical or mental disability

    • has serious emotional maladjustment

    • has a recognized high risk of physical or mental disability

    • is over the age of eight (8) which presents a barrier to adoption

    • is over the age of two (2) and has racial or ethnic factors which present a barrier to adoption

    • is a member of a sibling group which should be place together

    • has been certified as a special needs child by the Department

    Considering the Adoption of a Foster Child already in your care:  When considering the foster child’s future make arrangements to talk with the child’s social worker about the permanency plan.   If you are thinking about adopting a foster child whom you are providing care and whose permanent plan is adoption, there are several issues to consider:

    •  Is each family member in favor of adopting?

    • Why do you want to adopt this child?

    •  Are you willing to live through the hard times as well as the good times?

    • Do you know all that you need to know about the child’s background?

    • Can you accept the child’s unknown background and/or life long issues?

    • What kind of relationship are you willing to have with the child’s birth family? (if deemed appropriate)

    • Are you supportive of the child’s ethnic/racial heritage and cultural identity?

    • Discuss with the child’s social worker the role you would like to have in your foster child’s future.  In addition speak to other foster parents, who have adopted.

     In addition to the questions listed above for the family’s deliberation, DCF considers a number of factors as it assesses a potential foster family for adoption.  Among these are:

    • The length of time the child has lived with the foster family in the context of the child’s age and development

    • The child’s emotional attachment to the foster family and the family’s attachment to the child

    • Whether the child sees him/herself as part of the family and wants to be adopted by them

    • The number of previous moves a child has had and his/her capacity to attach to a new family

    • The extent to which the foster family meets the child’s short and long term needs

    • The willingness of the foster family to have continued contact with the child’s siblings and or birth relatives (when appropriate)

    • Whether placement of additional foster children in the home is in the child’s best interests.

    Helping Youth Foster Child Move On To A Permanent Home:  If the foster child is moving to a pre-adoptive placement, you will participate in various activities.  You, your entire family and the child will need to prepare for the separation and the child’s move into a new family.  Preparation and your involvement are vital.  Your role in this process is extremely important for both your family and your foster child.


    Registration of an Adoptive Family Resource:  Families that are licensed or approved for adoption shall be registered with the Office of Children and Youth in Placement.  Your licensing worker will forward your family’s approved homestudy file for registration.  If you are a foster parent who wishes to consider adopting a child in your care, speak to the child’s worker.  If you are a foster parent who wants to stop fostering and choose to be registered as an adoptive parent, speak to your support worker in FASU.


    Family registrations are maintained at the Office of Children and Youth in Placement and are reviewed by the Permanency Exchange. Based on your family’s interest as stated on the registration form, your home study may be forward to the child’s Social Worker for consideration.    A match is made when the regional Permanency Planning Team (PPT) approves an identified family that will best meet the needs of a particular child.

    Information For A Prospective Adoptive Family:

    • Once a PPT has identified your family as a permanent resource for a child, you will be contacted by your support worker. If your family is interested in learning more about this child, your study will be placed on hold.  An initial meeting is held with the child’s social worker, who will share information critical to understanding the child. The following information should be provided verbally and in writing to assist you in making an informed decision about taking a child.  This information will allow you to best meet each child’ individual needs, if placement occurs.  Additional information will be provided to you by the child’s current caregiver, such as Genetic Parent(s) and Medical Information.

    • All known medical and mental health information, including the medical passport, copies of developmental records and shared content of psychological, psychiatric, and neurological reports when appropriate and available

    • Child Placement Packet (DCF-469)

    • Information regarding all aspects of the child’s background, including significant events and placement history

    • Life Book, if available

    • Information regarding degree of legal risk, outlining current legal status including any expectations of the family and the Department

    If after obtaining the information regarding the child, your family decides they are no longer interested in pursuing placement, that information will be noted and your homestudy will continue to be referred out for other children matching your criteria for placement.


