adopting a child in Colorado

6 Things to Know About Adopting a Child in Colorado

Adopting a child in Colorado is a life-changing event for both expectant parents and hopeful adoptive parents, not to mention the children involved. It’s often difficult to know where to begin or whom to turn to for advice. Adoption.com and Adoption.org are two resources to utilize frequently when making initial decisions and ultimately selecting the best personal choice. Both of these sites assist with helping expectant parents and hopeful adoptive parents. This resource on types of adoption in Colorado is also helpful. Below are the 6 top items to aid in answering frequently asked questions.

1. Where to Begin 

Hopeful adoptive parents

People who are considering adoption likely have had these thoughts periodically for years, wondering when the time will be right. The time is right now! Adopting a child in Colorado is a path that is totally feasible. First, what type of adoption fits best? The three most common types of adoption are discussed in detail below. These include foster adoption, domestic adoption, and international adoption. Start by finding friends, neighbors, chat sites, or Facebook groups. These individuals and groups have chosen what you are investigating. Ask questions and expose your fears or concerns. Most folks in the adoption community are open to talking to parents contemplating this journey. True insight is crucial to making the best decision. Second, examine costs and determine the best option for your budget. The third step is selecting a county or agency, which will also be expanded upon later. Colorado is an agency state which requires utilization of either an agency or working with the county of your choice. Next is signing up for classes and receiving as much education as possible prior to the adoption. And finally, you will be completing the home study and preparing for a child to be placed. I chose to foster then adopt my children and selected Denver County to aid me.

Expectant parents

Parents who inadvertently find themselves expecting are under massive pressure to make the right decision when the right decision for them may not be obvious. There are so many variables each individual has to consider which can lead to frustration and feeling overwhelmed. The most important and primary initial objective should be to ensure complete education on all options. Try reading these articles on choosing adoption for your baby or options for an unexpected pregnancy. When considering placing a child for adoption in Colorado, there are multiple agencies that can answer questions and remain supportive regardless of whether the final decision is adoption. Verify the agency has a similar belief system and moral compass. Second, share your plans and feelings with friends and family are trustworthy. Itemize and list the pros and cons. A counselor will be required by the state of adoption is selected. However, it is prudent to begin this aspect almost immediately. Assistance will help immensely throughout the process. Once an adoption is chosen, there are three options regarding the openness of adoption that require consideration. There are resources to help with this decision within the agency selected as well. It is important to note that in the state of Colorado, open adoption agreements are not legally binding. Lastly, it is crucial to be educated on the adoption laws. The agency selected will be able to assist with this knowledge. To learn more about some basics and access resources on different agencies check out the  Colorado Adoption Guide. This is a very challenging time; know that no matter the decision or outcome, you are headed in the right direction for you. Be brave and strong.

2. Types of Adoption for Adopting a Child in Colorado

There are three general types of adoption: foster adoption, domestic adoption, and international adoption. Please note that independent adoption is not allowed in this state. Each type of adoption has its own distinct advantages and challenges. Study them all, and inquire as much as possible to others who have already made this decision. There are groups available on the internet as well as Facebook or Twitter. This is a personal and varied decision, there is no right or wrong answer. Your heart will guide you.

Foster Adoption

In Colorado, as in most states, the goal of Child Protective Services is reunification with the biological family. This is as it should be.  However, don’t let that be a deterrent. Of the over 4,000 children in the Colorado foster system, there are between 300-400 in the state right now whose parental rights have already been terminated and are seeking a forever home. This is especially true for children who have been categorized as “Special Needs,” a title that isn’t what it appears to be. This category includes developmental or physical disabilities, medical conditions, and emotional or mental disabilities. However, it also includes children who are over the age of 5, sibling sets, and minorities; a vastly different cohort. The median age of kids in this situation is 8, but it ranges from infants up to early adulthood. In order to adopt through foster care, a public or private agency will be required. Private agencies may cost $1,800-$3,500 (or more in infant situations); however, counties entirely cover the charges and usually offer a stipend. Selecting an agency rather than a county adoption can be challenging. Again, check with those who have been through this process before and make the most informed decision possible. Contact your county and look into Agencies in Colorado. There will be required courses for this route as the training and certification process aids in preparation to care for and support a child whose history includes trauma, grief, and loss. This can be a different way of parenting than traditional styles, but the need is immense.

Domestic Adoption

Society is generally most familiar with this form of adoption and it typically involves infants. This is where expectant parents choose to place their children for adoption and voluntarily relinquish their parental rights. In Colorado, these types of adoptions are managed by adoption agencies or a private Colorado adoption attorney. Public adoptions are managed through the county, usually with an agency assisting. Private adoptions involve an agency matching an adoptive family with a birth mother. The matching process can feel exhausting and overwhelming, not to mention frustrating. Look into tips on how to make your presentation strong to birth parents considering placing their child for adoption. The requirements are typically less strict than foster adoption but a home study and training are still required. 

International

This form of adoption entails adopting from another country. The age ranges from infants through adolescents and many countries participate, although strict rules are generally in place to mitigate the risk of human trafficking. Their standards for adoption will also be different than Colorado. This process takes longer than other types of adoption. While some countries can process an adoption between three and six months, the majority of adoptions require two and a half to three years to complete. The cost is also higher, averaging $20,000-$40,000. In addition to home studies and training classes, traveling to the country is mandatory with a stay of a week up to months. Sometimes, several trips are necessary. Additional education should be sought regarding the child’s culture and history and learning their language will help with the massive transition into a life in the US. 

3. Requirements for Adopting a Child in Colorado

The actual requirements for adoption in Colorado are fairly basic. The hopeful adoptive parent must be 21 years old or older. They will need to present health records and financial information to demonstrate they are able to physically and financially provide for a child. Those with disabilities are not excluded. There will be a background check and any criminal history will be reviewed. This extends to anyone living in the home where the child will be placed. There will also be an evaluation of emotional stability and mental ability to raise a child. This is the case for all adoptions although an even more thorough investigation will be done in cases of foster adoption and international adoption. A home study will be mandatory. This can feel intrusive and uncomfortable but ultimately ensures the safety of the child. Education courses and training are crucial to success. Please notice that marital status and sexual orientation are not mentioned in Colorado adoption requirements. This is because one does not have to be married or heterosexual to adopt. Some agencies will have opinions regarding these, but they are not part of adoption law in this state. Religion is also not included. Homes of potential adoptees do not need to be owned as long as the financial ability to provide for a child is present. Other children may also already be present in the home and pregnancy is not exclusive. 

4. Education and Resources to Prepare for Adopting a Child in Colorado

It is wise to take as many training courses and read as many books as possible. Often, adopted children, even infants, will require different parenting tactics. This is usually due to the impact trauma has on the developing brain. Multiple studies show even excessive stress during pregnancy or difficult birth can affect the amygdala and fight or flight response. It can also increase stress chemicals in the brain. Some great books regarding this are The Primal Wound and The Body Keeps the Score. My all-time favorite books on the subject are The Connected Child and  The Connected Parent. Both are excellent at explaining behaviors and neurobiology and make this parenting style understandable. For those considering domestic adoption, my personal favorite is The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption. Other highly recommended reading is available here

Regarding training, there will be classes required through the county or agency. BLS and first aid education are mandatory. In addition, the most highly recommended program is TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention). This is a program currently being widely dispersed through Colorado and is the current pinnacle to learn connecting, empowering, and correcting behaviors resulting from the effect trauma has on the brain. Those involved in infant adoptions may not require this training until the child is two or three years old. Do not be intimidated by this material, it isn’t meant to frighten. Knowledge is power. Many adoptive parents, myself included, didn’t truly understand the ideologies until they were actively parenting their child/children.I also wanted to include a list of books for expecting parents considering placing their child for adoption as one must never forget their brave and essential role.  

5. Placement and Post-placement Requirements in Colorado

Once a child has been placed, protocols remain in place to ensure the child’s safety and help with their integration into the family. With foster adoption, social workers will continue to visit the home until the adoption is final. They are legally required to visit once every 3 months in Colorado; however, visits are usually monthly. Infant adoption has 91 days in place, allowing the birth parents the option to change their mind. This can be an anxious time and support may be needed. Both of these require a minimum of 6 months in the home prior to being allowed to adopt. There are four basic reasons for this. First, it ensures the family is a good fit for the child. Second, it ensures the child’s sense of safety and wellbeing. Some visits will be conducted without the presence of the adoptive parent. Third, it provides support, education, and assistance to the adoptive parents. Finally, the caseworker is mandated to acquire the necessary information on the progress that the adoptive parents and their children are making. They have to include a recommendation to the court to support the adoption. The best interest of the child is always at the forefront. International adoptions will not require the above steps, as the adoption process is completed in another country prior to them moving to Colorado.

These two items must also transpire prior to being able to finalize the adoption. First, the biological parents must terminate their parental rights. They must consent and follow the Colorado adoption laws (such as receiving counseling prior). With foster adoption, termination often happens without the birth parent’s consent due to them being deemed unfit by the Colorado court or having abandoned the child or failed to provide support for one year. Second, the agency or county that completed the home study must confirm all requirements have been met.

6. Finally Finalizing Adopting a Child in Colorado

The final adoption hearing tends to last less than an hour. In Colorado, there is a National Adoption Day, where the court sees only families adopting. It is a spectacular sight and occurs every November. The adopted parent and social worker will be sworn in and several general questions will be asked. Then, the judge will issue a final decree of adoption ending all legal involvement for the state. Be sure to obtain the paperwork which will allow for an amended birth certificate and a new social security number if needed.

For hopeful adoptive parents, the process can be long and stressful, but the need is great and the ultimate rewards are infinite. Resources are available and connecting with other parents who are involved in the adoption community is essential. Educate and train for this journey. The path offers unique scenery which grows exponentially in beauty as each year passes. 

Expectant parents considering placing their children for adoption are facing the toughest decision of their life; I honor their strength while grieving their pain. Education on all options is essential, counseling is vital, and many resources are available to help on this endeavor which is life-changing for all.

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Beth Ellen

Beth Ellen is a single mother who recently left the medical field to pursue a career in writing and public speaking. She has adopted a sibling set of three from the foster care system and has become quite passionate about helping parents and children survive and thrive in this tumultuous environment. When she is not being a personal taxi service for her kiddos, she is working on interviewing other parents and writing her book Ain't a Saint. She can be reached through her Facebook page Children Adoption or http://adoptionaintasaint.com/.