    Transitions can be difficult for anyone, especially for children who have experienced trauma and in many cases multiple placements. Pre-placement steps are necessary in preparing the adoptive parents, foster parents, and the child.   These steps will include spending time with the child in a variety of settings, including their current placement, your home, and other locations that may be helpful in the transition.  The visitation schedule will vary depending on the needs of the child.


    The adoptive family, social worker, foster family and as appropriate the child, should develop a placement plan that is workable for all. Depending on the age and circumstances of the child you are encouraged to be available full time to the adoptive child during the first few weeks of placement.  The extra time can be quite beneficial in transitioning and supporting not only the child but you and the other family members. 


    Adoptive parents need to be aware that adoption is a life long process. The issues involved in adoption provide recurring themes that manifest themselves at different developmental stages and life cycles for adoptees and their families.  All children in adoptive placements have undergone at least one major separation. You will need to understand what loss means to the child and be able to help the child through the grief process. You are encouraged to avail yourselves to training and support opportunities whenever possible.


    Post-Placement Support:  It should be decided prior to the beginning of the placement process, what type of post placement support is needed.  It may be the child’s worker, or a private agency worker through a Permanency Placement Services Program (PPSP) contract.  The following is a list of services that may be accessed to provide support:

    • Counseling with the adoptive parent and child

    • Assisting your family in your efforts to obtain services such as: educational, medical, and/or therapeutic services.

    • Referrals to appropriate resources, such as support groups

    • In-home services, to assist with behavioral issues and Life Book work

    • Finalizing the adoption

    Life Books:  Life Books chronicle a child’s life in care.  It is a critical tool used to help the child walk through their time in care and have a guide displaying those experiences. It not only connects his or her past and present life experiences, but also helps develop a more positive self image.  It is not unusual that several significant people may have come and gone through the child’s life.  It is important to acknowledge these individuals and these memories.  The process of creating a Life Book affords the child the opportunity to explore and understand his/her past. 


    It would be hard for most of us to imagine not knowing even basic pieces of information about our own history.   What if we didn’t know much about our own parents?  What if we were not sure how or why we came to live in the home we are in?   What if we had been in more scools than we could remember?  What if we had no pictures of ourselves or of family members taken before we were in high school?   Sadly, many adults who grew up in foster care have stories full of questions.


    DCF has a format for Life Books that it presents to all its social workers.  Instruction in this format is typically offered to licensed parents, as well, at the annual CAFAF conference.  The following are some suggestions from the DCF curriculum for topics to be included in the book:

    • Introduction (i.e. the purpose of the book)

    • Birth announcement

    • Baby pictures

    • Birth family pictures

    • Explanation of why the child came into DCF’s care

    • Pictures of foster families and written information on where they lived … and when the child was there

    • Pictures of social workers who were significant in the child’s life Journal entries

    • School pictures and information

    • Cultural and religious information

    • Certificates / awards

    • Favorite friends

    Open Adoption Agreements:  An open adoption agreement may be entered into between adoptive families and members of the child’s birth family.  Such an agreement clearly identifies the degree of contact maintained between all parties throughout the child’s life.  The Connecticut Association of Foster and Adoption Parents (CAFAP) provides attorney’s to represent foster/pre-adoptive parents who are considering entering into an open adoption agreement with birth parents.  There is no cost for this service.


    Adoption Finalizations:  Adoptions are finalized in Juvenile Courts, typically in the Court in the town of the adoptive family.  The Court will prepare the adoption decree.


    Adoption Disruptions:  While all efforts should be made to avoid a disruption, it is important to recognize when the removal of the child is not only inevitable but necessary.  At the same time, while disruption may be discussed, workers should not assume because a family is seeking help they are wavering in their commitment to the child.


    A disruption meeting should be held and will include as many people involved with the child as possible.  The purpose of the meeting is to:

    • Develop a plan to address the child’s current and future needs

    • Support the family in recovering from the disruption through referrals to potential community resources.

    • Demonstrate that the disruption is most likely the result of multiple factors and not the fault of any one person.